In a society where job security is no longer applicable, changing careers doesn’t carry the stigma it used to. In fact, most will change careers at least three times during their lifespan. And we’re not just talking job changes, but actually careersa whole new venue.
For some, change can be scary, and for others, the change is exciting. But regardless of your emotional response, sometimes a career shift is necessary. With that change, comes elevated stress. To lesson the anxiety that is inevitable, let me offer some simple tools you can apply to the situation.
First, it is of primary importance that you don’t suck lemons through the whole process. The glass is half full, my friend. Do not see this change as a failed attempt or a disgrace, but as an opportunity to do something more in line with your passion.
See it as a chance to try something different, to work through your list of dreams and goals. The first four years after college, I had eight different jobs and three different career shifts within those jobs. At the time, it was a struggle for me to remain hopeful and not get discouraged. I felt like a failure. But a dear friend reminded me that I wasn’t failing, I was experimenting, discovering my personal niche`. I tried it and moved on to something better.
In addition to your mental outlook, remember to extend grace to yourself. Don’t feel inferior because you are having to learn something new. Yes, you may have worked yourself up to CEO in the old career and now you are perched on a bottom rung, but see it as a change to grow and learn. Character develops through knowledge plus humility. Find someone you can trust that will encourage you along the way and advise you in this new territory.
And lastly, remember that you aren’t married to your career. Divorce is not nearly as messy. Don’t worry about breaking hearts or lowering your bar. You are who you are, and who you are is learning and changing. Perhaps you realize that after fifteen years of airplane mechanics you would prefer to teach botany instead. Have the courage to walk away, and I promise the airplane won’t suffer a broken heart as a result.
One of the best retirements you can give yourself is the ability to look back on the past thirty years of your job experiences and feel that you lived your goals and dreams to the fullest.
Kristin Hanley teaches Composition and Creative Writing courses at Regent University. Aside from reading and writing, she loves to paint, hike, and create new recipes. She makes her home in Branson West, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.