How To Transform Turning Points into Positive Career Transitions

Written by on July 6, 2015

Co-authored By Elaine Sigurdson

Feeling unhappy with work at one point or another is a virtually universal experience. Throughout the course of their careers, most people will find, at least a few times, that their job satisfaction is low. These moments can be important turning points that, if managed properly, could prepare the individual for entirely new, and entirely more fulfilling, professional challenges. Turning points often act as a catalyst for consideration of the future and a renewed focus on personal and professional goals, providing the individual can understand, make peace with any negative aspects of their current position and use that energy to fuel new career planning.

Throughout our careers as business professionals and coaches, we have witnessed firsthand these make-or-break moments. In fact, we have both found ourselves at major turning points in our own lives as well. Our experience has shed some light on the causes and effects of these turning points, as well as the actions one can take to generate positive momentum in their career.

Carol’s Take on Turning Points – Realization and Introspection

Turning points are the result of changes; these can be in the individual, the environment, or both. A workplace’s culture might shift so that it is no longer stimulating, an individual might want to take on new challenges, or perhaps a toxic element has entered the picture. No matter what the source of the change is, it is paramount that an unhappy employee begins the process of evaluation, both of themselves and their surroundings, to identify what has changed. In my personal experience, and as Elaine will tell you, introspection provides an opportunity for unhappy individuals to come to terms with their changing reality; it has helped many, myself included, accept that it’s time to start a new journey. Change causes the turning point to come about, but introspection is the first step to using a negative situation as a launching pad towards greener pastures.

Elaine’s Take on Turning Points – Envision and Action

I believe that the path to overcoming the challenges a turning point presents begins by envisioning a better situation. As Carol noted, change is what brings about turning points. And the first response to this change is rarely positive…in fact fear likely moves in first causing many to shy away from taking action, fearing the repercussions of walking away from a job where they have experience and likely benefits, accumulating. However, postponing decisions takes the power away from an individual who is likely to become increasingly unhappy and disengaged and may very well find out that their employer will be the one who ultimately decides their fate.

Entering a new stage of personal and professional development may seem daunting, but it is made much easier when an individual commits to a period of planning and preparation, using the power of their imagination to visualize their desired future and then, undertaking concrete actions to turn their career dreams into reality. All change happens from a place of imagination – before anything changes for the better, there must be a concerted effort to create an image of the preferred alternative, one that will energize the often difficult actions required to transition to the next phase.

While any number of situations might lead to a turning point, the overwhelming experience of these moments is often one of disillusionment. At the point where one is pushed until they can’t take it anymore, a transformation occurs. Either the employee will subdue their internal voice and toil on, or, they will seek out better opportunities. Turning one’s mind away from a turbulent situation and focusing energy on what is desired is an effective way to begin the journey towards career satisfaction. Success here is often determined by outlook; a positive perspective and clear vision of the future can provide all the motivation needed to commit to taking the leap.