Job Transition Blues? Here’s Help.

 In Transition Writing, Transitions, Weekly Wonder For You

Here are Three Things You Need to Know about

Your Job Transition

When you’re in a job transition, you can feel alone, hopeless, and helpless. But consider this statistic: The average tenure of a job is now four years.

And there’s this stat if you happen to have been born between 1957 and 1964.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that people born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48.

I happen to be 58 years of age, arriving in this world in 1959. Plus, my family has always joked with me about my frequent job changes over the years. So, I started counting.

I came up with 11. Hmmm…

Then I began to think about the transition times within these job changes. Like, how bad was it? Though I always initiated the change (for example: sought advancement or part time so I could stay home more with the kids), I was constantly experiencing low self-esteem, had little self-compassion for myself, and was always looking for something “out there” to make me happy. I was never content, and really hard on myself. And couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just move on.

Job and career changes (and I’m using these two terms interchangeably here) happen. They’re probably one of the most frequently encountered life transitions any of us will face. And if the job transition is affecting your well-being by causing stress, insomnia, the “blues,” a feeling of hopelessness, or if you’re experiencing greater shame and your self-esteem is on empty, then it’s time to regain a sense of control in the midst of what often feels like quicksand.

Here are three things you need to know about a job transition that will help you regain control and boost your self-esteem.

#1. Knowledge is Power

Knowledge about the transition process is power. When I was in my 20s and transitioning from one job to the next, I had no idea that there was actually a normal adult transition process that had been fully studied and articulated by Dr. William Bridges. According to the Bridges transition model, every transition (whether a job change or the death of a loved one) consists of three fluid stages:

By learning about what’s normal for us to experience in these stages, we begin to lessen our shame over our thoughts and feelings of anger, despair, fear, and confusion. We begin to see our job transition in the light of a normative adult transition process, and to regain a sense of control.

Knowledge about the transition process itself is power. And with that power, our sense of self begins to rise.

However, if during this time you’re struggling deeply with personal concerns, you may want to seek the counsel of professionals who can help. A therapist, trusted friend, counselor, spiritual director, or financial advisor can offer us insight. This step, too, is important in “norming” your transition process.

#2. Your Job Transition is Rich with Possibility

Though you may feel as if you’re being pitched about on a stormy sea, transitions can also be a time of great creativity and possibility. This may seem counter-intuitive. Yet, wild dreams and thoughts are normal during this time, especially in the Neutral Zone, or In-Between transition stage.

Perhaps for the first time in a long time, you’re free to take a new look at yourself and your life. Maybe it’s time to imagine what might be possible, or what you’ve always wanted to do. It could be time to begin thinking about retraining, taking a new class to sharpen skills or learn new ones, heading back to start or finish a degree.

Susan Bridges at William Bridges Associates writes:

The essence of life takes place in the neutral zone phase of transition. It is in that interim spaciousness that all possibilities, creativity and innovative ideas can come to life and flourish.

As women, we are incredibly creative beings. Creativity is in our DNA as evidenced by who and what we’ve birthed into this world. But in a time of transition, our creativity seems take a vacation when we need it most.

Yes, fear is part of the process and part of the reason why creativity flees. Yet, you can bring it back.

Lastly, transition expert Leia Francisco encourages us:

Why not think about all the crazy, wild, impossible, outrageous, out-of-the-box possibilities, even if you ultimately do not choose them? The stretching itself will prepare you for making the most of your next life chapter. (Leia Francisco, Writing Through Transitions.)

Why not use this “interim spaciousness” to dream of what might be possible? Which is a perfect segment to #3…

#3. There is Power in Writing Through Your Transition

Writing, or journaling, has repeatedly been demonstrated to be a powerful transition navigational tool. Keep in mind that journaling is writing for your own eyes as opposed to writing for someone else to read it. When you journal, you worry less about punctuation and grammar, and more about just writing from the heart, or what’s really on your mind. Everything is fair game in a journal: venting anger, dreaming dreams, imagining what’s possible, releasing what needs to be let go.

Furthermore, you don’t need an appointment. It’s available 24/7 when you are, like in the car while you’re waiting to pick you daughter from volleyball practice.

Here’s why writing can be so powerful.

  • Writing can release anger held towards your former employer
  • Your journal can hold your pent up fears and hostilities, so you don’t bring them to your next interview
  • Writing from your heart about your deepest feelings can lower your stress and improve your health which often takes a hit during a job transition.
  • Writing can also increase your chances of finding a new job (Opening Up by Writing It Down: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain, James Pennebaker, PhD and Joshua M. Smyth PhD, pg 22-23)

In conclusion, once the acute shock of a job change has happened, it’s time to begin reflecting on your situation regardless of whether you view the job transition good, bad, or somewhere in between. Writing can be an important tool during this time, one that can help you safely release your emotions, deal with anger, and discover new possibilities.

Stay tuned for my new series on Job Transitions and What You Can Do To Help Yourself which will include some journaling prompts to get you started. Sign up here. 

Need some quick ways to practice self-care during your transition? Here are 5 ways to begin:


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