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Staying Motivated During a Career Transition

Staying motivated during any major project or transition can be a challenge. I am currently engaged in a whole house renovation project on a tiny farm I purchased in Central Wisconsin. Even projects or events such as this creative endeavor can be a daily motivational challenge. (If you'd like to follow this project, check out my blog at

Career transition can be one of the most stressful times we encounter and staying motivated during this marathon event can take a great deal of stamina. Whether the transition started because you chose to make a change or because your organization chose to make a change for you, transitions can be challenging.

Finding your next position or opportunity can take from just a few weeks to more than a few months. Recent employment data indicates that if you are out of a job before securing a new job, you can expect that for each $10,000 in salary you desire, one month of search time will be needed to find your ideal job. So, if your salary goal is $60,000, you might expect it to take 6 months to find a job that meets your needs and you are skilled for.

For most Americans, being out of work for 6 months or more can be financially devastating, and thus incredibly stressful. Staying motivated during such times of stress is critical to your success but can seem monumental in scope.

When I work with my career transition clients, we focus on three main activities to help them stay focused and motivated.

1. Stay energized. Ensure each day contains activities that fill you with energy and revitalize you. For some folks, a walk in the woods, a swim in the pool, or breakfast with a friend adds just the right ingredient to help them feel energized throughout the day.

Activity: Make a list of 15 activities that give you energy—they feed you and fill you up. When you need a bit of “pick-me-up”, pick up this list and choose the activity that feels right for that moment.

2. Build resilience. Resilience is a key component within the job search or career transition process. There will be days when you are very productive—people are responding to your résumé, interviews are being scheduled, and you are making good progress. On other days, things will seem to be at a standstill. You may feel lost, frustrated, and stuck.

Activity: An effective way to strengthen your resilience is to draw on past challenges and respective successes. This exercise instills in you the confidence to move forward because of similar past successes you’ve had.

Use the following questions to guide you.

  • Note an experience that was stressful, difficult, or challenging in some way and how you handled this experience effectively.

  • How did this experience make you feel?

  • What behaviors did you demonstrate that got you through this difficult time?

  • What did you learn about yourself based on this experience?

  • Taking note of your answers above, how can you apply this knowledge to your current situation?

3. Goal setting and accountability. Setting goals is another way to stay motivated. Goals need to be specific and realistic to be effective in helping us accomplish what we want.

Activity: Identify your goals. Each goal you set should help you answer:

  • What will be done?

  • By when will it be done?

Accountability is key to staying motivated to achieve your goals. Seek out a reliable friend or professional that will keep you focused on achieving your goals. Choose someone that will keep you challenged and on task. One of the main reasons professionals seek out coaches is to help them develop solid goals and ensure accountability for their actions. If you are interested in this level of support, check out International Coach Federation and search for a trained and certified professional coach.

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