Posted on August 20, 2019
Are you looking to make a change professionally? Here are seven tips for a stress-free career transition.
Making a switch to a new job is no small choice. Whether you've been planning on making a change for some time or a new opportunity arose unexpectedly, beginning a new career path is a major life transition. Many people who switch careers do so because they’re unhappy or overly stressed at their current job. Others take the leap because they see a better future ahead in a new arena.
Whatever the motivating factor behind your change, it’s exciting. People often overlook the fact that making such a big change can be very stressful. The pressure of beginning a new position can be very difficult, especially when it’s compounded with the stress of having a new routine, a different commute, and other new variables.
In times of change, staying on top of your mental health is vital. Not only will it help you to feel level-headed and organized, but it will also allow you to perform better at your new endeavor. Whether you’re looking for guidance from a therapist or just need a little extra encouragement, this article will help you through your career change. Below are some of our top tips for making a seamless transition into your new job.
Choosing a fulfilling career is an important component of creating a happy life for yourself. Maybe you have career goals that you want to achieve by a certain age or you’re looking for a better mentor within a new company. Most of the time, people move from one job to the next simply because they dislike their current position and want something different. Just remember, you deserve to feel happy--especially when it comes to your work.
Fortunately, there are professionals who are trained to help guide you towards success. Career counselors can offer career transition counseling when you’re on the job search. They can help you align your career goals with your skillset, interests, and non-work-related time commitments. Career transition counseling is a great way to get career advice when you’re feeling lost. Alternatively, maybe you have finally landed your dream job and you’re looking to stay focused during the early stages of your career change. Therapy also works during the good times, and a little extra guidance from career transition counseling is always a good idea.
So, you’ve decided to start a new job and now your excitement for the new position is turning into fear and stress. What exactly is it about the change that’s causing so much unrest? Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed without really knowing why.
A great tool to break out during stressful transitions is to track your stressors. The best way to do this is by keeping a journal of everything that’s getting to your head. In addition, you may want to monitor how you respond to stressful situations. When your new boss asks you to complete a task that you haven’t been trained to do, how does that make you feel and how do you react to it? Do you ask the appropriate questions and remember that you aren’t supposed to know everything, or do you return to your desk and spend the next two hours frantically thinking of ways to avoid the task?
By keeping track of your stress triggers and how you’re responding to them, you can get a clear idea of what it is that’s contributing to your unrest. From here, making the appropriate adjustments won’t seem quite as daunting.
We live in a digital age. Many careers today require us to be connected through various devices by answering emails, submitting data, sorting through information, and more. Increasingly, many jobs actually allow employees to work partially or completely from home. But with so much of our work life tied up in our devices, it can be difficult to know how or when to disconnect and relax.
Setting boundaries is an important aspect of working in the digital age. Just because you have the opportunity to complete work tasks from wherever you are, it doesn’t mean that you should be “on.” An important aspect of managing stress is separating your work-life from your home-life. Even if you work from home, it’s a good idea to have clear hours set aside for family and personal time.
Setting boundaries with work is especially important when you’re making a career transition and beginning a new job. Many people feel overworked when they start a new position because it takes more time and energy to complete tasks that later on will become routine. This can make it tempting to use your off-time as a time to catch up on work. While it’s definitely good to learn the ropes if you want a successful career, there’s also a fine line. Plan ahead of time and make sure you’re giving yourself a break from stressing over your new workload.
Much of the stress occurring during a career transition often lies in the relationships we have at our old job and the ones we hope to make at our new one. We spend a lot of time at work, so it makes sense that the relationships we form with our bosses, coworkers, and employees are important to us. Knowing that we’re in good standing with our colleagues (both old and new) can take a lot of the pressure off of a career transition.
The best way to achieve this is by communicating effectively. When leaving a job, it’s always best to give plenty of notice and provide your supervisor with an honest and open explanation for why you’re making the shift. This can lead to a healthy post-working together relationship, and you may even rely on your former supervisor for a recommendation in the future. At your new job, communicating clearly with your supervisor and coworkers helps to establish good relationships and open avenues for asking questions.
This tip is mainly for managing your stress once you’ve fully transitioned and started a new job. If you’re someone who suffers from anxiety, a new career transition can bring forth a whole host of emotions. It’s okay to be proactive and test out different therapy techniques before your symptoms worsen. Remember that therapists are here to support you during both the good and bad times. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from a professional if you know you’re about to enter a difficult time in your life. Being able to communicate clearly with coworkers and supervisors takes a lot of the pressure off at a new job. Asking questions can be essential to your early success.
We all want to show our new colleagues how capable and independent we are at a new job, but this attitude can also get in the way of our own learning and skill-building. Asking questions is a great way to learn new skills as well as to get closer to your colleagues. People generally like being able to help with small favors, so asking colleagues questions can help you to gain trust with your coworkers and become more proficient in your work.
Sometimes, managing stress isn’t so much about attacking the root of the problem, but more about taking care of ourselves. All of the tips we’ve provided previously can certainly help to mitigate stress during a career transition, but this huge shift is still likely to bring with it some feelings of unrest.
During times like these, there are certain tried-and-true methods of relieving tension. One such method is exercising. Exercise has been shown by countless studies to aid in your mood improvement, stress mitigation, and anxiety relief. Even if all the other advice in this article somehow fails you, you can always count on exercise to help you to feel better before your next day of work or while searching for a new job.
A lot of our stress comes from the disparity between the way things are and the way we want or expect them to be. In our work-life, this is no different. We want the perfect job and we also want to perform perfectly at work whether it’s our first day or 1,000th day. It’s great to strive for perfection in your career path, but we also need to be reasonable about our goals and abilities.
Two ways that people set the bar too high in career transitions are by expecting their new job to be perfect, and expecting themselves to be perfect at their new job right away.
Rather than wanting your new job to be perfect, try aiming for a new position that’s better than your previous one and has some elements that your last job was missing. This mindset sets you up to feel grateful and satisfied in your new workplace.
When it comes to expectations you may be putting on yourself, remember that we’re all our own worst critics. Many of your colleagues at your new job were in your shoes at one point. No one expects you to be perfect right off the bat. Do your best, but remember that there’s a learning curve.
With these seven tools in your pocket, you’re set to have a smooth and stress-free career transition. Look into career transition counseling to get even more support in your process. Advekit is here to help you find the right match today.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.