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5 emotions you’ll experience when you change jobs

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Switching jobs is no easy feat, and is almost always a bag of mixed emotions. Whether you’re leaving a job you love or have grown to despise, the transition is bound to cause much inner conflict – provoking questions on what comes next, how to support yourself between jobs, and whether your decision was the right one in the first place.

These emotional challenges are normal, and typically fade in time. Though setting on a new career path can be initially uncomfortable, it’s often worth the eventual joy of the next job opportunity.

Below, we break down the five most common emotions felt during a job change, and how to navigate each stage appropriately. 

The 5 common emotions felt during a job change

  1. Sadness and Guilt.
  2. Uncertainty.
  3. Excitement.
  4. Relief.
  5. Motivation/Reinvention. 

1. Sadness and Guilt 

This first stage is commonly guilt or regret. If you’re leaving a job voluntarily, it’s normal to feel like you’re “betraying” your peers – leaving them in the lurch as you move on to newer, and possibly better, opportunities. This is especially so when leaving a workplace of close friendships, regardless of whether your actual role was satisfactory or not. 

Of course, this ties into feelings of sadness, prompting sentimental memories that make leaving all the more difficult.

As common as these emotions are, it’s important to place your career decisions and goals at the forefront. When it comes to professional development, sometimes selfishness is necessary; or you’ll otherwise find yourself stuck in the same place (or pursuing an undesired path) for the sake of others. 

Other times, anger can also be a prominent emotion, typically when faced with redundancy or getting fired by your employer. While it’s normal to feel this way, avoid letting nasty, bitter thoughts overcome you – instead, try and use this as motivational fuel to pursue bigger and better things ahead. 

2. Uncertainty. 

african american man looking uncertain

The next phase is often uncertainty, or fear of what comes next. 

While a common reaction to change, indulging in these emotions will only set you back. It can help to keep focused on your goals and reasons for changing jobs in the first place – as well as map out your next potential steps, if you haven’t yet. 

During this stage, feelings of self-doubt are also likely to arise, especially among those whose personal identity and job are closely tied. This often requires an adjustment period where individuals recalibrate their sense of self, and is typically helped by learning new skills; talking to others and gaining new insights; and even taking a break to discover new passions. 

This is a time for inspiration and a chance to rebuild your sense of “purpose”; so take the opportunity to explore your options and bring forth positive change. 

3. Excitement.

As the anxiety (often inevitably) passes, you’ll soon find yourself excited with this new chapter in life. At this stage, you’ve likely formed yourself a feasible action plan – and are ready to push forward.

Use your newfound vigour to network and build connections in your chosen industry. Though face-to-face meetings may be less of an option during the pandemic, social media platforms (i.e. LinkedIn) are still ideal channels for communicating and connecting with potential employers.  

Those pursuing further training should also take the time to foster new friendships, as they not only make your course experience more enjoyable – but your peers are also an ideal source for new ideas, field insights, and if you’re lucky, new career opportunities. 

Keep in mind that this stage may take its time, and depending on one’s goals, some arrive at it differently from others. It’s the “rainbow after the rain”; the silver lining amidst the fears and sadness of leaving your job. However, as stated by Richard Moy in his article for The Muse, “you probably had your reasons for stepping aside, and at some point, you’ll get energised by them.”

4. Relief.

woman sitting relieved on the couch

As you re-ignite your passions, the next big opportunity is just a matter of time. 

Feelings of relief, calmness, and consideration typically take place as you find yourself scoring new interviews, meeting new people, and on the right track towards your goals. You’ll feel back in control, full of direction, and most of all – confident in your decision towards change.

In this phase, the initial guilt (or resentment) you’ve felt is, instead, often replaced with feelings of thankfulness and appreciation. You may find yourself reflecting on the past friendships and opportunities of your previous role – and how they’ve built you the skills, experience, and knowledge to achieve your goals today. 

5. Motivation/Reinvention.

As you (finally) settle into your next job, you’ll find your drive and motivation anew.

Often the last stage of an emotional job transition, you’ll find your goals and sense of “purpose” given a much-needed reset as you navigate your newfound opportunity. Take this time to make the most of what your new path has in store, and work towards letting go of old habits and patterns that no longer fit in your current role. Though typically the most rewarding phase, this challenge can often make it difficult, as reinventing behaviours or personal traditions often are.

However, with enough adjustment, practice and discipline – you’ll overcome this obstacle in time. Upon adapting to your new job, you’ll then find it easier to pursue (and achieve) the new professional goals you’ve set for yourself. 

Build the skills you need for a smooth career transition!

Changing jobs can be a challenge – but with the right skills and experience, you’re sure to find new opportunities quick.

Upskilled currently offers a wide range of courses across Australia’s most in-demand industries; from careers in community services to those in the ever-expanding field of information technology. All programs are delivered online, helping you train flexibly as you go about your job hunt.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.