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Are you one of several million people who has recently left your job? Or, are you thinking about making a career change? Or are you, perhaps, hoping to switch roles or responsibilities in your current workplace? Whatever the case, it’s crucial to start thinking about and preparing for the transition ahead. Smooth transitions are usually not accidental. They take a good deal of reflection, forethought, strategy, and adaptability. Today, I’d like to discuss three keys to a successful transition.

Before we dig in, I need to give credit where credit is due. Dr. Jean Davidson, an experienced coach and consultant, is the originator of the “Three Keys” concept. She founded Davidson Consulting and Coaching in 2004, and has helped many individuals and teams step into the best versions of themselves. Dr. Davidson’s eBook, 3 Keys to Finding Hidden Treasures in a Difficult Transition, discusses transitions from a unique angle, and in this blog post I’m going to paraphrase some of that information. (If you find this information helpful, I highly encourage you to download Dr. Davidson’s complimentary eBook from her website!)

Let’s dig in to the “3 Keys.”

1. Notice where you are in the journey

There is power in observation. It pays to slow down, reflect, and think about where you are in your transition journey. Do you think you’re close to the beginning of your journey? Toward the end? Or somewhere in the middle? What roadblocks are you facing now, and which ones do you anticipate in the future?

This intentional reflecting is important, as it helps us identify our current state, where we’d like to go, and what might be standing in the way of us getting there.

2. Look for treasures and use them

Though you might not realize it in the moment, there are valuable lessons to be learned during a transition. Oftentimes, we’re too busy trying to get through the transition that we don’t absorb the life lessons and wisdom we gain from experiencing it. And this attitude makes sense—transitions can be difficult and uncomfortable. The last thing most of us want to do is dwell on them!

But that’s precisely where you’ll find the lessons, the “treasures,” buried in the folds of uncertainty and stress. What types of lessons?

Perhaps you’ve learned about your personal resiliency. Maybe you’ve shifted to a career that pays less but grants you more time off, thus teaching you how to appreciate personal time. Or maybe your transition has taught you something about your support network—those important family members and friends who have your back (and, conversely, maybe you’ve learned who doesn’t have your back and who you might need to distance yourself from).

All of these lessons are true treasures. We simply have to look for them. (Dr. Davidson goes into more detail on how to do this in her eBook.)

3. Identify what to let go of

As you move forward in your transition journey, you will likely discover that some things no longer serve you. Some of your habits, tendencies, attitudes, or even relationships may no longer fit into this new chapter of your life. Reflect on your new path forward and consider what you need to leave behind. Some of your decisions about what to reject might be relatively easy (ditching your habit of overworking, for instance, or ridding yourself of the tendency to be too much of a people pleaser). But other decisions may be more difficult (Do you let go of that harmful friendship, or do you attempt to repair it? Are you really ready to put an end to certain bad habits?).

I challenge you to be frank and honest with yourself. What do you need, going forward? And what will inhibit your progress or, worse, drag you back to square one? Cut the things from your life that will only weigh you down—the self-expectations, the harmful relationships, the toxic beliefs, the bad habits.

After you determine what to let go of in your life, follow through! Make a plan for how to rid yourself of these things and take action. Communication and honesty will go a long way in this process.

Transitions can be tough, but they can also open new doors and provide an opportunity for you to reinvent or rejuvenate yourself. Take your time, learn from your journey, and let go of anything that is harmful or holding you back. Walk forward on your new path with clarity and confidence.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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Margaret Smith Career Coach

I’ve worked with several people over the years who have told me they were hesitant, at first, to seek out a career coach. Some weren’t sure if it was really for them (only people who are desperate need a coach, right?). Others weren’t certain that they would feel comfortable discussing their dreams and fears with a coach. Still others had trouble admitting that they were feeling stuck (I can pull through this on my own!).

It’s true that not everyone needs a career coach. If you’re perfectly happy in your occupation, have a solid 5 year plan, and have your retirement plans all figured out, then you’re probably fine. The majority of us, however, aren’t quite so lucky.

Whether you’re struggling with something specific (a particular project, a troublesome co-worker, or an overbearing or inattentive boss) or a bigger-picture issue (figuring out your career path, working toward a raise or promotion, transitioning into a new career), it’s a good idea to enlist some help.

That’s where a career coach comes in.  Kathy Caprino is a career coach and author of “Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose.” She says, “You know you need outside help from a career coach when you’re stuck in any phase of the pipeline of bettering your career or changing it.” Exactly. When you’re feeling caught and don’t know how to proceed, it’s best not to slog forward and hope for the best. Have the courage to reach out and contact a professional.

Another piece of great advice comes from career coach Nancy Collamer. She suggests that it’s best to hire a coach before a “kind of bad” situation turns into an all-out tsunami. She says, “I believe that the best time to begin using a career coach is before you need one. I realize that’s not always possible (you could get blindsided by a layoff), but most career issues brew for a long time before boiling over. So it’s best not to wait until you are in full crisis mode before seeking help.”

A good coach resembles a mentor. There are several areas a capable career coach can help with:

  • Defining goals and creating an action plan to achieve them.
  • Job search, résumé, and interview prep
  • Working through significant career transitions
  • Developing confidence, competence, and promotion-worthy skills
  • Building leadership attributes
  • Planning for the next phase of your career (or retirement)
  • Creating a personalized plan for success

If you’re wondering if a career coach is right for you, let’s talk. You might be amazed by what a little guidance can do for your career.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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