Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
While this quote is inspiring and easy to say, in reality it can be harder to actually implement, as we all know. And even when the first action step is implemented, the transition itself can still be stressful and scary. This is especially true when making a major career transition. Our jobs pay our bills, and in many cases, our career is part of how we define ourselves. So making a change in this area can be especially stressful. Here are five things that can make your career transition easier.
1. Keep a journal. Research shows that writing can have a positive effect on the body, and writing during stressful times helps you more effectively cope with the stress and reduces the negative effects of stress on the body.
Action Step: Schedule two nights a week to write your feelings down about your transition. Dedicate 10–20 minutes to this in a quiet place where you won’t feel inhibited to write down your true feelings.
2. Set limits. Set boundaries for yourself to not get overwhelmed. Determine how much time you can devote each week, realistically, to your transition so it doesn’t take over all of your waking hours outside of work. Set realistic goals for your transition so you don’t get overwhelmed all at once.
Action Step: Before you begin your transition, decide how much time you can spend each week and schedule it in your calendar, and establish two to three realistic goals for the next one to three months to get you started.
3. Take care of your body. Exercise helps to relieve stress and anxiety, and endorphins help you feel happier and energized, so this is especially important during a career transition.
Action Step: Schedule 15–20 minutes of exercise three times a week. Try H.I.I.T. workouts; they are short and effective.
4. Seek support. Decide who you are going to talk to about your change, who is positive, and who will boost you up. Determine who you shouldn’t talk to about it because they may bring you down. Surround yourself with positive friends and family members.
Action Step: Determine who will support you. Reach out to two to three people who have succeeded in their own career changes for tips and advice. Ask them for specifically what you need: a cheerleader, an objective opinion, or just time to vent when you are frustrated.
5. Focus on the positive. During a career transition, it’s easy to focus on the negative, so make a big effort to eliminate the negative thoughts and find something to be positive about daily.
Action Step: Avoid listening to or reading other people’s “horror stories” where careers are concerned. At the end of every day, try to think of at least three positive things that have happened regarding your transition: a new connection made, a conversation with a friend, an adjustment to your resume.
Career transitions can be happy and exciting times, full of opportunity. Much of that depends on how often you are able to stay positive, and willing to step out of your comfort zone. So go ahead. Explore. Dream. Discover.