Turning points in the career journey – Career transition

This article will explore the moment when you decide it’s time for a change – Career transition.

Turning points

When you are going through career transition, there will be a time when you come to accept that it is time to move on. The turning point is the decision making time. If you are not ready to make a decision, it won’t happen – you need to do some more ground work to allow yourself to be comfortable. If you are ready for serious career development, you will take action and be happy to make it happen.

Take courage

I know it is a risky step to get onto the other side of a turning point; to break out of the financial security and comfort zone of where you are working. But there is a reason for why are looking for career development. You are taking responsibility for yourself, and it’s a good thing. Acknowledge your fears and don’t let them sabotage your need to move on. Susan Jeffers wrote a lovely book called ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. If you are having trouble stepping up to the decision, for what ever reason, Susan’s book may help you to gather your courage and be empowered, to make your career transition a real option in your life.

A great book to read on turning points is ‘Becoming an ex’ by Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh. While the book is quite academic, it looks at what happens for people’s identity when they change from one role to another. The book does not just focus on careers, but the multiple roles that we have in life within families, addictions and so on. I loved this book, and you will identify with the career transition stories within it. Helen talks about the painful process of leaving significant roles behind, and the processes we go through in letting go of the old. Just as we need to learn how to transition into a new situation, we also need to learn how to do role exit. You will need to both disengage and disidentify with your previous role. Socially this can be challenging, as other people continue to associate you with a previous role. For example, I was a teacher – and it is unbelievable the number of time members of my family equate who I am with being a teacher. I have disconnected my identity from this stereotypical role, yet it is reflected back to me time and again. As we adjust to our new identities, we hope that others around us will also accommodate our new ways of being.

Helen Ebaugh describes the process of what happens at a turning point. There is usually a stimulus, an event, a time factor or some kind of situation that pushes a person to make the decision to leave. It is the indecision that can be the most stressful time. Once the decision is made, and it is announced to others, you can relax to some extent in that your thoughts and actions are beginning to become synchronised. The research shows that for three fourths of the population, a vacuum occurs, where you have no roots, no belonging, feeling midair. People tend to cope better when they have built a bridge, using their networks. These people have coped better than those who have ‘burnt their bridges’ before they have moved on.

If you decide to move on, then it is the end of an era, and space is made for you to reinvent yourself. At this point, it is time to start the cycle again. Reassess your skills, values and interests, and begin to explore possible directions. This is part of your career journey; it is a cycle, and you are the constant within the story.

As I wrote in an earlier email, you will make sense of your career story as you develop awareness of who you are becoming and your new evolving identity. We are all made up of many possible selves, and it may be that your new insights are that it is time to move on, for a variety of reasons.

Windows of opportunity open and shut. It’s up to you to shape the life you want and if you can align it with your values, and enjoy trust in your relationships both at work and home; you will be in a happy place. Nassam Taleb developed the Black Swan Theory, where by surprise events can occur, that are unpredictable yet have a major impact. This is in line with a range of other research relating to careers, where happenstance and chaos play a part in career journeys. For example, Krumboltz and Levin (2004) say in their book, ‘Luck is no accident’, to embrace the unpredictability of life, take risks and be aware of your surroundings. Herminia Ibarra (2003) encourages you to try different strategies to reinvent your career in her book ‘Working Identity’. Stay alert and watch for opportunity. Don’t let them slip bye due to previous ways of thinking and bias that we all have. Open your mind and your eyes.

Next week we will look at career patterns, and you can explore what yours is.

When the time is right for you to take more action, here are a few options for you.

If you need information and support more urgently than this email provides, you are welcome to email me.

I look forward to assisting you in your career planning, job search and subsequent job applications, to empower you to move forward in your career development.

Bye for now,


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