Job Transition Superpowers You Need
Three Superpowers to Empower You Through Your Job Change
Feeling a bit like you’ve lost your superpowers during these dog days of a job transition?
Regardless of what type of job transition you may find yourself in, I have three tips based on research and transition experts on how you might approach this time of change and uncertainty a differently than you might have in the past. Best of all, none of the tips involve head hunters or updating your resume. *wink*
Yet all of the tips below can give you an edge in managing not only the job transition, but also the accompanying stress and lack of control you may be experiencing as a result of the change.
In essence, what follows can become your Transition Superpowers.
#1 Transition Superpower: Transition Process Knowledge
When I was in my 20s and transitioning from one job to the next, I had no idea there was actually a normal adult transition process that had been fully studied and articulated by Dr. William Bridges nearly 30 years ago.
Instead of acknowledging the change–which often manifested as a loss of self-esteem, melancholy blues, or anxiety–I did what everyone told me to do. I looked for the silver lining. I suppressed all my emotions because I needed to pick myself up by my own bootstraps and get on with life. Besides, I wanted this particular change/promotion/de-motion, and therefore I had no right to feel miserable.
If I had known that my emotional roller coaster was part of the normal adult transition process, maybe I would have paused to think further about how this change was affecting my life and my well-being. Maybe I would have tried harder to let the platitudes go instead of trying to live into them.
What is the normal adult transition process? According to the Bridges transition model, every transition (whether a job change or the death of a loved one) consists of three fluid stages?: Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginning. Here’s a snippet about each with a link where you can read more:
- Endings which can include what you’re leaving behind, like relationships, familiar processes, an office, colleagues, or other things you might miss.
- Neutral Zone, or the In-Between limb-land time when your former identity is gone and your new one is yet to clearly emerge.
- New Beginning when you’ve arrived at a new understanding about your role, your identity and purpose.
What’s important to note about these three transition stages is that you will move through them on your own time schedule, not on the corporation’s, or your on family’s expectations. So knowing that there is a process can help you understand what you’re going through and explain it better to those who want to understand what’s happening. Knowledge can be your superpower.
#2 Transition Superpower: Naming
I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learned patterns of behavior, and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible.
Transition leader Leia Francisco would agree. In her seminal work, Writing Through Transitions, Francisco tells us to Name the Change, to really hone in and describe in as much detail as possible what the change entails. Naming helps to clarify exactly what is changing for you. Here are a few questions she says can help you do this, great questions to take to your journal:
- What is changing?
- Who are the people affected by your change, including yourself, family, co-workers, other colleagues?
- When will the change take place?
- How long do you estimate the change will last? (It’s OK to give your best guess here.)
- What steps will you need to manage the change? (This might include deep self-assessment, retraining, networking, revising a resume, signing up with search firms, unemployment, etc.)
- What supports and resources will be needed to help you with the transition?
By gaining clarity on what is changing for us during a job transition and giving our transition a name, we begin to dig deeper into our emotions and feelings. The transition moves beyond a pay check, and we learn more about ourselves. Giving your transition a name after careful consideration has the power to demystify it, release a bit of stress, and give you a better handle on what are often invisible components of the change.
#3 Transition Superpower: Your Breath Practice
This may seem a bit woo-woo to you, or it may not. But your breath is powerful. It a life force that sustains your body, bringing in oxygen to your brain, heart, and other vital organs. We all could live without food and water for a few days, but we won’t live beyond 5 minutes without our breath.
When we are stressed or anxious–which is bound to happen in a job transition–we often breathe shallowly. When I’m stressed, my breath never leaves the upper chest area right below the collar bones. I notice my shoulders doing all the work.
So pausing to check in, and becoming aware of how you’re breathing is a great step towards deepening the breath and slowing yourself down. Plus, when you’re noticing your breath, your mind is not focused on the current job situation. This coming into a “present moment” is also key to lowering those high cortisol levels associated with stress. When these levels increase, our immunity drops. And this increases our risk of illness, which no one needs.
Not sure how to begin to check in with your breath? Here’s a video that can help you realize that your breath has the power to calm and de-stress you.
In summary, knowledge about transitions, naming your transition, and intentionally pausing to breathe are your Transition Superpowers.
What else would you consider to be your Transition Superpower??
Read more about what you can do about the Job Transition Blues here.
Next post: Fertile Confusion from Chaos.