I’ve read over the years how many people will in their lifetime change jobs about 8 or 9 times, and change fields entirely 3 or 4 times. That’s quite comforting actually if you find yourself in that position not by choice but by necessity. The anxiety and stress that can come on in this period is ever so slightly mitigated when you come to the realization that this is a normal thing; not something specific to you alone.
You can perhaps draw on your own life experience, but for those just starting out in their careers, or those who got their current job right out of University or College and have yet to experience this, I’m happy to provide examples.
I’ve a friend who worked almost 20 years in retail. Starting out in an entry-level position, he rapidly rose in the retail world to the point where he was managing a national chain store. After having been in the position of Manager for years, the challenge was pretty non-existent on a daily basis. Living in a smaller community, he was in a position of needing a change for his mental stimulation, but his income was never going to be matched if he left to pursue another job. And after being in retail for all those years, what else could he possibly do outside of the retail field which had lost its lustre?
In this case, the decision was made for him as he found himself one day out of work and not of his own choice; change was wanted, savings found, and the easiest way to start that in Head Office’s view was to start at the top. Forced out of work, what to do? Where to go? The flux he was living was a period of transition from what was known to what could be.
A second example is the case of a respected fellow who actually made his own position redundant. He found himself also out of work after having been in the highest possible position in his field. Relieved of his duties he was close to retirement but still had 4 or 5 years before he could officially retire. Again, that what-to-do mentality was both exhilarating one the one hand and just a little unnerving on the other. Flux; change.
I too have experienced a great deal of this over my lifetime. I’ve been in Retail, Municipal Government, Non-Profit, For Profit, Provincial Government sectors as well as self-employed. While there was a time where I changed jobs every three years over the early part of my working life, it didn’t seem to lessen the anxiety I was feeling at the time while in the moment.
You know if you were reading a book and found that you didn’t like where the Protagonist was at any given moment, you could skip forward 20 or 30 pages and see if things were going to get better for him or her. Why you could even read reviews ahead of time that sum up the conclusion and then gain some reassurance. Real life on the other hand – your life – doesn’t work the same way. Life has to be lived. It’s like turning the page only to find blank pages that have yet to be written, and they only get filled in once each day is over. That wouldn’t be so bad until you realize that whether the story turns good or bad, you are entirely responsible for what happens.
That whole thought process around, “What do I do now?” is an opportunity. While some people would prefer others just tell them what to do, most of us are both excited and uneasy about where to begin. Because we are all so very different, some folks leave a job and immediately start looking for something else. They put out feelers everywhere and in short order are working somewhere else. Not spending much time on career exploration, they find a job quick and their mental energy is spent learning the new job and the procedures at the new company.
Others however, well they take their time. Could be these folks do nothing career-wise for months while they just process this period of change in their own minds. They think long about who they are, what’s happened to them, and turn their energy to doing house chores they’ve put off or travel a little. Then they eventually turn to looking for work doing whatever they’ve settled on obtaining. Neither approach is right or wrong, just different processes.
When transitioning from one job to another, whatever you are feeling is normal. You may be angry, confused, anxious, exhilarated and motivated or feel betrayed and let down. And if you are fuzzy on the whole, “Now what?” thing, that too is a typical reaction. You may find it helpful to have a guide or support person in place to help you deal with your feelings of the present.
If you are an older person, find an Employment Advisor or Counsellor who specializes in working with people of your age group. But if you end up with someone younger don’t fret. You may need a younger person’s enthusiasm and energy in addition to their youthful outlook. It could awaken something in you that’s been missing.
A period of flux is in the middle of two periods of stability. How long does it last? Sorry but that page is still blank in your book of life. You’ll get through it however, and that’s important to remember.