For many Americans, identity is tied to work. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, more than half of workers in the United States define themselves based on their job, and have been doing so consistently since 1989. But it’s important to figure out whether you identify with your professional occupation or with the organization you work at. Dealing with bouts of grief instead of ignoring them can help you better navigate the complex emotions of leaving a job you love and starting fresh somewhere new.
“Colleagues can serve as “pseudo-family. While we work, our lives happen — births, deaths, breakups — and our colleagues are often there to mourn with us and to celebrate the new transitions in our personal lives. We share our lives in the workplace often in very intimate ways. All of these things provide deepening connections, support, and built-in social opportunities that we sometimes take for granted.”
“It’s really important to value the complexity of what goes on at work. It isn’t this experience where you just execute tasks. There are really complex, dynamic growth experiences that are occurring, and when you experience loss, you’re acknowledging the full breadth of all you experienced at that workplace.”
Here’s how to get ahead at work no matter what career path you’ve set your sights on, based on which side of the scale you fall for each of the four main personality pillars.
“Work to better understand the greater strategy involved in a project or initiative and to value data outside of the factual and concrete.”
Are you afraid your boss will label you a slacker if you arrive at work after her or leave before she does?
“There’s a lingering belief that the only way to prove your dedication and work ethic is to be in the office. All. The. Time… Fortunately, for the sake of your sanity and social life, that’s no longer the case.”
We all face major life transitions. Workplace, relationship, family and location transitions often lead us to adapt to new circumstances.
“People often speak of career paths as linear things, each job leading perfectly to the next. In truth, it’s a messy process. Don’t expect your next career move to be a linear move from your current position…
… Transitions are uncomfortable. Making your life more comfortable in other ways makes it easier to navigate a transition without things falling apart. Know what you need for self-care so you can make the pivot in your life…
Big leaps start with baby steps. Carve out some time each week to work on a major change.”
To be sure, finding jobs in today’s market can be discouraging and, often, it can take a lot longer than expected. Sometimes it feels like, no matter what, the end just isn’t in sight. Young professionals today must juggle crushing student loan debt, skyrocketing living costs, and a rapidly evolving hiring market.
“…feelings of depression, worthlessness and anxiety are very common in long-term job hunters. It’s important to develop a practice of resilience, given that a job can often take months to land. Developing coping mechanisms such as a meditation practice, regular physical activity, and other self care activities that can help alleviate feelings of stress and rejection. Additionally, maintaining a daily and weekly routine can help make job hunters feel more grounded even though things are up in the air.”
Following these career “rules” could actually be sabotaging your success. So how can you understand the culture at your workplace?
“It’s not about the long hours you put in, it’s about the quality of the work you do and the relationships you develop in the office.”
Sometimes, it takes a disastrous event to make us rethink our career decisions. However, there are important life decisions that you can make to prepare yourself for that change.
“Some people are really good at walling off their personal side from work. They can be absolutely miserable at their job, but happy at home or in the outside world.”
The right time to go back to work after having a baby is unique for every woman. The decision depends on a variety of factors, including your financial and family needs and your personal feelings.
“You may want to ask yourself some questions if you are ambivalent about returning to work. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”
Being a more mature job seeker comes with its unique set of challenges, and while certainly not insurmountable, they require some serious attention.
“You’re going to have to be able to have your safe space where you can talk about your own process of change and how you’re dealing with it and coping with it.”
Relocating your small business is a great sign for your business as long as the move is an upgrade. As exciting as a move to a new, bigger location is, there are a number of things to consider for your business’s relocation.
“…it’s a great time to reconnect with people by letting them know that you’ve moved. It reignites a lot of networking connections.”
Leaving your job can bring up all kinds of feelings even if you are departing for a better opportunity. Coping with this kind of loss is not something that is often discussed.
“There is a definite blurring of the line between colleagues and friends, and those relationships can mirror friendships and relationships outside of the office. This is why it’s so important to have friends outside of your work friends. If your whole life surrounds them, then if you leave, your social life goes with it.”
“Reconstruct the narrative that helps you to move on. There are things you’re taking away that will help you grow from this. Engage in the experience to learn from what happened.”
As online dating increases as a way to meet a partner, you may want to weigh how best to utilize this platform to find the person that might be right for you.
“This is not a conversation that I was having with my clients 10 years ago, but now it’s a very normal part of the dating discussion.”
