Reflective Conversations Before Embarking On A Career Transition

Reassessing your Relationship with Work and Career

Career transitions are one of the most recurrent conversations I have with clients. But in my experience clients often want time and space to explore more reflective questions. These more personal, client-centered conversations precede the steps and strategies necessary to navigate a career transition.

Many clients I work with want to reassess the relationship they have with their current work and career, they want to explore the meaning and value work holds for them, they want to examine their own development and whether their professional growth feels congruent with their current role and responsibilities. They want to express what they feel may be missing in their current work and careers, or what is problematic about a specific work environment. These conversations are experiential and contextual. And they are an important but often overlooked step in career transitions.

Making Personally Appropriate Decisions

These more reflective conversations provide valuable insights and perspective that help clients make more personally appropriate decisions about career transitions (including whether even to embark on a transition) rather than struggle to make the “right” decision.

Is there a difference between a personally appropriate decision and the “right” decision? Yes! The clients I speak with – regardless of age and stage in life – often want to make the “right” decision when it comes to a career transition. This is certainly understandable as career transitions can be quite challenging and destabilizing. At the outset transitions can present us with more uncertainty than certainty. But what I often see and hear is the pressure to make that one “right” decision. As a result, many of the clients I speak with feel paralyzed by a huge question that is almost impossible to answer, “I don’t know what I want to do but my next career decision has to be the “right” one.”

Reflect and Collect Information

My suggestion is to take a step back, pause and reflect, gather information, and assess your current relationship with work and career.

The more information you gather the greater you expand your perspective. Such an assessment provides space to contemplate possibilities and to start making smaller personally appropriate decisions more confidently. It generates more material to help you create a customized map forward. The information you collect may not in fact lead to a career transition but may instead produce a renewed relationship to work and career. It is not about making the “right” decision but about making appropriate decisions you can stand behind at this moment in your life.

For those of you who have embarked on a career transition, or are contemplating one, for those of you who are re-assessing your relationship with work and career or reflecting on the value and meaning your current work holds for you, I have outlined a series of sample questions to help you start gathering information.

What is my “personal position”?

Sample questions:

  • What is my current attitude toward work? What meaning and value does work hold for me?
  • At this stage in my life what expectations do I have of work/career? What expectations do I have of myself? How do these expectations influence and impact my relationship with work and career? Have these expectations changed? How?
  • How would I describe the relationship I have with my current work and career? Is it personally satisfying? Why? Is it problematic? Why?
  • How would I describe my current work environment? My specific role? What works? What is problematic?
  • Have I outgrown my role? Can this role expand? Is there opportunity for professional development?
  • How do I contribute to my role or to the work I do? Am I able to contribute?
  • What do I value, what is important and meaningful to me – personally and professionally?
  • How do I feel about embarking on a career transition? How do I feel about the decisions I will have to make and about the changes a transition brings? Am I comfortable with these changes? Am I comfortable with a potential change in professional “identity”?
  • How would I rate my level of motivation? How can I prepare myself for the time and energy a career transition may require?
  • Do I have support around me, family, friends, mentors?
  • What is my day-to-day reality? What other personal contexts factor into my decisions and choices around work and career? This may include financial or health considerations, burnout, the need for and access to re-training, childcare, or the requirements of aging parents.
  • Is a career transition financially feasible? How long am I able to go without work? Is re-training or going back to school a possibility?

Based on the information you have started to gather, what is your current personal position? What stands out for you? Is this the time for a career transition?

Considering a career transition or re-assessing your current relationship with work and career? These are the conversations at Canvas Career Counselling. Contact to schedule a consultation call.