Forced into an Undesired Position? What to Do.

Author, speaker, and career coach helping women in government, college students, millennials, and young professionals obtain their first leadership positions.

Have you ever been forced into an undesired position either by a promotion, a lateral move, or a downgrade? Did this induce stress and anxiety or cause you to lose sleep? Lingering in this state and losing sleep for weeks on end is not beneficial to you, your family, or your employer. However, more often than not this happens because employers have needs and will make changes internally in order to fulfill their needs. Thankfully, there are certain strategies you can take to minimize your stress level and succeed at this unwanted change.

The #1 thing to remember is what lens you’re looking at this change from? What is your mindset? Of course, being forced into something you did not want or expect will cause stress and anxiety. This is not something you desired or wanted.  It is okay to have some stress and anxiety or even lose sleep the first night. However, the trick to moving from this state of mind is the lens/mindset you use to evaluate the situation.

When faced with such undesired circumstance, think of all the positives. Try to imagine the best possible outcome and work backwards. What does this mean? Let your day to day actions and reactions reflect the long-term outcome you desire.

To help you adjust your mindset and view the situation in a more conducive lens, ask yourself these three questions.

No matter what your scenario may be, remain positive and never react when your emotions are high. Take a few days to gather your thoughts and put a plan in place.


What can you learn/acquire from this position?

The skills and knowledge you will gain from this position can be used as a resume booster. It can also be used to climb the ladder to your desired position/career. On the other hand, you may learn a new skill or get the chance to enhance an already acquired skill. It can be a chance to practice skills you may have acquired but never got a chance to practice. It can even be a re-do. For example, if you are a leader of a team and made certain mistakes, moving to a new team as a leader can be the opportunity to start fresh and not make the same mistakes. A promotion or lateral move into a new position provides the opportunity to acquire new skills and/or knowledge. If not, then there is the opportunity to showcase your skills to those judging you and those around you.

If it’s a downgrade, it may teach you or remind you of humility and appreciation. If the downgrade is to a position you held in the past, then you have the opportunity to do work you are familiar with from a different perspective and from a better understanding from different job titles.

What can the change teach you?

It’s possible that the change can show you that you’re stronger than you think because you will overcome the struggles and anxiety you face by adapting to the situation.

Maybe the change will show you that you shouldn’t waste any more time with the company and encourage you to leave. In leaving, you may find a company that is a better fit for you. The change can also teach you who your motivators are, in other words, who wants to see you succeed. It can also reveal the opposite, who wants to see you fail. The change can also reveal the company’s thoughts on your performance. A promotion can indicate the company is vested in you and would like to see you grow within the company. A lateral move can mean that the company is grooming you for the next position but you are missing certain knowledge, experience(s), and/or skill(s). A downgrade can mean it’s time for you to leave the company but it can also mean that the company realized that your current position is not a fit or that you are not ready. The downgrade can be meant to give you a breather.

What outcome can you be proud of?

Would overcoming your fears and anxiety while mastering the skills and knowledge needed to succeed make you proud?

If you think you were maliciously moved into this position, would succeeding in this position and showing those wishing you ill-will that you did not fail make you proud?

Would accepting the position gracefully instead of reacting in anger and spite make you proud?

If you answer yes to these questions, keep your answers in mind and work backward by acting accordingly for the outcome you desire. Whichever question applies to you, make it one of your goals for the situation.

While you are in the mix of things, sorting through your emotions and adjusting to the change, it will be hard to see any positivity to the situation. However, take comfort knowing that with the right mindset, at least 1 positivity can be found, especially in hindsight. It could be that you found a new friend, the situation added to your character, the situation served as a great teaching moment for you or someone you met/mentor, or a stepping stone to your desired or a more enjoyable position. The possibility is endless.

No matter what your scenario may be, remain positive and never react when your emotions are high. Take a few days to gather your thoughts and put a plan in place.

The strategies discussed are tried and tested. A mantra to live by is, everything happens for a reason. The reason may not reveal itself immediately but remain confident that you will learn the reason. Life will not always be sweet, sometimes we experience sour limes and it is up to us to make sweet lemonade.

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