Emily Vernon

Journaling to Ease Job Transitions

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Changing jobs is challenging for everyone. Whatever the situation, your expectations and perceptions of work and life shift. Yes, the element of ‘change’ can range from moving countries to joining a past employer, but conflicting emotions always arise. Many times our first impressions and thoughts fall away over time. However, these can be your most valuable asset for personal development, as well as the development of others.

Two years ago I changed industries and job titles in one go. For whatever reason, I made clear and honest journaling a part of the transition. My intention was to understand years later how it felt to be in two worlds at once. Before tackling the subject, let’s review the weighted term, ‘journaling’. My definition is loose. It includes everything from writing everyday novelettes in a Moleskin to short blurbs on a notes app between train stops. As long as it is recording your experiences to read later, it’s journaling.

Every initial reaction we feel is very raw. Many times, these need to be reviewed, reframed and reviewed again before sharing with others. Journalling helps to recontextualise and reflect on an emotion before having important discussions with others. This is especially important during a job transition where you want to be both respectful to your current situation and attentive to your future employees. There is no reason to ‘burn bridges’ on purpose, or on accident because your reactions were too new to process.

In whatever length or form, journalling records current impressions for future insights. These can be just to understand more about your patterns and needs, as well as empathise with others. Whether you are fifty-five or twenty-five years old, mixed emotions emerge around work. These range from feeling valued and understood to frustrated and under appreciated. It’s 100% normal. However, everyone is at a different stage in their career development. By reading my journals of the more difficult transitions, I could understand what other colleagues were grappling with at that moment.

Everyone deals with transitions differently. Regardless of the amount of meditation, exercise and discussion we do to thwart the impact, some of our reactions are somewhat ingrained. This can be used as an advantage. By journaling and reflecting on our reactions, it’s easier to recognise typical reactions to influence future situations. For example, if you begin to feel a certain type of frustration at work, have the conversations needed to prevent further derailment. ‘Being professional’ is just as complex and intricate as your everyday identity.

All of us will make at least one career transitions during our lifetime. This also includes going from working full-time to taking care of a family full-time. After putting this transition in motion, the next one to three months can be complex, confusing and frustrating. At times, I’m sure we all wished it never began. But I always found it was worth those few months of added effort and discomfort. This again can be helpful for our next time around, as well as walk others through there own next career step.

In today’s Instagram age, we can get misled by the happy, aspirational images streaming down our screens. It seems like everyone has their life figured out and feels fulfilled at every moment -except for us. This is not the case. Though changing jobs had its challenges, it made me a more resilient and calm person in the end. I had to ask the hard questions and make those hard decisions. Career development is never a linear journey, which is why a journal can remind you where you’ve been and how to move forward.