10 Tips for Discovering What Comes Next!

By Jeannette Fitzwater

So let me share a scenario with you. A woman is entering her “empty nest” period. She has been very accomplished and recognized in her area of expertise. However, for some reason, she increasingly feels a sense of unrest. With her new freedom comes a time to explore what comes next in her life. It may be partially what she will do in personal life, but it also centers on how she views herself and her career. Even more importantly, how will she make a difference? When someone speaks of her accomplishments, just what will they say? Do you know someone like this? Or perhaps, is this a description of you?

Career transitions, whether voluntary or involuntary, can be stressful. If you have had the security of a previous success, it is often difficult to “step out” to the next stage. After all, you have worked for years to become comfortable. Perhaps being comfortable is no longer enough! If you are embarking on a major mid-life career transition, I offer some tips to consider:

1. Take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths, challenges, marketable skills? Evaluate your past experiences—volunteer successes, workplace accomplishments and valuable family experiences. How have these influenced—positively or negatively—your transitions? How can they help you with your next transition? Which skills may you transfer?

2. Step up your self-care. Major changes are both physically and emotionally taxing. You need self-care now more than ever. It’s ok to be inwardly focused during this time. Many women find that it is an ideal time to engage in some career or personality assessments. Give yourself the gift of self-exploration and appreciation.

3. Engage your curiosity. What went wrong, or right? What could you have done better? What worked really well? Is there anything you would change, if you could? Your world is an empty palate. Paint your own portrait!

4. Focus on what you want and less on what you don’t want. Keep your eye on the prize. The investment you make in focus will pay you multiple dividends.

5. Find support. Since your transition affects your family as well, it may be better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. An outside resource may just give you the objective viewpoint that could make the difference for you. They will push you to next level when your loved ones are too “polite” to be assertive.

6. Work on your own thoughts. Often your own “self-talk” can be your worst enemy. Calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness. A positive attitude is a great benefit.

7. Reassure (or avoid) those who are threatened by, or jealous of, the change. It’s too easy to be pulled down by negative influences. Be protective of your environment. You desire to be in a supportive and forward-thinking atmosphere.

8. Create your own rite of passage. Ceremony and ritual help with all transitions. Celebrate your small successes! Eventually they will add up to your milestones toward achievement.

9. Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.” Don’t allow your mind to keep replaying those same mistakes from your past. Find appreciation for what is. By now you have lots of stories and experiences. Focus on the future while appreciating the experience you have gained from the past.

10. Keep things in perspective. Or try on a new perspective. Don’t get stuck. Remember, the only constant is change. Wouldn’t you rather drive change than be driven by it? Relish the opportunity to control your destiny!

A successful career transition is just that. It doesn’t happen overnight. There will be ups and downs. However, you’ve been through this. You are at an ideal stage to consider a little risk. Enjoy what lies ahead. In the end, only you will be the one to judge the success of your next transition!

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