By Renee Brincks
Sarah Devereaux spent 14 years moving through training, program development and executive roles at Google. Today, she leads marketing and customer success for Murmur, a platform that helps teams co-create policies, processes and work agreements that clarify their ways of working. She also offers leadership coaching and advisory services as the founder of Third Coast Coaching.
Devereaux's ontological coaching practice explores how an individual's language, emotions and even physical movements shape their perspectives. This holistic approach helps clients reframe challenges and create lasting change.
Change has become a constant, after more than a year of pandemic-related closures, career shifts and other unexpected events. Whether you're navigating a layoff or returning to the office after working remotely, Devereaux says these five steps can help you embrace transition and grow.
1. Practice self-compassion.
"First, acknowledge that your situation might be really awful. Allow yourself the time to hold those feelings, objectively. Then, set them aside. Don't bury your feelings — just set them aside and look at the situation. Remind yourself that it's going to be ok. This isn't who you are. You're not a failure. You're not alone. The sun will rise, and you will move forward."
2. Pause and consider.
"When something unexpected happens, many people panic instead of pausing. They try to fill that gap right away, as if speed is what matters. Actually, what matters is patience. Pause and consider what you really want to do next, so that you're not just jumping into a situation that is similar to the one you came from. It can be easy to take a role that feels comfortable, but that might not be what you want or what's actually good for you."
3. Prioritize ruthlessly.
"It's important to understand your non-negotiables. Make a list of priorities and stack rank them. Really think through what tradeoffs you're willing to make, when push comes to shove. With any change, any transition, there will always be a set of hard decisions. What are you willing to let go of in order to meet your priorities and stay true to your values?"
4. Plan flexibly.
"When people create a career plan, they often want checklists and spreadsheets and strategies. But I always coach folks to think about their North Star. What's that general thing that you care about and are moving toward?
"Try not to get too bogged down in the individual steps. Avoid thinking, ‘Okay, within the next year, I'm going to do these three things. Within the next five years, I will do these other three things. Then, in 10 years, I will have reached this specific goal.' If you can, stay more nebulous. Avoid getting too attached to any particular step. Keep an open mindset, because there may be possibilities that you just never saw coming."
5. Be patient.
"When people experience career changes, they often want to do everything at once. They feel like it's got to be all or nothing. To create lasting, sustainable change — to truly transform your life and your career — it takes time. Be patient with the process and be patient with yourself. If you can't answer all the career questions that are in front of you right away, or even within the first three or six months, it's okay.
"Take a hard look at your life and what's important. If you can afford it, take some time. And if you can't, take a bridge job that will pay the bills but will also allow you to reflect and learn. Learning will lead to something bigger.
"It can be helpful when people ask themselves, ‘Did I really not see this coming? Did I want to keep working here? Is this role really what I wanted?' Be honest with yourself. Try to set that ego, the hurt, the anger, the frustration, aside. Getting fired from a job begins a grieving process. But also, explore the moment for what it really is. For some people, it's absolutely awful. I don't want to downplay that. But it might also be the best thing that ever happens to you."