Change is nothing new for me.
Since leaving graduate school in 1980 I have lived in 14 different condos, houses and apartments. I have owned four homes in three different states. In that time frame I have held 13 different jobs (I worked for one company twice.) Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had lived in one place for most of my life or, at least, stayed in some places longer. But, I look back at this peripatetic lifestyle with few regrets. Some of the changes were self-initiated and some were out of my control, but all in all, I’ve enjoyed the changes. I’ve enjoyed living in different parts of the country and all of the people I’ve met along the way.
That’s not to say, though, that navigating these transitions has been easy. The changes foisted upon me were the most difficult to navigate. I had to deal with the anger and disappointment and the inevitable despairing question, “What am I going to do now?”
The not-so-amazing development is that things always worked out. I was (and still am) willing to follow paths that seemed a little “out of the box” for me. For example, I was in a position where I knew my days were numbered. In anticipation of that job loss, I started working with an executive recruiter to to explore vocational next steps. When my job came to an end (as I expected) the recruiter offered me the opportunity to work with him as a partner in his executive search firm. This is a path I would never have considered on my own and the time spent in this vocational detour offered me valuable and unusual experience. Plus it was fun.
I have also been willing to take transitional employment that had nothing to do with my vocational or avocational aspirations. The learning from those jobs has been invaluable to me. While these jobs did not pay a lot, I worked with people whose stories were very different from mine. I gained a more realistic perspective on my own issues and widened my understanding of others. These jobs helped to assuage my anxiety by getting me out of the house and helping me to focus on something other than my own situation. I’ve learned new skills as well as gained a small understanding of how corporate America works.
Another resource for dealing with vocational change is to be prepared as you can for it. This has always helped me navigate all the change I’ve experienced and helped me initiate my own changes. Save as much money as you can. Stay out of debt, as best you can. Build a network and aways be networking. Follow every potential opportunity that lands in front of you. Most of them will not lead to permanent employment, but it only takes one and the people you meet along the way will become part of your network.
I’ve always been excited by the idea of change and I’m sure this has contributed to my openness to initiating change in my own life. In today’s world, change is a fact of life so the more open to it and prepared for it you are the better you will navigate the change.
Can see why Ivy Beckwith is part of the Imaginative Transitions team! Join us for our Workshop — Now What? — on Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Columbus, OH.