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How to Deal with Career Identity Crisis

Rohini Mohan
A career identity crisis can hit anyone, and is as unbiased with recent college graduates as it is with professionals who have been employed in stable jobs for several decades. Find out how to deal with this crisis and make a new start.
Everything that is dear to us becomes a part of our identity and makes us who we are. A job is no different and is essentially one of our driving forces and means of existence. After all, why would anyone wish to work day in, and day out, unless it was for the sake of making a good living and feeling a sense of empowerment. That being said, not all of us like our jobs and some simply can't stand it.
While we complain and crib about our bosses and managers, we rarely ever do anything drastic such as quit our jobs or change our field of work altogether.
In spite of spending several years learning the tricks and trade of the job, there comes a time when we cannot help but feel overwhelmed or dissatisfied with the state of our career. In this story, find out how to deal with career identity crisis and turn your setbacks into reasons for a career jump start.

Career Crisis Triggers

  • Unsure of which career path to choose.
  • Getting fired from a secure job.
  • Feeling burned-out and frustrated.
  • Corporate downsizing and its collateral effects.
  • Disliking the job and wanting to make a career change.
  • Choosing the wrong career.

Ways to Cope with Career Identity Crisis

Do Not Job-hop

☛ If you're unsure of which career path to tread or which job is appropriate for you, do not switch jobs at random.
Never job-hop unless you're absolutely sure that, it is the right decision to take and has long-term career and financial benefits to offer.
☛ Do not get swept off with the tide of what people think is the right way to go, unless you too believe so. Every job has some advantages and things to offer and teach, so you might as well stick around and learn, until you find your own footing and figure out the job you really would like to take up.
☛ The biggest reason why you must not job-hop often is that, it shows how fickle you can be about your career and how uncertain and confused you have been about your future goals.
☛ Employers do not want to hire a candidate who may leave in the next few months or are likely to waste the company's resources, time, and efforts, that was put into training a new employee.

Give Yourself Time to Think and Cope

☛ Incidences, such as losing a secure job is bound to come as a major shock not only for the employee who is fired but also for his/her family members.
☛ It can become downright insulting to go through such a traumatizing experience. Especially, if they were good at their job and were asked to leave because the market is down and the company is downsizing or suffering from some financial constraints. It always leaves them thinking, why were they let go and not the other employees?
☛ On the other hand, the draining feeling of being burned-out and overburdened with work, can force the best employees to call it quits. For many, spending each and everyday doing the same job and disliking every minute of it, can drive them to consider other career options. Nonetheless, the feeling of despair becomes a constant companion and can make life hellish.
☛ The ideal thing to do in such cases is to give yourself some time to think, evaluate your options, recover from the setback, and try your best to view the situation pragmatically even if you feel as if your whole world has come crashing down.

Talk About Your Troubles

☛ For many, having a job is a luxury and one that keeps their lives in place. For such individuals, not being employed or being unhappy in a job can have devastating repercussions and lead to depression and uncertainty.
☛ If possible try to speak about your worries with your friends and family. Seek counseling to help yourself cope with your anxiety and confusion. Speak with like-minded people who may have invaluable suggestions to offer and ways to redeem faith in yourself.
☛ If you are contemplating leaving your job or have been asked to leave, try to interact with others who are currently in a similar situation. Get to know their opinion and the measures they are taking to cope with their career identity crisis. If they are handling the situation in a negative manner, learn from their mistakes and refrain from doing the same things.

Assess Yourself

☛ The foremost thing to do is to analyze yourself and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of your positive and negative traits that may either make or break your career.
☛ If you are unsure of which career to choose or feel as if you will not be able to fit into a particular field, take some time off and ideate. Weight your interests and see if you can make any one of your talents or passions into a full-fledged career. If you lack certain skills, see if you can acquire them through additional courses or firsthand work experience.
☛ Analyze your performance and evaluate whether your work so far has been noteworthy or lacking in certain key areas. You must decide whether you wish to keep your present job or shift to a new one, which seems promising and offers you the scope of growth which you seek.
☛ Those who are currently unemployed must make a list of jobs that they would really be interested in doing and have the required skills to go ahead and apply for jobs. This is also a favorable opportunity for those who have been wanting to be self-employed and be their own boss.

Assess the Job Market

☛ While you may really wish to change your present company and shift to a new and dynamic alternative, you must always study the market before you make any hasty decisions.
☛ Calculate your risks wisely and gauge whether there are suitable job opportunities available or not. Having a job in hand is better than none, especially if you are unsure about whether you'll be hired someplace else.
☛ Those who have recently left or lost their jobs must try not to settle for less paying and unsatisfactory jobs. Taking such jobs is only going to make you feel worse, and not only lengthen the cycle of uncertainties at the job front but also adversely affect your self-esteem.

What are Your Expectations?

☛ Once you have assessed yourself and the market, you must make a checklist of all the things you seek from your current or next job. If there are certain changes you wish to incorporate in your pattern of work and the office, start slow and in a step-by-step manner.
☛ Introduce small changes and take active part in the activities of the office. Let your colleagues know that your opinion counts, and that you are a contributor and not a mere spectator. Those who seek to change jobs must make a note of their expectations and the things they need from the new job.
☛ For example, push for achieving goals such as, if you wish to manage a team or work in a smaller company where you will be noticed and given more responsibility.
☛ Individuals who wish to become entrepreneurs, must evaluate whether they have the right amount of capital to kick-start their new venture and if not, can they manage to gather the needed financial support.

☛ They must also try to expand their business circle and spread their network in order to pool in prospective sponsors and clients.
The ideal way to deal with a career crisis is to keep a positive attitude and work towards achieving the plans you have set for yourself. Maintaining a journal that lets you offload many of your fears and worries can help you gather your thoughts and think more clearly. Remember, the only one who can truly help you is yourself.