Career change: Handling traumatic change and big decisions

A career change can come about suddenly through making a difficult personal choice, life circumstances, or severe career and job dissatisfaction. Quite often it's a combination of very tough, traumatic situations. This can leave people wondering where they stand, and how to create a real career for themselves out of the debris of the big change.

The decision to change careers brings with it a few problems, particularly when it's based on dissatisfaction. These decisions don't just happen. It takes good reasons to decide to ditch a career and the often very expensive, hard won qualifications that go with it. The issues which cause these decisions are often very traumatic.

Many people literally walk out on their former lives, along with their former careers. The original move was to get out of the career track. After that, there's often no idea of where to go or what to do. That's not where anyone really wants to be. The next problem is usually, and understandably, about how to deal with the sudden absence of a career which has been dominating their lives. They're left with a blank page on which to make decisions, and it's frequently a confusing situation.

Decision making issues: Getting focused

There really are ways to get this often horrific mess into some sort of order. The key to the process is a matter of personal perspective. That perspective can take a while getting into focus. The big break with a career or even a job is generally recognized medically as a very high stress event, a crisis point. Realistically, nobody can go through a life crisis and be expected to be totally focused and making major decisions the next day.

If you're in this situation:
  • The quick way to break the post-career mental cycle is to put some time and distance between the former situation and the decision making process. Take a break, have a holiday, get out of the mold. The change of scene and routine will reduce the old problems to background noise.
  • Allow yourself time and enough mental space to complete the break. This can take a while, but you'll find you adjust almost subconsciously. It's a perfectly natural process. Emotionally, the trauma does reduce itself after you get out of the offending environment, usually pretty rapidly.
Creating a perspective

Having tidied up the jagged edges, you can start looking at options, getting perspectives and finding practical possibilities.

These are the major considerations:

What do you really want to do? The key to any real choice has to be your preferences, something with a genuine level of incentive. Starting with your major interests is important.

How do you want to approach doing that? Practical issues create practical perspectives. Everything becomes a lot clearer, a lot sooner. The blank page fills itself in. You're getting information, not guessing.

Looking better already? You'll find the big break was a good move.