Reduce Career Transition Stress Through Mindful Practice

by | Apr 3, 2020 | Career Transition

Job Search isn’t too stressful, right? Living in ambiguity, not sure what will happen is generally very uncomfortable. Add in today’s stress of a new “normal,” not knowing when we will get back to being around people, stores and businesses reopening, and potential job market interruptions, we have a lot of stress on our plates. Not to mention, where is the toilet paper?

In my work as a Career Transition Coach at Partners International, I see all of those fears start to show up reminding us of times when we didn’t think we were good enough.  Our inner critic takes little jabs at our confidence and self-esteem.  We get stuck in the past, losing that job, feeling sad or angry.   We worry about the future and become more and more anxious.

All of this is natural, especially in today’s environment and certainly makes even more sense when you are out of work and searching for your next role.  You could be trying to figure out if this is the time to do something different, to try to fulfill a dream or a passion. Maybe you think this is the opportunity to pivot to another career where you use your skills and natural gifts and try things you always loved to do! Maybe you are beginning to consider what retirement looks like, is it about not working or is it about following a dream, doing something new.

As you begin your job search, it can feel overwhelming. You need a resume, you need to re-create your LinkedIn profile, you need a pitch, you need to practice interviewing as it has been a while! All of this is coming at you at once, at the same time your confidence has begun to wane a little.

So, what can you do to reduce some of this overwhelm and take care of yourself a bit? How can you move from being stuck in overload and skittish to move forward to moving toward what you want? It can begin with becoming more present.

Our Thoughts Get in Our Way

Researchers estimate the average person has 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day; 80% of them are negative and 95% are repetitive. Easing all of this and helping to focus our mind, will let us really direct our energy toward what we need at the moment. It will allow us to handle whatever challenges come forward, maintain focus, set clear intentions and goals and shed the judgments that may be keeping us idle or held back.

One of the best ways to help you focus is through practicing being present or mindful.  Many times, this idea scares people as they think they now have to find 30 minutes in their already overwhelming existence to meditate in order to be mindful or present.  Some may question the benefits of meditation and that the people who practice this are ”woo-woo” and not serious, not professionals.   There are tremendous benefits to meditation, which include health and balance of your mind, body and soul, however mindfulness and the practice of being present does not automatically mean you must meditate for 30 minutes.

Simple Belly Breathing

You can start much more simply. A great way to get mindful and calm yourself so you can achieve focus quickly is to do 5 to 7 deep belly breaths, feeling the breath and the oxygen throughout your body.  To practice this method, sit comfortably with your eyes closed and count to 5 on the inhale, hold your breath for one and then count to 6 on the exhale. Feel the oxygen move throughout your body. Feel your body begin to relax. Once you completed 5 to 7 deep breaths, you will feel calmer in your body and will be able to focus on what you wanted to achieve in that moment.  This could make all the difference in being ready to walk into a networking event prepared to make a few connections and slaying the room, versus standing in a corner and not having the confidence to speak with people. 

Try the belly breathing technique the next time you are about to reach out to someone for networking or about to begin an interview. Use it to calm your system and achieve some focus to move forward. Perhaps use it as you navigate these uncertain times, recognizing that right now you have the ability to control only so much. 

As I coach individuals through their career transition at Partners International, I help them center themselves, calming their thoughts and preparing them to find the role that excites them and moves them forward.

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