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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FAQs

The Great Resignation in Academia refers to the current trend of many high education faculty members leaving their positions in higher education institutions. Various factors, including the mental health crisis and toxic work environments, largely influence this phenomenon.
Teacher education in higher education is being affected by the Great Resignation as many experienced educators are leaving their positions, resulting in a loss of valuable knowledge and expertise. This can hinder the quality of teacher education programs and impact the overall development of aspiring educators.
Yes, mid-career researchers are particularly susceptible to the effects of the Great Resignation. They often face challenges in career development and advancement, and the added pressures of the current circumstances may push them closer to their breaking point.
Institutional support plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of the Great Resignation. By offering career development opportunities, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a positive and inclusive work environment, higher education institutions can enhance faculty members’ well-being and reduce the likelihood of resignation.
Addressing the mental health crisis and high-stress levels is vital to combat the Great Resignation. Institutions can promote well-being by providing access to mental health resources, offering support for physical well-being, implementing stress reduction programs, and cultivating a culture that values self-care and work-life balance.
The Great Resignation can impact peer-review article submissions in academia. With fewer faculty members available to serve as reviewers, the review process might experience delays, potentially affecting the timely dissemination of research findings and slowing academic progress.
Yes, private Facebook groups and online communities can provide valuable support and a sense of camaraderie for individuals experiencing the challenges of the Great Resignation. Such groups can facilitate networking, knowledge-sharing, and emotional support, allowing members to navigate their career transitions more effectively.
The Great Resignation can affect career advancement opportunities in academia. With many higher education faculty members leaving, limited positions might be available for promotion or tenure. This can potentially create a bottleneck in the career progression of early-career academics.
Higher education institutions can proactively address toxic work environments and minimize the likelihood of the Great Resignation. This includes implementing policies against harassment and discrimination, promoting respectful and inclusive communication, and providing resources for conflict resolution and mediation.
While work-life balance is one of the contributing factors to the Great Resignation, it is not the sole cause. The phenomenon is influenced by multiple factors, such as excessive stress, lack of institutional support, toxic work environments, and the mental health crisis, which collectively contribute to individuals reaching their breaking point and deciding to resign.
Joining a private Facebook group can benefit individuals experiencing excessive stress during the Great Resignation. These groups provide a platform for individuals to connect with others facing similar challenges, share coping strategies, and seek emotional support. Engaging with a supportive community can help alleviate stress and provide a sense of solidarity during this difficult time.

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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.