Ask A Coach: How Can My Career Transition Increase My Professional Success and Personal Happiness?

Pat Henahan '90
Meet Pat on IrishCompass

Career transitions are inherently stressful. Whether you find yourself out of work or realize you are in the wrong job and need to make a change, it’s common to feel unmoored. Financial security, identity, and relationships are all challenged. Many people reflexively jump into action, quickly updating their resumes and applying for jobs – often jobs that look a lot like what they have been doing recently.

For some people, charging right out in the job market may be the perfect decision. For others, the transition may be a time to fundamentally reassess what they want to be doing with their lives. This prospect is both scary and exhilarating.

I always suggest that people in transition consider the possibility of doing work that taps into more of their strengths, that aligns more closely with their values, that facilitates their growth, or that changes their work-life balance. When viewed through this lens, transition represents a tremendous opportunity to recalibrate, and potentially transform life.   

Of course, figuring out what that positive change might be can be difficult. Doubts are common and sensible: Will the grass really be greener “over there?” 

I recommend the books Designing Your Life by Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (Video Overview) and Springboard by Wharton professor G. Richard Shell (Video Overview) as resources that can help people think through what might be next. Intense reflection, exploratory discussions, and experimentation are ways to clarify a future vision. Partnering with a coach may be helpful, so consider tapping into the Notre Dame alumni coaching team.

Dream big and live well!


Pat Henahan ‘90 is an executive coach and also coaches in Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Career Coaching Program

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