Dashed Expectations and Career Transitions: What to do when the rose-colored glasses come off

What do you do when your exciting new job turns out to be less wonderful than you thought?  Here are some ways to manage your transition and take control of your career once the rose-colored glasses come off.

Recently, a number of my clients have talked about the disappointment that they have experienced in their career transitions.

These were people who had done great work on figuring out who they were and what made them tick, and then they explored a number of options before settling on something that made a lot of sense in terms of their long-term goals, their values and their strengths.  And then came the reality of the day-to-day.

What happens when you show up at your exciting new job and the charming woman who interviewed you and is your new boss turns out to have no time to see you?  Or when you are promised a lot of responsibility and you find that you are doing work that does not stretch or challenge you?  Or you thought that camaraderie with your peers was a hallmark of culture of your new organization only to find that your colleagues were more interested in getting their work done and getting home than in cultivating relationships?

Not surprisingly, this can be very disappointing and lead to feelings of anger, betrayal and lethargy.  And with those feelings, many people procrastinate and avoid doing their work and then rush to complete it. Or, they may find themselves not doing their work at all. The worst part is that they start to feel that there is something wrong with them.  All of this makes a lot of sense.

Oscar Wilde is famously, if not cynically, quoted as saying,
“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the   other is getting it.”

My take on this is that when we get what we dream of, often our expectations are excessively high and the dream turns out to be less than ideal.  What can we do about this?

For starters, be realistic about any new undertaking.  There is likely to be a honeymoon period and then the rose-colored glasses will come off. Understand that this is a normal part of any transition.

See what is working and how well your new situation is in alignment with your values and your goals.  If not, what can you do to change the situation?

Think about how your new situation fits into your long-term goals?  What can you learn from this situation?
Evaluate your goals.  What is this situation teaching you about your long-term goals?  Maybe it is time to modify the goal based on your experience.

And don’t forget to excel no matter what so that you can maximize the learning from this experience and cultivate powerful relationships with people whom you may wan to stay in touch with.

The point is to see how you can stay in charge of your new situation by extracting the learning and figuring out what you need to succeed and thrive on your journey to authentic success.

© Astrid Baumgardner 2010