HELPFUL TIPS: Smooth out the Transition Rollercoaster

By Rick Peterson

All of us have experienced the uncertainty and frustrations of career transition and the emotional rollercoaster that our current “full-time job” engenders. Some have experienced virtual rocket launches and supersonic crashes.

Because we are human and have feelings, this cannot be totally eliminated, but there are tools that can help smooth out the Transition Rollercoaster.

A written plan is one frequently overlooked/underutilized tool to address many, many problems and frustrations during transition!

A written plan enables us to:

 See where we are going/ keep focused on our goals and keep going through distractions

 Track our progress

 Adjust our activities to be more realistic and effective

 Gain perspective and approach all aspects of our transition strategically

 Anticipate and prepare for challenges rather than always jumping through surprise hoops

 Keep one step ahead of our emotions

Most of us keep a task list. That is not a plan – but it can be a significant start. An effective plan can be very simple. There are only three key components:

1. Written goals

2. Written realistic tasks to achieve each goal

3. Written timeline (time estimate and target date to complete each task)

NOTE: I did not say targets to achieve goals (those might come later). By focusing on tasks we can more effectively evaluate the tasks, our plans, our progress, and how to fix problems.

Some of us are very skillful with plans and some struggle to list their tasks and have no idea how to track their progress.

Start where you are! Your first cut may be a brilliant marketing plan for your transition, or it might be a statement of one goal and a list of a few vague tasks. Every plan is a living document to be effective it must be updated, expanded, clarified, refined, and adjusted.

A few hints:

 Start now! Draft your first plan today.

 Don’t worry about what it looks like, as long as you can read it.

 Review your plan. (Are the tasks and timelines realistic? Make adjustments as needed.)

 Make it comprehensive. (Your plan should holistically include all aspects of your life, not just your job search tasks.)

 Make a way to record/store each revision/update of your plan. (That is a good way to track your progress and effectively adjust your approach and plan.)

If you need help, seek it out among your PSGCNJ friends and neighbors (or join the Transition Management Team (TMT)). We are all here to help each other.

If you can help someone, make your skills known and share your talents (TMT could use good facilitators). Just remember – we are a support group! Never criticize another’s efforts! Suggestions for improvement are much more effective when given with sugar rather than salt.

A written plan can be a powerful tool to help us survive the ups and downs of transition and land in our next career position.

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