When considering a career change, either by necessity or by choice, we might feel unsure about how to proceed. Sometimes we do not really know what we would really like to do next.
In short, we cannot see the road ahead.
In fact, any type of transition, whether it is at work or one’s own life, involves a period of disorientation or confusion. The whole transition process, as first described by anthropologists like Van Gennep, include 3 stages:
1 Leaving the old behind
In this stage, we feel increasingly unhappy about our lives or see that we need to make a change. For example, we might be thinking of quitting our job, or moving to another country. From a psychological point of view, we no longer feel emotionally involved in our current lives and might feel tired or depressed.
2 Liminality: Being in-between
The second stage is an “in-between” phase, during which we let go of the past without really knowing yet what the future holds. This might feel uncomfortable or frustrating.
3 A new beginning
The final stage of a transition begins as we gain more clarity in our purpose and have been able to find a new direction in our life. We feel renewed energy and enthusiasm to move forwards.
Finding the way ahead
If you are feeling confused or disoriented after having left the old behind, and don’t really know how to move ahead, the best thing to do then is to accept where you are and simply notice in which direction your life energy is flowing.
Here are a few reflection questions:
What do I enjoy doing, what gives me joy and energy?
What do I dream of?
Which books, journal articles, radio programs hold my attention?
Which new course (at work) or hobby would you like to start this coming year?
Which people do you enjoy being with?
What gives meaning to my life?
Remember that you do not need to reach immediate conclusions. Too often people cut off new possibilities by thinking: “Oh but I’ll never be able to make a living out of this”. But by following new interests, you might be able to either take your career in a new direction or integrate new aspects into your current work.