career headspaceCreating headspace when changing jobs and careers is a healthy practice and a rewarding investment of your time. Why is this so, what does it look like and how do you do it?

Making the transition from one job or career to another can be tough emotionally. The speed and intensity of the rollercoaster of emotions is different for each of us. You can feel disoriented standing at the crossroads of the past, present and future.

My coaching clients have often spent many years in the same organisation and come to me seeking a change of career direction. They encounter common difficulties in that awkward space between letting go and moving on:

Your head is still in the old job

Your mind can be stuck in your former role for some time after you have left the organisation. You’re thinking about the project you were heavily involved in and whether you remembered to pass everything on to your successor. People ask you about your situation and you pepper your language with “we”. You see the world of new jobs and careers through the lens of the culture still in your bones.

Leaving painfully

You have built up friendships and significant relationships with colleagues who remain in the organisation. The sense of loss can be heartfelt when you don’t see them anymore on a daily basis. You may be leaving under a cloud or escaping from a bullying manager. The bruises take time to heal.

From the frying pan into the fire

It’s tempting sometimes to leap into the first job that comes along, especially if you are moving away from an unhappy situation. Practical needs may drive our actions, like paying the bills and keeping a roof over our heads. We can sometimes delude ourselves that a specific alternative career is what we desire. Jump too soon without due diligence and you can be no further forward than before.

Indecision

You may know what you don’t want, but not what you do want. You don’t know which way to turn or you know the direction but don’t know how to get there. It feeds your anxiety, procrastination and a sense of being in limbo.

Liberation and confidence

You have made the decision to move on and have a clear idea of what is next for you. It feels liberating, exciting and daunting all at the same time. Your vision of a worthwhile future is energising. Alternatively, everything you were valued for in your old job and career has disappeared. Your confidence takes a dip as you start doubting your abilities and whether anyone will recognise them. You haven’t been in the job market for a very long time and things have changed hugely.

Here are some ideas for bridging the gap between letting go and moving on:

  1. Take time off and do something completely different. Distance yourself literally and gain a different perspective. It will help you put a full stop at the end of this chapter of your story. Go travelling, volunteer, see old friends you have been meaning to see for ages and pursue what you know you enjoy.
  2. Spend time on your know-what, know-how and know-why. Write down a complete career and life history in the form of stories. Remind yourself of your many successes small and large.
  3. Create options and then explore. Do your research. Be curious. Talk to interesting people. Attend events. Absorb the wisdom of others.
  4. Bring your strengths and the best of you into everything you do.
  5. Change your language from “we” to “they” (your previous organisation), create headspace for “I” (looking inwardly) and then move to “you” (looking outwardly). Who do you want to help in this world?

Creating headspace feeds your drive and inner conviction, and helps you to move into your next adventure more refreshed, confident and clear.

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