Women Executives of Color face additional challenges that change important context issues related to leaning in. What are keys ways to support your process and successfully navigate the corporate ladder.
“Not all those board members need to be people of color, but there should be a few because they will have access to a [racial and cultural] experience that white executives would not.”
Depression is a huge health concern among African-Americans — particularly women — but mental health is often stigmatized in the black community. Although it can impact people from all walks of life, cultural habits and historical experiences can cause depression to be expressed and addressed differently among black women.
“Psychologists treating black women often try to help them shed some of these stereotypical experiences to kind of cope with healthier ways and to try to find a more integrated sense of self where they feel like they’re truly authentically themselves.”
The nation’s unemployment rate is at a seven-year low but many economists agree that Black America’s recovery has not yet begun, and worse still, studies show Black women have been disproportionately impacted by the Great Recession.
“Chronic pain, migraines, exacerbations of autoimmune disorders or they’ve neglected health issues because they’re afraid to become unstable at work.”
Using mindfulness and stress reduction practices can help you to spend money on what you value rather than on items or experiences aimed at generating only temporary relief from stress or anxiety.
“There’s such an emotional component to spending.”
Do you wish you could leave your job, but the money is just too good?
“You’re considering a massive life shift and life change, and the wholesale outcome can be overwhelming, but if you take bite-size pieces, it becomes more realistic and achievable.”
Can you come back from a screaming match with your boss? Or a happy-hour slip-up? With the right words, it may be possible.
“Try to address it directly as soon as possible and not let it linger or simmer. Often people don’t like to directly confront things and hope it’ll maybe just go away, or, ‘Maybe I can still work with this person despite that tension.'” That’s usually wishful thinking. Instead, ask for a meeting and “be prepared to reflect on your role in the disagreement. Even if you feel that person was 100% wrong in that interaction, you want to be able to identify what you could’ve done differently.”
Emotional intelligence encompasses more than navigating social interactions. It’s also about understanding our own emotions, and strategizing around that awareness. These inward dimensions of EQ, self-awareness and emotional discipline, can seed professional success.
“To be emotionally disciplined means to recognize how to handle different emotions at certain times. For instance, if you are receiving critical feedback, while it may be upsetting, it is important to know that it may not serve you well to respond in an angry manner (e.g. become defensive or storm off, or to cry). Emotional discipline allows you to respond appropriately to the expectations of the setting and the audience, to make the impression you wish to make. As a leader, part of emotional discipline is to model suitable behavior. During a crisis, your team may not want you to appear overwhelmed or out of control. You might talk about the challenges and some of your concerns, but it may need to be in a measured way, which provides confidence and hope to your team.”
An executive coach can be an asset to your career management especially when you choose your own to assist you in addressing your personal career transition blocks.
“Executive coaching provides leaders with focused assistance to enhance their skills, address areas for growth and receive constructive feedback.”
A job seeker’s social media presence, cover letter, resume, and interview persona function well if they… work as components of a multi-dimensional personal brand.
“Since there is always a glut of candidates, self-branding enables job seekers to truly stand out, and make a compelling case for their fit and competence. Most hiring managers/committees want a succinct narrative that demonstrates a clear, good match with their job description.”
Parents can struggle with how to help their children during the interview process. Offering support that is useful to their process without swooping in to save them is critical in building career and job search skills.
“If you have a contact which may provide key industry knowledge and can help your child improve his candidacy, you should refer your child to speak to this person.”
Can we learn from the difficult relationships some celebrities share with their children? Dramatic transitions in class experiences over a generation can affect family dynamics.
“Parents who experienced trauma, depression, addiction, or abusive behavior during childhood, may have struggled with their own mental health concerns that were difficult to address due to lack of resources. Thus, once they become parents they may bring some unhealthy coping strategies into their relationships with their own children.”
How can we reconcile the expectation that celebrities act like heroes with the reality that they are humans who can change their mind and make mistakes?
“It’s painful when a person puts all his chips—identity, deepest hopes, love, etc.—into one place only to watch it crumble under the weight of normal life.”
While career coaching can be more directive than personal counseling, it is still critical to understand a job seeker’s cultural context and how it impacts his or her career choice, challenges and development.
“A job seeker may have all the skills necessary for a particular career or job, but due to negative outcome expectations (e.g. dissatisfaction), he or she may not pursue the position or fail to persist in the career.”