To this day, I remember hearing the words, “Your name is on the list.” Those six words marked the beginning of the most significant career transition of my life. This statement told me my position was being eliminated. I was now included with several other leaders who had just become unemployed. For me, this would be the first time in my life.
I recall other career transitions that, at the time, seemed as significant: Early in my career I was called into a department meeting and told that our director was “no longer with the organization.” Another was when I was called into a large meeting with other organizational leaders to hear the words, “We are merging our organization with…” Ironically, these messages, which didn’t take long to deliver, would have a huge impact in my life and others.
Are you amid a significant life or career transition? Regardless of the circumstances, you immediately wonder what the change means for you, the friends you work with and your organization. You might experience anxiety as this leads you into the “unknown,” unable to predict what’s next for you; and, let’s face it, most of us hate the unknown. We like predictability in our lives. Yet, career transitions present unpredictability.
In addition to fear, another normal reaction is to imagine the worst. I’ve been there and done it. While frightening, the reality is, within each career transition, there is a new opportunity for us. Can you embrace it?
With the unknown is possibility: You might go from being moderately successful to a new situation where you are unbelievably successful. You might end up working with someone extremely skilled in developing you for career advancement. Your career could take off beyond your wildest dreams. Who knows what opportunities might be in front of you?
Transitions are intended to help us accept change. The “in between” helps you move from one thing to something different. A simple example is the entrance of spring – the transition from winter to summer, from cold weather to warm weather.
While transitions are part of life and designed to help us, I don’t find that we are prepared for many of them. Most of us grow up in an orderly life with slow transitions, like moving from grade to grade in elementary school, transitioning smoothly from one teacher to the next. Yet our work-life isn’t always so orderly. In fact, it often throws fast and unexpected transitions at us, unnerving us.
In scripture, Jesus tell us to take things one day at a time and not to worry about what we don’t control. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25, 27, 34).
Focus on today and what you can do today. Tomorrow has enough problems of its own.