Changing Careers / Job Transitions

If there is one thing we can count on in life, it’s that life is always changing. Transition is simply the internal modifications we undergo in order to adapt to the changes we encounter on the outside. Not only is change and transition inevitable, they are necessary for healthy mental and spiritual growth. Career changes result for many reasons, but whatever the cause, it is a well-know fact this transitional phase is one full of emotional turmoil and stress. The degree and intensity of this turmoil however, is truly a personal choice.

A New Job, A New Career

With today’s fast-paced, hi-tech society, complete career changes or transitions within the same company are everyday occurrences. Lay-offs, closings, and employee burnout are simply part of the job. While our expectations may adhere to this type of work environment, emotionally and physically our bodies simply can’t keep up anymore.

A Wooden Path

If you're not sure where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else. - Anonymous

For many of us, we have literally become ticking time bombs. According to the National Academy of Sciences, chronic stress triggers cell deterioration, increases aging such as muscle weakness and wrinkles, accelerates hearing and eyesight problems, and in general, shortens our lifespan. This type of stress also wreaks havoc on our self-esteem and personal Relationships and puts us at risk for alcohol and drug abuse. Whether you have voluntarily decided to change jobs or you were forced to find a new career because of circumstance, stress is inevitable. How we handle this stress however, is what determines our fate. With counseling and support, we can learn to minimize the fallout and make the transition a positive experience for all involved.

Stress and Career Transition

Unfortunately, we are often defined by the job we do. Most of our daily life is focused around our job, whether it is getting up at a certain time, running errands on a particular day, the time we eat, how much money we spend, or the friends we keep. When we no longer have the same position, almost everything in our lives can change. There are basically four areas affected by a career transition. Probably one of the most highly impacted areas is our personal identity. Over time, we get used to being a certain person who does a certain job and when that job title changes, we lose a sense of who we are. Whether or not the change is a positive one, we still experience stress.

Most assuredly, income can be affected by changing careers whether it is unemployment, starting a new business, or simply moving within the same company. Even if the new job means more money, adapting to a different lifestyle and a new boss can be stressful.

When we lose our job or make changes to our routine because of employment, we also lose a sense of structure to our daily life. There is a tremendous amount of comfort in establishing and living within a well-defined routine. You know what to expect, because you have lived it so long. With a new career, this is wiped out. The future becomes uncertain, so while there is certainly an amount of excitement that can come with it, there is also a high level of stress. If you are starting your own business, the hours will be much longer, if you are altering shifts, you will have an entirely new routine to contend with and if you find yourself unemployed, you will lose your daily routine all together. Whatever the case, once we alter the expected structure of our day, we become stressed.

Finally, our social lives can change dramatically when we change jobs. We no longer see co-workers everyday. If we socialize outside the workplace, these relationships frequently die off when we no longer work together simply because we lose that common bond.

When Do I Need Help when Changing Jobs or My Career?

According to Dr. Julius Segal, there are three types of events that cause major stress. You can experience something that causes you to lose a special relationship in your life. There are events over which you have no control and leave you feeling helpless and there are those events that have lasting consequences. Career transition falls into each of these categories. When we lose or change our job, we also lose special friendships with co-workers and business associates. If we are forced to change jobs because of the hours or pay or we are laid off or fired, we often feel like we have no control over the situation. Job changes can also have lasting consequences on our self-esteem, financial earnings, and personal Relationships. All of this causes undue stress.

When this stress begins to seriously affect your daily life, it is time to seek outside help. There are several warning signs that counseling may be beneficial. If you are constantly tired for no apparent reason, if your eating habits or sleeping patterns change drastically, or you begin to have headaches and stomach problems and there are no physical explanations, it may be time to see a counselor. When we are over-stressed our immune system suffers so if you find you are constantly sick or if you start drinking or smoking more that usual, it may be a sign to consider counselling. Consistent feelings of anxiousness or irritability are also good indicators that you are beyond your level of manageable stress. If you find you want to be alone more often than not, or you feel depressed much of the time, a counsellor can provide a supportive ear and give you the tools you need to get through this transitional period. Change is inevitable in life but not all change has to be bad. Sometimes all we need is a new point of view on the situation to turn things around. Counseling can provide us with this new perspective.

Counseling for Career Change & Transition

Good counselors approach career change counseling with an outlook to developing a rewarding and enjoyable career. In some instances, career assessments are used to determine the area of focus that will best fit your interests, skill sets, and the type of work environment that is most fitting for your personality. Aside from the focus on actual career direction, the counsellor also addresses the emotional implications that changing or losing your job have on self-identity. This is often a time of personal reflection for where you have been in your career and how this has contributed to the person you are today.

Other considerations in counseling may include the short term implications of loss of income and how to manage financially during this transition. Family obligations may continue, and your Theravive counselor will help to develop a plan to meet these commitments during this time of change. Throughout this process, the counsellor is committed to resolving any identity or self-worth issues that arise, in addition to providing support and direction (through assessments) for your future career path as you move through one of life great changes.

If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.


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