How to Manage Life Transitions


It’s that time of year again. Graduation season is in full swing and students are getting ready for next steps.

This can be an extremely overwhelming time, filled with uncertainty about the future. In addition, the career landscape is changing from the pressures of economic downturns to the influx in graduate school applicants flooding academia and increasing competition.

This landscape is challenging to navigate, to begin with, and graduating into a recession does not make it any easier. If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that this is a common experience and you are not alone. Actualizing your goals of completing a degree program is exciting but it’s also scary.

For many of us, warm wishes and congratulations are followed up by anxiety-producing questions from our loved ones. It may feel a little like this. “Congrats grad! Sooooo what’s next? Any jobs lined up? What are your post-graduate plans?”

These well-meaning questions can create a domino effect that eventually leads to feelings of existential dread. Maybe you don’t have the answers and that freaks you out a bit. These small well-intentioned questions could lead to bigger scarier questions such as:

  • Did I choose the right path?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • If the early bird gets the worm, why do good things come to those who wait?
  • And more.

Before falling into this post-graduate anxiety spiral, give yourself permission to grab ahold of an anchor. Someone in your life that can help you explore your next steps in a safe and welcoming environment. You don’t have to navigate this changing landscape in the dark with no flashlight.

Tips:

  • Structure is our friend during times of change.
  • We may not have a plan or all the answers but you have the autonomy to create one. Choose to take an active role in your next chapter.
  • Lean into your supports. Be open to reaching out of your comfort zone and ask for help.
  • Explore your values and trust your instincts. Though you may feel overwhelmed, remember that you have a deep well of wisdom to draw from.
  • Set up a career counseling session so you can develop concrete goals that align with your values.
  • Clarify your goals with a trusted friend, counselor, or mentor.
  • Embrace change and roll with the punches.
  • Create a list of positive affirmations related to the change you’re navigating such as; -My worth is not connected to my job title
  • I deserve to strive toward my passions
  • I am capable and strong enough to handle what life throws at me
  • I don’t have to have all the answers right now

Whether you are a recent graduate, navigating a career change, or just contemplating some of life’s bigger questions, transitions and adjustments can throw us into a tailspin. I firmly believe that when hardships come our way there is usually a lesson in them somewhere. Change the question from Why is this happening to me? To what is this teaching me?

A liberation-focused perspective. Many times when we are in the midst of accomplishing our goals there is a chance that we lose sight of the forest for the trees. When we talk about careers and job markets it’s easy to forget our individual needs. Let’s explore the aforementioned external pressures for a moment. Where are these pressures truly coming from and can we challenge them? Securing a job does not have to mean trading your sanity for that security.

A lot of these external pressures are a result of ongoing systemic issues. We are all living in and operating in a world that has a tendency to shift systemic problems onto the individual. Take some time and explore your own worldview and value system before shouldering the responsibility.  Challenge career norms that feel toxic, return to the present moment, and listen deeply to your internal wisdom and intuition.