As I write, it’s a beautiful, balmy late Autumn day. It was on just such a day that I moved on to new things. I could not have imagined then how different life would be by now. And I did things the hard way, taking far too long to recover my balance. When it’s time for you to move on, what will you do to make the transition easier?
Moving on is much less of a personal burden if you have positive support. Find someone to be your champion and keep you going – someone who can really help you to put your ideas into action and be alongside you as you move on. I suggest that even if you have supportive friends and family, you find someone who can remain detached, staying with you without getting emotionally hooked. If you already have a coach or mentor, that is ideal, but it can be anyone who will challenge and support you.
My client Karen comments: “Ann was the most help as she had no agenda, we hadn’t even met, so I knew she was ‘content free’. She would challenge me to look at the situation and rise to it and deal with it with all my strengths. She was kind and empathetic but didn’t let that stop her from asking me to work hard, but in a constructive way to deal with the challenges as they arose. She also helped me to stand back from the situation and discover for myself what was going on.”
Lou contributed her story to Recover Your Balance. She remembers: “My husband was very good. He pretended to be my boss, so I talked it all through, play-acted and did role-play with him – what were the main points I wanted to get across? And because you’re so emotional at that time, it just goes off at tangents, and my husband was brilliant at bringing me back and saying, ‘well what point are you trying to make here? Don’t keep going off at tangents.’ And then he made me write that down.”
Use your networks
Sometimes in the thick of things, you may not make best use of your networks. Take some time to consider who might help that you haven’t already contacted.
If you are tempted to think you have to get out of your situation alone, please think again. People love to help, and very few will see it as a waste of time. These days I often hear from friends and colleagues who’d like me to talk to someone they know about career choices or sources of information. I’m always happy to talk, whether to people I know or to complete strangers. If you expect people to want to help, the chances are that they will.
Asked who else might have helped her, Recover Your Balance contributor Laura says: “Knowing what I now know I think I ought to have seen it coming and protected myself more by being much more proactive in regional networks. Possibly some independent PR support could have helped.”
So use your networks. Arrange to meet people who can offer you advice and support, share their experience with you or give you some feedback on your plans.
- Who can help you as you recover your balance?
- When will you speak to them?
- What do you want to tell them? To ask them?
What Do You Want To Take With You?
Sometimes doing something different as an interim step really helps your self-esteem and can give you new tools.
Laura took time off to recover and added to her academic qualifications. She says: “I took three months off immediately after I left and then enrolled for an MSc in Organisational Behaviour whilst taking on a four-day week consultancy job, before becoming self-employed. Doing something academic was a useful focus for me and doing well at it helped my self-esteem. I also decided to do voluntary work and made a conscious decision not to put all my energy into only one thing. I joined a women’s learning network, took up running and used some of my payment to fit a fab new bathroom into our home with a jacuzzi bath!”
I found an interim job, and like Laura, signed up for a new management qualification, which I completed over a two-year period. A few months before finishing it I joined my first London employer and was able to make them the subject of my final dissertation.
Lou developed new skills while she was still in post. She says: “I started building up the skills while I was handing over, during my notice, to prepare myself to leave, and I always advise people not to leave at a low ebb.”
- What new skills or learning would be helpful to you?
- If you are changing direction, what do you need that you do not yet have?
- What will you do to research your options?
What else do you need?
It may be that you stay with your current employer. If not, you will probably be applying for new jobs. Have a good look at your CV/resumé and make sure that it really represents the best of you. Remember to bring out your strengths, to cover your achievements and to present yourself authentically.
I’ve seen hundreds of CVs in my life, and if you have been responsible for recruiting staff, you will have too. Give some thought to what works in a resumé and what really irritates you. I personally hate the ones that are written in the third person and use a whole string of superlatives in a covering paragraph, but which give me no tangible information from which to judge the subject.
Don’t forget that whoever reads your CV may have several hundreds to wade through, and only an hour in which to do it (no, I’m not exaggerating). Be concise, and keep your CV to two sides. It is possible to convey a lot of relevant information in that space, even if you have years of experience. One of my favourite sources of advice on writing CVs is Steve Holmes, whose CV Masterclass website includes a range of comprehensive ‘how to’ guides at a very reasonable price.
Find a way to describe your experience
Another essential part of your preparation to move on is becoming clear about what you want to say about this episode in your life. I remember going as a candidate to a recruitment agency and feeling really ashamed of having been bullied. Now, I would be clearer, and would also take time to assess my strengths and potential contribution to a new job, rather than believing that no-one would want to employ me. Do this piece of thinking in Second State (see E is for Energy).
Another contributor to Recover Your Balance, Sarah puts it this way: “I would express my convictions more clearly to other stakeholders (team, non executive directors, etc.) even if they – or others – accused me of being wrong: I would be less concerned with being 100 percent rationally right and more concerned with being morally comfortable. I would know that ‘right’ means right for me.”
- Do you need to update your CV/resumé?
- How will you talk about moving on?
- What will you say to yourself as you go forward?
- Having someone to support you is really helpful. If you have a coach or mentor, that’s great. Otherwise choose someone neutral who can cheer you on. Think about who else can help you recover your balance.
- Plan to gain any new skills you may need.
- Make sure your CV is up to date. Get advice on preparing it professionally.
- Rehearse how you want to present your moving on to other people, and what you want to say to yourself.