Career transitions are inevitable. After all, most of us spend the majority of our lives working. But did you know that young Millennials, meaning those who graduated from 2006 to 2010, are on track to surpass four job changes by the time they hit age 32?
These aren’t just job changes – they are industry or profession changes as well. In addition, there are basic career trajectory shifts that will naturally occur throughout one’s career: transitioning from high school or college to the workplace, role transitions from entry level to manager and manager to executive, job relocation, and role responsibility and industry changes.
In the course of these, we experience inevitable “side effects.” One in particular rings true for me personally: uncertainty. After seven years in public relations, I realized it was no longer a fulfilling path for me. I wanted to do more, and to more directly support others. I had always been fascinated with life coaching and passionate about the transition an athlete undergoes post-athletic career. I then decided to make a drastic shift to this professional domain.
Checklists for a Successful Transition
There were many days spent thinking if I was making the right decision, moments when I questioned if I would succeed in my new, uncharted endeavor. It all reminded me of when I transitioned from high school athletics to college athletics; it was the same sport but on a completely different level. There was “newness,” uncertainty, new processes and teammates – all in an unexplored territory. I remember the emotional transition being extremely stressful, making it hard to trust my gut instincts and to go with the flow.
So the question becomes, how do you manage it all? I tried different tactics during my own career shift, and found these four most helpful:
1. Get a coach.
Find someone to talk to who can be your sounding board and help you sort out all the emotions and thoughts going on in your head.
Reflecting on your thoughts and feelings during a transition can be a great way to also sort through what you are going through, and to plan for what’s to come.
3. Find a mentor.
A mentor can help you move forward and guide you through the particular challenges in your industry or field. They’ve likely been there themselves, so their expertise and advice can be extremely helpful.
4. Take your time.
Practice more and accept that you are learning and building new routines, skills, and experiences. Expertise will come with time.
Regardless of the stage or magnitude of your career transition, always aim to make the most of it. Keep these four additional things in mind:
- You are starting new – capitalize on it. Fix bad habits, push the envelope, and get out of your comfort zone.
- Build your network. Leverage your previous position to build support for your new path forward.
- Hone transferable skills. Continue to build on skills that are valuable across industries. This is good regardless of your path forward.
- Take care of yourself. Find time to exercise and reduce your stress levels. This will help you keep you on your toes throughout a potentially crazy time.
As with life in general, we experience a variety of transitions throughout our professional careers.