Young man walking out of a door.

July 23, 2021, by indybamra1

Your Career Awaits! How To Manage Change

By Susie Ward, Counsellor – University of Nottingham Counselling Service

Leaving university and starting working life can come as a bit of a shock. You are not alone in feeling some uncertainty and anxiety about your future. Applaud yourself for navigating your way through a pandemic and graduating in such tough times. Acknowledge these huge achievements.

Before you can welcome the new, acknowledge and let go of the old

Make time to reflect on what leaving university means to you, what you are saying goodbye to, and what this next transition in your life represents. Giving this space and time can help you to feel more ready to adjust to what lies ahead and start making steps towards your own new ‘normal’.

What is the difference between change and transition?

Change is the new external event or situation taking place (leaving university) that calls for a move from the familiar, and the way things used to be, to the new and unfamiliar. Transition is what happens in people’s minds as they go through change. The internal psychological process that you will experience as you internalise and come to terms with change.

Reflecting on previous transitions and learning from experience

Consider changes and transitions you have already encountered and at the time may have felt overwhelming and not only survived but gained and learned from each experience. Leaving home and starting University might be one to recall. Take some comfort and confidence in knowing that you have dealt with change before and you can do it again.

Acknowledge how you feel and what impact this might have

Leaving university involves loss, the loss of a role, people in such close proximity, a place, a routine, a life stage, and perhaps a sense of where you fit into the world. You are likely to feel negative feelings including anger, numbness, self-doubt, anxiety, and confusion. The culture we live in has taught us to be uncomfortable with uncertainty, so it is understandable to feel anxious when our lives are disrupted. However, these feelings will pass.

As much as you might want to push negative feelings away there is some truth in the idea that what we resist persists! You will move through these feelings with more ease if you can acknowledge, name, and express them. Just try and be kind to yourself and remember all of this takes time.

Adopting a positive mind-set

As we are informed on an ongoing basis ‘change’ is a constant in life so leaning into change, and re-framing it as something that is positive and provides growth opportunities can help us. Having said this, don’t worry if your mood and feelings fluctuate along the way. It’s very human to experience a mixture of feelings in this situation.

Strategies for dealing with change

Moving into your career and the steps you take to get there can be incredibly rewarding and provide you with a new sense of purpose, meaning, identity, experience, maturity, and confidence. It is common to fear what we don’t understand, so the more you check out areas of interest relating to your career, the more able you are to set yourself realistic expectations and shift towards this new direction.

Here are some ‘tips’ to guide you through this transition:

  • Commit to your health and wellbeing through regular self-care. As you work through the ‘loss’ of what you are giving up and what you are about to start, prioritise your basics as this will help you to manage stress, difficult emotions, and new experiences more effectively. Remember, a healthy work/life balance is important, and having a routine will help to navigate some of the stresses that accompany new challenges.
  • Work on regulating overwhelming feelings. Invest time into experimenting with techniques that help you to manage stress, calming both your body and mind.
  • Stay anchored in the present. Practice meditation or breathing techniques to quieten your ‘overthinking’ mind and tune into your body. Be aware of the impact of negative thinking and practice gently challenging these thoughts or just letting them go.
  • Adjust your expectations and keep things in perspective. Let go of expectations that no longer fit what is currently going on. Stay steady when your mind is swept away by thoughts of worst-case scenarios and turn to the best case or most realistic scenarios. Appreciate your first job will not be your last and could simply be a stepping-stone. Even if it does not tick all of your boxes, treat it as an experience to learn from.
  • Have a support system. Don’t feel as though you have to go through this on your own, be brave and talk to friends and family. Try to be open about how you are feeling and lean into asking for emotional support. If it’s hard to do this, there are many organisations locally and nationally that provide free support and advice.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. As you embark upon your career journey, stay in your own lane. This is a time of reflection, listening to yourself, and working out your values and priorities. Don’t worry if there are setbacks on the way, just keep on going, picking yourself up and dusting yourself down as many times as you need to. Embrace the journey rather than being stuck on the outcome or destination.

Good luck in waving bye to the old and saying hi to your next eventful chapter.

The University of Nottingham Counselling Service provides a year-round service for all students. They offer a range of services including groups and workshops, self-help resources and individual counselling. To discuss any aspect of your career you can book a careers appointment with one of our advisers.

Posted in Career wellbeingChoosing Your Career