Careers

When life happens

Navigating careers during turbulent transitions

Life challenges can have a massive effect on productivity, maintaining workflow and furthering one’s career. This is true whether they’re positive changes, such as starting a family, or negative changes, like a sudden illness or loss. 

A lot of the time, people enjoy their careers and don’t want to sacrifice them when life becomes demanding. That’s why learning how to make it through these events by persevering can be helpful and inspiring. 

Maureen Doody, a painter from Ottawa, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017—right in the middle of her thriving career. It completely caught her off guard and changed her life. 

“I had so many emotions, thoughts and unknowns. It was hard to process and verbally communicate the varying complexities of my emotions,” she says. 

Initially, her artistic career was at a standstill but it was too important to let it slip away. 

Doody was able to hold onto her career by temporarily switching to writing and poetry. This was the most productive way she could channel her feelings during the initial stages of her illness. 

“I started writing. With fear, with pain, with doubt, with hands shaking, with my voice on the page, trembling,” she says. “Writing has helped me move through, shape and claim my journey to a place of healing, comfort and growth. Towards a more peaceful acceptance.”

Doody’s ability to embrace her emotions ignited her career and she even received more attention in her field. 

“Recently, my poem depicting my cancer journey was featured in WILDFIRE magazine,” she says. 

Sometimes, life transitions are welcome. This is currently the case for Xylia Fraser. 

Fraser is going through the long process of adopting a pair of siblings with her partner. She also works graveyard shifts as a transition house counselor in Wolfville, N.S.

Fraser was promoted to a full-time position at work and hopes to continue flourishing in her career while becoming a parent. Her strategy for balancing this change is refusing to let herself become too stressed and instead let events unfold as naturally as possible. 

“The single most important thing is to become aware of your personal warning signs that you’re becoming overwhelmed,” she says.

Fraser has a list of techniques she relies on to help her avoid feeling swamped with everything going on in her life. 

“When I recognize that I’m beginning to get overwhelmed, I ramp up my self-care routine by doing guided meditation multiple times a day. The Headspace and Balance apps are amazing,” she says. “I also seek support in whatever way is accessible, whether it be family, friends or a professional. And simply doing things that I enjoy.” 

Doody also mentions the importance of relaxation while going through her cancer recovery process. For her, the outdoors keeps her feeling grounded. 

“Being outside immersed in nature distracts me from the stressors and challenges of daily life and so that I don’t get bogged down with negative thoughts,” she says. 

Fraser also reinforces the importance of having a professional to talk to about life transitions. 

“A more recent mindset change I’ve experienced is looking at therapy as a place where I can gain more tools for my toolkit,” she says. 

Going through career disruptions can also include recognizing unsupportive work environments. Sometimes, employers aren’t helpful when their employees go through trying times. 

For Alberta-based sales auditor Cheryl Hobbs, this was something she came to realize when going through a divorce.

“I was working for a company that wasn’t very understanding when it came to life issues affecting your productivity,” she says. “There was no compassion for any matters outside of your expected productivity during the workday.” 

Handling an unsympathetic company didn’t prevent Hobbs from progressing in her career and she was able to manage the situation before successfully changing companies. 

“I prioritized the things in my life,” she says. “I made schedule changes to my daily routine and I stayed focused on the matters that needed my full attention all while not missing work or passing duties on to coworkers or losing pay.”

Acknowledging inner power can also help put life into perspective and help people navigate challenging transitions. 

“It’s not about denying the tough days, the painful moments or the challenges,” Doody says. “It’s about your strength, passion and commitment towards empowered living.”

About the author

Brittany is a reporter for Youth Mind. When she isn’t working hard to become a full-time writer, she can be found making a dinner reservation, rewatching her favourite movies, or reading about True Crime.

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