This morning I packed the last of 9500 (ish) brown bag lunches and the next transition in my life began. My youngest (of three) finishes high school this week, and with that final turkey sandwich, I finished 36 ‘school years’ of lunches, hung up that apron, and I’m ready to move on.
Two years ago, after dropping my middle son at college, I wrote a blog called Approaching the Empty Next: Are you a ‘Woo Hoo’ or a ‘Boo Hoo’? in which I asked parents which of those two categories they fell into. Fast forward and now it’s my turn to face this life transition as Taber prepares to leave for college and our home becomes an empty nest. I now need to decide which ‘Hoo’ I will be.
Milestones are often marked by transitions, some by choice (school, marriage, children, career change, relocation) and some not (illness, death, divorce, job loss). Some are cause for celebration, others call for tears and support. Some transitions are eagerly anticipated, while others can leave us feeling scared and adrift. This weekend, as my eldest, also (!) graduates, from college, and starts a new life outside ‘the known’ confines of academia, I am aware of the loved ones in my life experiencing complex transitions too. One friend is contemplating a divorce and weighing the heavy consequences thereof, another is looking for a more lucrative job to help ensure current and future financial stability for her family. Two are navigating the transition of special needs children to adulthood and increased independence. And many of us are transitioning to become caretakers of our aging parents. These transitions ARE our lives, but how do we best face these crossroads?
Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want. – Kristin Armstrong
In my work at ReBoot Accel, I see women approach the transition of reentering the workforce in a variety of ways. Some approach it first with fear and trepidation, and the negative self-talk often translates to low confidence. Any of these sound familiar?
- ‘Why would anyone hire me?’
- ‘I have no idea what I want to do?’
- ‘My skills are not up to date?’
While others approach it awash with possibility and potential and their excitement radiates.
- ‘I have so much to offer.’
- ‘I can’t wait to get back to work!’
- ‘All this new technology I get to learn is so cool.’
The good news is we’ve witnessed how quickly the former group can morph into the latter via adopting a growth mindset and supportive community. We witness the change of self-perception and overall attitude over a weeklong career accelerator course, time and time again. It’s exciting to see someone blossom before your eyes in a matter of days. This revised mindset is so powerful and can be the key to a successful transition. It doesn’t mean the transition is easy or quick or painless….it’s a journey….but approaching it from a place of ‘Woo Hoo!’ can help make it an energizing and positive one.
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. – Epictetus
How we react to events, including transitions, is a sign of our character. How we approach a transition can be the difference of it being a success or not. There has been much discussion recently on how the brain rewires itself to make the thoughts you tell it becomes your reality. For instance, if you tell yourself ahead of time that going back to work after a career pause is going to be hard, lonely and difficult you are more likely to experience those effects. Likewise, if you choose to anticipate this new period in your life as one of positive change, renewal, and exciting growth, then guess what? You are setting yourself up for a more successful transition. This doesn’t mean that positive thinking is the cure-all solution to difficult situations, but it does indicate that the mindset in which we approach things can impact the outcome or our feelings of satisfaction and happiness with that outcome.
Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent. – Priyanka Chopra
As I prepare to transition to my new stage in life and watch my kids transition to theirs, I feel excited. Yes, I’ll shed tears at the final college drop off. Yes, I’ll be sad to have a quiet house. Yes, my husband and I will chart new territory as a couple in our 50’s with no kids at home. I acknowledge all the things that could make me sad and scared about this change. I see and acknowledge the ‘boo hoo’ but I’m choosing to focus on the ‘woo hoo’. I’m planning new professional and personal goals for this next phase, and am energized by that. I’m making a conscious decision to create my new reality and create a place of happiness and fulfillment. Likewise, I’m excited to see my kids enter the next phases of their lives, experiencing and managing their own transitions as they enter adulthood. There will be both joy and hardships for all of us along the way – that’s part of life and part of a transition. And when the hard stuff happens I’ll be there with an open mindset, a shoulder to lean on and a bag lunch as needed, and hope that they’ll do the same for me.
Want more from Chrissie? Here are her other terrific treatises on transition, networking, and community:
- Approaching the Empty Next: Are you a ‘Woo Hoo’ or a ‘Boo Hoo’?
- “So…WHAT DO YOU DO?” Are YOU Ready for Your Next Networking Opportunity?
- The Comforting and Catalyzing Power of Connection
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