Lessons for Successfully Managing Career Transitions
It’s time to accept transitions as an inevitable part of your career experience and learn how to manage them effectively
David Cox | August 06, 2019
Career Transitions: Inevitable challenges
Career Transitions can be as simple as progressing from one job to another in the same organization. Unfortunately, they can also involve unemployment, loss of income, relocation, learning new skills, and other significant challenges.
For instance, a transition may involve a layoff and require a lengthy job search. Creating and implementing a strategic plan for securing another position may be necessary. Meanwhile, the loss of income during unemployment can prove problematic for anyone with financial obligations. Those in transition may need to contact creditors about extending payments or refinancing some debts if necessary.
Those transitioning to start a business may encounter resistance on several fronts. For example, it’s not easy to secure funding for a startup. Family and close friends may discourage startup plans out of concern about risks and the potential for financial loss.
Allison Doyle, a job search expert for The Balance Careers recently wrote, “the average person changes jobs an average of 12 times during his or her career.” She goes on to say, “Many workers spend five years or less in every job…” As such, career transitions are not merely a periodic inconvenience. They are inevitable challenges that could derail or boost your career progress. Thus, you need to learn how to manage them effectively.
Career Transitions: Don’t overlook the lessons essential to your success
Today, I operate a small business and serve clients as a third-party blogger. My clients are typically busy professionals who don’t have time to write updated posts and other web content. As a result, I get paid to work on projects and assignments I thoroughly enjoy.
However, before launching ThirdPartyBlogger.com, I attempted to start two other businesses – and neither succeeded. Why did it take nearly 18 months and two failed startup attempts for me to figure out my current business practice? Well, I finally realized I had overlooked three lessons. Ultimately, they proved essential in making my career transition successful:
- Stop holding on to the past
Surprisingly, I found it difficult to let go of my previous employment following 20 years of service. In retrospect, I missed the company owners I had served and the many capable employees I worked with every day. They were all terrific people. I also grieved the loss of my previous role and the sense of purpose it gave me.
It took a while, but I eventually learned to give thanks for the experience of this job and then let it go. Once I did that, my mind was free to move on to my next challenge.
Lesson #1: The past is gone, and it’s never, ever coming back. Give thanks for it, let it go, and move on.
- Create a vision for the future
Once I could give thanks for the past, and let it go, I began to envision my future.
I began to picture myself blogging, writing web content, and copyediting for clients. I also imagined my potential clients as business and organizational leaders who don’t have time to do these tasks themselves. My vision became the foundation for ThirdPartyBlogger.com.
Lesson #2: Stop wasting time trying to recreate a past that is gone. Instead, move on and invest your time in creating a detailed vision of your next career challenge.
- Write out a plan and break it up into workable tasks
I began making a list of everything I needed to start the business I envisioned. In fact, I wrote down the specific tasks required to get each of these items done! Then, I scheduled deadlines for each item and began working on my list. I launched the business once I checked off everything on the list.
My wife (also my business partner) deserves credit for her efforts on this project while working a full-time job. I also received sound advice from a highly qualified accountant, an outstanding business consultant, several good friends, a talented group of web designers, and supportive family members.
Lesson #3: Create a detailed list of whatever you must do to make your vision a reality. The details will include who you’ll need to help you. Then, commit yourself to accomplish something on your list every day until you’ve completed it in its entirety.
Career Transitions: Stay on track
What can you do to keep your career transitions on track? I suggest beginning each day of your career transition with the question: “What can I do at this moment to keep moving forward?”
In other words, do something to maintain your career momentum. If you accomplish one thing each day, and it’s a step toward the next phase of your career, you’re making progress. Otherwise, I guarantee that a lack of vision and inaction will fail to produce the results you desire.