Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Personal Development

Thanks for joining me in this ongoing series on Life Transitions.

On day 1, I introduced the topic and talked about some of the biggest life transitions I’ve gone through.

On day 2, I shared about resistance.

Here in day 3, we’re going to be looking at jobs and careers.

More Than Likely, You Will Have 7+ Careers in Your Lifetime

The average person will have six to seven careers in their lifetime. You’ve probably heard that stat before, but to be honest, it’s probably a conservative number.

That being the case, being prepared for transitions is wise.

Whether it’s keeping your resume up to date, or keeping your network warm, there are certain activities that can lead to positive outcomes long-term.

A major factor affecting careers today is the pandemic as well as rapid advancement in technology. Artificial intelligence and machines aren’t the way of the future. They are already here and are quickly replacing and taking over menial jobs.

No one can say for sure exactly what the future will hold. Maybe money as we know it will be replaced by “social currency” and we’ll be rewarded for drinking daiquiris in our backyards. Maybe we’ll be working together with machines. Or maybe we’ll be doing the high-level thinking and strategic work.

Whatever the case, the one thing you can count on is change.

Why Career Transitions Are Challenging

Oftentimes, transitions are challenging because they are unexpected.

Many of us will choose jobs and careers thinking we’ll be staying in the same industry or same job role forever. Some of us have an entire career path mapped out for themselves.

But the souring can happen on either side. You might unexpectedly lose the passion for your work. Or the company you’re working for might need to let you go because you are no longer the best fit.

And let’s face it – if the average person has seven or more careers in their lifetime, it’s quite likely that we’ll all be transitioning more often than we like.

That’s a good thing to keep in mind, however, and if you can think long-term, you can plan for change and be prepared for what’s to come.

Transitions can also be frustrating simply because we may feel we are owed something or like we gave the best years of our lives to our job.

It doesn’t change the resistance we might experience, or the simple fact that we’ll need to begin looking for new opportunities though.

So, I don’t focus on “processing” too much. It’s overrated. Thinking and reflection time is useful, but complaining about what has gone wrong only adds resistance to the situation.

Why I Stopped Being the “Go-to” Guy

In my life, I’ve made several career shifts. If I were to draw out the trajectory, it might look something like this:

Visual Artist > Web Designer > Guitar Instructor > Musician > Writer > Community Builder > Entrepreneur

But this is a rather simplistic overview. It doesn’t tell the whole story, because I’ve paid my dues as a laptop salesman, church custodian, and beverage server as well.

Further, it wasn’t a static progression from one career to another. There was (and still is) a lot of overlap.

Nevertheless, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do in my working life was to begin saying “no.”

Between fall 2014 and summer 2016, I had said “yes” to every opportunity that came my way – content writing, guitar instruction, theater tech work, and community work.

By summer 2016, though, I had to begin saying “no” to certain opportunities. I figured out that I’d be able to work completely from home if I focused on content work. And that was an attractive proposition given that I was living in Calgary at the time, driving between NW, SW, downtown, and even Cochrane (30 minutes outside of Calgary).

Before fall 2016, I was asked whether I’d return to teach guitar in Cochrane and saying “no” was truly the most difficult part because I was so used to taking everything on, and liked being the “go-to” guy.

What’s important to understand about career transitions is that many times they can usher in a paradigm shift. Being the “go-to” guy wasn’t practical for me anymore. If I had continued like that, I would have burned out, which surely would have affected my health.

Handling Career Transitions

Based on my experience (things I did well and didn’t do well), here are some things you should do when handling career transitions:

  • Take time to reflect. What has worked to this point? What hasn’t? What changes do you require based on current circumstances (health, energy, passion, etc.)? if you rush ahead without consideration for where you are now, you could end up sacrificing your health, finances, relationships, or otherwise.
  • Take care of yourself. You are the resource. Every cent you’ve ever earned is because of you, not because of a job or an opportunity. Honor that. Take care of yourself. If you need time to change your diet, get in an exercise routine, begin meditating or otherwise, take it.
  • Understand the risks. At times, we will choose between riskier, and less risky opportunities. Oftentimes, we won’t know which is which until after the fact. You don’t need to choose less risky career opportunities every time. But make sure you’re prepared in case things don’t work out.
  • Learn from every opportunity. I invested $60,000 in a music industry tech startup that I thought would make me a millionaire… which is how things would have gone in a perfect world. That’s not what happened. But while the business was slowly being pulled under, I was blogging, podcasting, and writing a book. I’m glad I had a backup plan. But no experience has ever gone to waste.

Jobs & Careers, Final Thoughts

Of the many life transitions that exist, career and job transitions can be significant.

The uncertainty can be uncomfortable and having to rethink your career path or work life can be difficult.

I hope you found this post valuable.

How many careers have you had? How do you handle transitions?

I look forward to sharing more on life transitions, and if you have any questions on this topic, please let me know.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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