So we’ve been hearing a lot recently about how folks are bailing out on careers and jobs all over the place as the pandemic trudges on. The reasons for this seem varied, with some simply accelerating plans for retirement they had in place before all this started to being worried about returning to an in-person workplace to developing an affinity for working remotely and having more flexibility in how their time and days are structured. The psychological impact of quarantine, shelter-in-place, and other restrictions on activity and interaction differs from person to person, but common to all of us is a significant disruption to the often comfortable rhythm of our daily lives.

How has all this affected you? Have there been ups and downs?

This has certainly been true for me, and conversations (remote of course) with clients, colleagues, and friends suggest that I am not alone. Among other things, having time to sit in a home office, do all your meetings and teaching from there, spend countless hours in meetings with students, research collaborators, colleagues, and administrators on Zoom or Teams has forced many folks to examine their academic careers- what drives them now compared to when they started or even pre-pandemic? How does one stay motivated to do their absolute, all the time, when the human interactions that are so gratifying in academia are reduced to faces in boxes on a computer?

The hope of finding a new normal” seems more and more distant as wave after wave of infection, worry, instability, and weariness washes over us in our personal and professional lives. Turning uncertainty into opportunity is a learned ability, and more and more folks are getting good at it. Are you thinking of making a big change? If so, here are some things to consider:

1. What is motivating you to make a big change?

  • Do you have a vision for something better?
  • Are you trying to escape a bad situation?
  • Are you simply bored and thinking that jumping ship will reinvigorate you?
  • What else?

None of these is any “better” or “worse” than the other- they are just different and require varied approaches as you create and execute your plan.

2. What constraints do you have to consider?

  • Are you location-bound?
  • Do you have family or other caregiving obligations?
  • Do you have financial needs that must be met?

It’s important to be realistic about what changes make practical sense for your life. Assessing your parameters for change and building a plan that is consistent with them is critical.

3. What “collateral damage” might you incur by making a big change right now?

  • Are you in the middle of a project, class, or appointment at your current job? Would walking away from your position right now create work for others or leave others in a difficult position? Burning bridges is never a good idea if you can avoid it.
  • Will you damage personal or professional connections or relationships that are important to you?

Taking a long-range view of the unintended consequences of making a change can insulate you against having regrets about the execution of your transition.

4. What are your critical needs in making this change?

  • What do you LOVE to spend your time doing?
  • What gives you energy and makes you excited about your day?
  • What do you want to do more of? Less of? None of?

Don’t compromise these things as you plot your course!

Be true to the experiences you’ve had, what you know about yourself, and what satisfies you personally and professionally. Simple, right? Well, actually it can be. In the upcoming series of posts we’ll walk through each of these issues and talk about how to wrap your head around them all to lead you to your new path. Then, of course, comes the execution of the plan, but let’s start with forming it first. 😊

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Dr. Mary

Dr. Mary Coussons-Read, a Ph.D. in Psychology and an accomplished Professor and Higher Education Leader, brings extensive experience to her role as a Certified Professional Personal and Career Coach. With over 30 years of leadership and organizational development consulting in academic and corporate settings, Dr. Mary is well-equipped to guide higher education professionals toward envisioning and achieving positive change.

In addition to her academic background, Dr. Mary has a personal understanding of weight management challenges. Her transformative journey has inspired her to support successful individuals struggling with obesity. Through her expertise and compassionate approach, she helps them explore long-term options, including bariatric surgery or alternative strategies for lifelong weight management.

With her unique combination of academic knowledge, coaching skills, and personal experience, Dr. Mary is committed to assisting individuals in realizing their goals and making significant transformations in their lives.