In a March, 2011 You Tube Posting, Maria Shriver requested input from others on how they were handling their transitions. She had just departed her role of First Lady of California after nearly 8 years. Transitions, be it Personal, Professional, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial can certainly put a stress on yourself and your relationships and like Shriver’s separation announcement of her marriage with Arnold Schwarzenegger, one’s life can be turned upside down by dramatic changes. Such changes as job loss, death in the family and separation or divorce can be an impetus for true soul searching and a chicken or egg analysis of what caused the transition or did the transition cause all the other changes in your life.
Shriver remarked that “It is so stressful not to know what you are doing next.” For many of us who have always been busy every day of our lives, transitions can be welcoming but also very disconcerting. Shriver articulated the same comment that many of us have said in our transitionary mode, “this is the first time in my life without a job.” Obviously the Kennedy family heir need not worry about where her next meal will be coming from but in many cases a job is more than just a financial consideration. A job is an emotional commitment – a commitment to a purpose and a cause and provides meaning to your existence.
Though we all believe deep down that the job doesn’t make the man, truth be told – your job is a personal reflection of who you are and what the world believes of you. Employment might be a 40 hour plus interlude in your busy and meaningful life, but when one finds himself without a place to be at 8 o’clock on a weekday morning, life does change. When one has dressed for success for years, it does take a little time to acclimate oneself to a life of selling a new brand – yourself.
For many, a title and a position are matters of life and death, but let’s be honest with ourselves – this is a transition, no one has died! In any transition we need the support of our network, that network that we have been establishing all these years. Our friends and business associates are there for moral support and will provide any assistance that they can.
The problem with a job search, just like any other personal transition in life, is that all the involvement is front-loaded and immediate. The longer the search, the more difficult it becomes to maintain the interest from those contacts regarding your career change. Your contacts and network have a life to live, and though you are of interest, it is not their life and they do have other matters to attend to. We all know of colleagues and contemporaries who have been involved in a lengthy search with whom we haven’t kept up because we want to be sensitive to their plight and not ask uncomfortable questions.
Like any interpersonal situation you have a wide variety of people that you interact with on any given day. Probably the most insensitive question one can ask in a transition is “Have You Got A Job Yet?” The ultimate response would be: “Yes, but I thought I would keep it a surprise from you.” Most people mean no harm but unless you have walked a mile in their shoes, you don’t really know what a transition can be for someone between positions. We know that none of us is exempt from that ultimate board decision and we also know that, by the grace of God, you too might soon be networking and searching for your next assignment.
We all can empathize with Maria Shriver, anxiety is abound when you have a void in your life and you really don’t know what is next for you. Change is stressful but life was never meant to be constant and mundane. After all, put everything into perspective – it’s not like someone has died, it is a temporary detour on a lifelong journey. A journey that none of us would ever give up on.
Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career. He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 75 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.