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  • Anna Weltner

What to read, watch, and listen to during your work transition

Career transitions are often the most exciting and the most frightening times of our lives. There's the kind we plan for (for example, the choice to go back to university) the kind we never could have seen coming (a global pandemic that would upend working life as we know it), and a range of complicated situations in between.

Happy man with suitcase walking down street

If you're facing a career change this year, you're certainly not alone. At the start of 2023, Americans workers were continuing a trend of quitting at high rates, mostly for new opportunities elsewhere, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. At the same time, large companies are continuing to layoff workers this year on an ongoing basis, as evidenced by this grim layoff tracker by Forbes. With so many people leaving (or losing) jobs, and still more considering a career change, the time is right to contemplate what it really means to be in transition--and how to stay true to ourselves while in flux.

Fortunately, while an interruption in our routine is a frightening thing, it's also a chance to invite in new practices and perspectives. With this in mind, we've collected some inspiring resources to read, watch, or listen to when contemplating or navigating a work transition.

Woman listing to headphones on the subway

If you love reading and want to take a deep dive:

Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes (book) by William Bridges. Published in 1980, Transitions was the first book to explore the universal underlying patterns inherent to transitions. Bridges made a career helping people and organizations navigate periods of change, and his "Transition Model" maps the three stages of a transition: the ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. Transitions provides a helpful framework for making sense of those moments when you've left the regular routine behind, but the new one isn't quite clear yet.

If you have three minutes just want a quick, friendly dose of perspective:

"Why You Still Have Time To Change Career" (video) from School of Life. This short animated film addresses the pain of changing career, and explains why changing our career ambitions is most painful when we're young...though this is arguably the best time to do so. It's a comforting and insightful watch.

If you want to hear real stories from people who are out there doing it:

The Squiggly Career (book and podcast!) by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis. A Sunday Times bestseller, The Squiggly Career shows readers how to leave the idea of the corporate "ladder" behind, embrace non-linear career paths, and perhaps most intriguingly, to "design" the job you're in to work better for you. The success of the book has led to a podcast, worksheets, and even a series of videos profiling squiggly career stories.

A stunning second act! Meet the people who changed course in midlife – and loved it (article) by Emine Saner. This is a wonderful portrait of a few individuals who bravely sought out new careers in their 50s. It can be done!

Transition Notes (blog) by Fabian Pfortmüller. One person's experiences and learnings during a transition, shared in a helpful and non-preachy way.

If you've blown up your old life and are open-minded about how to put it together your new one:

The Four-Hour Work Week (book) by Tim Ferriss. Published in 2007 as an antidote to the overworked, always-on Silicon Valley culture, Ferriss's book argues for working less in a way that almost feels prophetic today.

Designing Your Work Life (book) by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Burnett and Evans's bestseller Designing Your Life showed readers how to take the creative problem-solving skills designers use and apply them to anything in life. This follow up specifically addresses the world of work. See also: Designing Your New Work Life.

The Art of Self-Improvement: Ten Timeless Truths (book) by Anna Katharina Schaffner. Self-help is hardly a modern genre, as this book shows. Shaffner traces self-improvement practices through the ages and draws out ten core ideas.

Man in business attire reading a book

Have you read, listened to, or watched anything from this list lately? Any resources we've missed? Let us know in the comments.


Anna Weltner is a content writer and social media curator at MeaningSphere.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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