Emotional Effects of Transitioning Out of a Job

Leaving a job can cause strong emotions.
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Leaving a job, for any reason, can become an emotional roller-coaster even in the best of circumstances. Between the excitement of transitioning to a new role and the guilt of leaving your co-workers behind with a bunch of extra tasks, it’s not surprising that this can be a period of mixed emotions. Career transitions happen multiple times in the lives of working adults, due to changes in the economy, switches in career interests, taking maternity or health-related leaves, moving to a new location and retirement. The common emotional effects of transitioning out of a job and how to cope need to be dealt with in a healthy way.

Disillusionment About the Company

    When you’ve reached the end of your rope in your current position or are facing a layoff, you may be feeling a great sense of disillusionment about the company as a whole. This is understandable, since you worked hard in your assignment and now are leaving. The last few weeks or days on the job can seem like an eternity, but you can make them better by focusing on your work and the great co-workers you know.

    Feelings often disconnect during career transition.

Excitement About a Promotion

    With a job promotion, you could be looking forward to a new career opportunity that comes with an impressive raise in pay. Naturally, you are jubilant about the possibilities and the new experiences you will have. But you still have to finish up your last few weeks on the old job. Use this time to gather referral letters and spend time celebrating your achievement with a few work friends.

    A job promotion can make you excited.

Loss of What Could Have Been

    When transitioning out of a job, feelings of loss can become overwhelming. Wondering what you may have been able to accomplish or if you would have climbed the corporate ladder can plague you. These feelings can be detrimental to your health if left unchecked, especially in the weeks and months following job loss. The National Institutes of Health published a 2009 article that indicates through multiple studies that a loss of job can have significant negative effects on health and well-being. If you are struggling with physical or mental issues as a result of losing a job, seek professional help right away.

    Get help if you feel depressed about losing your job.

Anger at Your Boss

    If your job transition is due to problems with your manager or the executive team, then you may be feeling quite angry about the situation. Imagining all the ways you’d like to tell your boss off is not going to make you feel any better; in fact, it will just fuel your anger and frustration. An article in "Fast Company" advises, “The impression you leave behind is often lasting, and your employer holds the key to your career -- a reference.” Keep this in mind and don’t burn any bridges when transitioning out of your current job.

    Giving the boss a piece of your mind is a bad idea.

Guilt over Unfinished Projects

    If you are leaving a job, you could be feeling tremendous guilt over not being able to complete the projects you started. This is especially true if you have strong work ethics and take responsibility for the work you are assigned. If you have projects that are high priority, work with your boss to hand them off to a capable co-worker or find out if you can work as a temporary contractor on retainer to oversee the work to the end.

    Leave the guilt behind in a job transition.

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