In the past, a career was static, and it was a stable part of your identity.  But times have changed and if is more like this:

“Hi, I’m Molly and I have an undergrad in political science, worked at a tech start up for a couple years, quit to pursue art full-time, and then went into consulting to pay the bills.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s no wonder why you feel confused and you could be experiencing a career identity crisis. Even if you undergo only one or two major career shifts in your lifetime, those shifts can hit you hard. 

Our work doesn’t just feel like something we do; it feels like something we are. This can be healthy or unhealthy depending on your relationship to your career, but the point is that a change in your career signals a change in you. And when that change is uncomfortable, you feel uncomfortable.

When you want to leave an old career for a new career, the question is not just, “How will I do something new?” You also wrestle with, “How will I be someone new?”

Career transitions are the new normal and to be expected.  Careers today are fluid, so it is important to learn how to go with the flow.  Here are some tips to help: 

Schedule a Social Life

While it may be tempting to isolate yourself when you feel like you don’t have it together, it’s important that you have somewhere to be and people to interact with, especially if you’re in a situation where you suddenly have lots of downtime.

Give Yourself Permission to be “In-Between”

You won’t be here forever, so for awhile it’s ok to be uncertain.  For now, you get to not know everything. And don’t worry – you will sort things out and recover. 

Write About Who You Are

This can be list form, stories, notes about your past, or what you’re doing now.  Reconnect to who you are.  You ARE more than your career. Remember who you are—just you, without work defining you. 

Do Things That Make You Feel Like Somebody

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself when you are in the middle of a career crisis.  To counteract that, you need to do things that make you feel capable.  Maybe it is creating art, helping a friend, rearranging your house, or spending time with your nephew. 

Directly Address Career Issues

Oftentimes when something is off in our careers, we feel that we have no control over it.  So, instead of addressing our careers head on, we tinker with other areas of our life.  We start a creative project, invest more in our social lives, or endeavor to do more self-care.  While these can improve the quality of life, they don’t solve the core problem. Take direct action to resolve the conflict in your career, and you’ll feel powerful and more like you.