Thinking of changing your career path, or dealing with changes in your current career path can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming. It comes with feelings of uncertainty, as you are about to leave an old job routine or enter an unfamiliar industry. In this article, you will learn some healthy coping strategies to navigate your mental health during this transitional phase of your career.
Dealing with anxiety and change
Understanding and recognizing your anxiety, whilst stepping into the unknown is important. It will allow you to cope and prevent negative consequences like overthinking, ruminating, and diving into negative thoughts. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Are my thoughts in line with reality, or do they seem irrational?
Sometimes when we are anxious, we tend to think of the worst-case scenarios. But why does this happen? It is because when we are in a state of anxiety, we perceive situations as a threat or danger. Our body is on high alert, stress hormones (cortisol) are released and the body elicits the “fight or flight” mode. The human tendency is traced back to our ancestors’ need for survival, an evolutionary survival mechanism. So when faced with a threatful situation, our brains have evolved to focus on worst-case situations to protect and prepare for the worst that can come.
Let’s keep in mind that stress in a fair amount is essential to perform tasks. An optimal amount of stress activates the body, and acts as the drive of motivational energy to complete tasks, according to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, given by Psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson. The law suggests that arousal levels can affect our performance, and how a little bit of stress helps to perform the best, but at the point when arousal becomes excessive, the performance diminishes. Thus, we can say a little bit of stress is important, but too much is detrimental for us to function well.
What positive experiences have I had before while facing the unknown?
Remind yourself the last time you faced a situation that elicited a lot of uncertain feelings, what did you do to deal with the transitions? Guide and provide evidence to yourself that you’ve dealt with and handled uncertainty before, so you can do it now as well.
Congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone!
While you might be worried and stressed about what will happen? where things might lead? will I be good at this? Was this a good decision? Know that it takes a lot of courage to step out of your old routine, a.k.a, your comfort zone.
Focus on your strengths:
According to Bandura’s social cognitive theory, a person on the path of setting up a career development plan requires a positive view of their abilities (self-efficacy) and a positive network of mentors surrounding them. Bandura believed that an individual’s motives and behaviors are based on their experiences and influenced by how they perceive themselves, what they see other people achieve & actions they take, and certain factors around them that they cannot control.
Self-efficacy is defined as our perception or belief in accomplishing certain tasks. It is linked with our self-concept. While transitioning from one career to another, building self-efficacy is crucial for your success. Clearly define your career goals. What do you want to achieve in your new field? What is my aim/ purpose? Why am I taking this big step? This will provide direction and purpose to kickstart your new beginning.
Start from small to big, and list down small, attainable goals that you will accomplish very easily. Place a habit of setting these achievable goals. In the case of larger tasks that seem overwhelming to complete, break them down into smaller, manageable steps.
Highlight the skills and experiences from your previous jobs that you can transfer into the new career. Network with professionals in your desired field, who will help you support and guide you in the process of transitioning. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and see what skills you need to build to contribute to the success of your new career. Self-awareness and continuous learning will boost your confidence.