When you’re switching careers, don’t rush to a resolution

There’s a great piece of advice that Herminia Ibarra writes in Working Identity, which is to allow for a transition period between holding on to an old identity, and letting go of it and taking on a new one. She writes, “Better to live the contradictions than to come to a premature resolution.”

This assurance is important because this transition can feel extremely confusing and uncomfortable. 

Imagine that—one day, you’re set on embarking on a new path, the next you’ve decided that maybe the old path wasn’t so bad after all. One day the new path feels extremely painful and you long for the old path, and the next you remember why you’re on this new path. And this happens for months, or even years. Ibarra writes, “Rather than being a sign of one’s lack of readiness, this moving back and forth is in fact the key to successful transitioning.”

What I take away from this advice is to be present with the transition, and to let it take time. Hurry, but don’t rush.  It’s supposed to feel messy. Don’t burn the boats prematurely. Feel all of the emotions, acknowledge them, and endure through it.

Ibarra writes, “Change always takes much longer than we expect because to make room for the new, we have to get rid of some of the old selves we are still dragging around and, unconsciously, still invested in becoming.”

P.S., I particularly liked these words from Ibarra, “Watch out for decisions made in haste, especially when it comes to unsolicited offers. It takes a while to move from old to new. Those who try to short-circuit the process often just end up taking longer.”

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