With any change in your life, including a professional change, there is loss – even if the change is good. And loss must be grieved so you can leave the ‘old’ behind and move into the ‘new’ in a healthy way. Keep this in mind when change happens to you in your career, as well as in your personal life.
Career transitions can have a big impact on us because our jobs can be such a big part of our lives. So be pro-active and prepare yourself beforehand when possible, for a major career transition.
Most grief professionals agree that the grieving process consists of five stages that must be addressed in order to move on. Here are the five stages:
Denial – Not accepting that it’s really happening. John was dumbfounded when he learned his two best friends were fired. He got very caught up in their stories and often said “I can’t believe it” and bad mouthed the company for what it had done.
Bargaining – Believing that with negotiation or adjustment it can go back to the way it used to be. John was affected directly by additional responsibility which he told his boss he could not take on. That met with skepticism which made John realize that he had better accept the new normal of wearing two hats.
Anger – Feeling that the situation is “unfair”. John confided in his wife every night that the firings and the additional work he had to take on was unfair. She tried to console him, but he was very angry.
Sadness – Feeling lost, alone, or vulnerable. John’s days at work were lonely without his best buddies around, he missed them. He found some of the new work was a stretch for him and he worried about whether he could master it.
Acceptance – Realizing that things will not go back to the way they were, and it is time to move on. Coaching through the above emotions and helping John understand that it is natural to have these feelings helped him to finally accept that he had to get with the program and that it was a new era for the company and for him. It was okay to feel good about the job again because he was learning new things and ways of doing them. And, even though he still missed his friends, he realized that commiserating with them, did not help him or them.
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