Last week I wrote about the emotional roller coaster my current career change has been. So I took a week off to decompress, reflect on my past accomplishments, and look forward to what’s ahead. I’m glad I decided to take a much-needed break because now I’m in a better place and ready to start my new role this week.
Not only did I take the week off, but I also changed my environment and scenery. I left the hustle and bustle of the city and opted for a more relaxing place: Newport Beach. As much as I’d like to tell you I took a break from social media, I was still active on various platforms, taking advantage of my newfound freedom.
One thing I noticed was how many people resonated with my experience. As I read the messages and comments, I realized that stress during a career change is a topic we need to explore further. For example, one woman shared how the stress caused her to experience hair loss, and another woman questioned whether she made the right decision.
It makes sense that career transitions—no matter how exciting—evoke feelings of distress, anxiety, and uncertainty. After all, it’s a disruption to our livelihoods.
I started thinking of how I coped with the stress during this past month, and I wanted to share some tips with you. So, here are six things that helped me while I was transitioning careers. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Find guidance, support, and encouragement: Relying on your support system will be crucial during this time of transition. Whether you seek professional help in the form of therapy or career coaching, or you solely rely on your informal support system—don’t be afraid to show vulnerability and humility. This type of transition can evoke ambivalence and confusion, not to mention a lack of clarity and a lot of self-doubt. Reaching out to someone you trust can make all the difference.
2. Focus on the positive aspects of change: Don’t be surprised if negative emotions and thoughts flood your mind. It’s natural to think of everything that can go wrong and to question if you made the right decision. As a result, you may experience an array of negative emotions such as fear, doubt, impostor syndrome, uncertainty, grief, among many others. Acknowledge your feelings, but immediately turn them into positive ones, if possible. By focusing on the positive aspects of your career transition, you will start to see why you wanted, or needed, the change in the first place.
3. Prioritize your tasks accordingly: Brace yourself because you might have to put some tasks on the backburner. This will not be easy if you are an overachiever because you’ll get the urge to do everything. I advise against this, however. For example, I took a break from writing on the blog and posting consistently on social media during my job search. I didn’t have the capacity for everything, and it was hard! But I’m so glad I prioritized because I had the time and energy to write a compelling resume, connect with my network, and bring my best self to the interviews.
4. Nourish your mind, body, and soul: I think we can all agree on one thing: changing careers is stressful! The entire process from beginning to end can take its toll if you let it. That’s why it’s super important to pay attention to your body’s needs during times of stress. For example, while you worry about whether to submit a cover letter or not, cortisol is wreaking havoc on your body, and you don’t even know it. Eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising will activate endorphins, melting the stress away. In addition, consuming productivity-boosting foods will ensure that you are focused, productive, and calm.
5. Keep your expectations in check: Before diving into your new role, you’ll want to check in on your expectations. There’s nothing wrong with having high ambitions and lofty goals as you walk into your new role but be sure to go easy on yourself if it doesn’t happen immediately. Remember, things will undoubtedly be different than what you’re used to; for many, the change can be drastic. So be honest with yourself about what your expectations and make changes as needed.
6. Lean into the uncertainty and the unknown: Okay, it’s time to get uncomfortable! Anytime there is change, there will be a sea of unknowns. Will I like my new job? Will I connect with my manager and my team? What if I’m making a mistake? Does any of this sound familiar? All these questions are valid; making a change will disrupt your comfort zone and stability, so it’s natural to be anxious about what’s ahead. However, acknowledging the uncertainty can help you get excited about the future, the possibilities. Think about it this way: you are doing something new, something you’ve never done before. Of course, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But isn’t that the exciting part?
What are some things that have helped you when changing careers? I would love to hear your thoughts!