Field guide on thriving in the future of work — Step 1, survive transitions

How I survived a 2 years transition and learnt about navigating it better

Like Brene Brown rightly says in “the gift of imperfections”: “What happens at midlife isn’t a crisis it’s unraveling. A time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not that you’re supposed to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are”

Future of work and transitions

Transition is the new topic amongst my friends and acquaintances in their 30s. Done with the 40s midlife crisis! Already in their 30s, people are browned-out, burned-out or bored out. People are moving more than ever, they want work-life balance and nomadic jobs, they want happiness and purpose. As a result, they decide to get on a quest to a fulfilled life…but transitions are as exciting as they are long, frankly daunting and can make you feel seriously lonely.

The working world is completely changing. The trends I’ve seen on the topic highlight a few things:

- Our lifelong one-and-only-work paths are over (with the early retirement dreams…yay!)

- Our careers will be continuous transitions from full-time to part-time, temporary, freelance and self-employed work

- We need more purpose-driven careers and jobs that showcase our uniqueness

Overall, we will have to be much more flexible and entrepreneurial in our careers. Problem is: no one taught us how to do this!


Personal learnings on transitioning

I have just been in transition for 2 years. I would have never expected it to happen to me though: I had a perfect 8 years start in social entrepreneurship with a series of dreamy jobs (understand perfect fit), purpose, authenticity and an exciting life in emerging markets. But then a few turbulent series of events sent me back to Europe 2 years ago. I suddenly had to navigate a transition which tackled everything from personal to professional, from the roof over my head to professional fit and purpose, from personal health to love.

It took me 2 painful years to adapt to Europe again, strengthen everything and be sure of what I wanted to do professionally. Even better, I realised that my passion had not changed and I pretty much wanted to do the same… Talk about deceitful realisations! Two years to get back to square one? Thankfully, my personal experience taught me a lot about how does the majority of us transition and evolve in the future of work, which is what I am going to share with you.

Leveraging transitions in the future of work

Overall, I observed that my transition was to go from having the dream job thanks to a mix of opportunities, gut feeling and luck TO having the dream job based on understanding myself, where I fit best, what I want and acting upon these.

So this is how you can leverage transitions in the future of work:

- There are times to explore, know yourself better and really embrace your singularity: your purpose, talents and what you need to perform best;

- Figure out what your current priorities on specific time frames are: flexibility of time, of location or money to pay your mortgage. To give an example here, I see friends who just had a baby and want to have more time to see their family for the first 3 years of their lives;

- Implement agile action plans to get there!


What I wish I had known when I started my transition

Our first transitions will be longer, messier and more painful than expected.

However, there are a few things that seem to help:

  • Be patient: knowing yourself takes time but it will become clearer. Even if you don’t see it, your brain is slowly making sense of all of this.
  • Practise self-care: exercise, surround yourself with kind people, indulge in little treats and if there is a week where you feel exhausted, take a break for a few days!
  • Don’t be drastic: a transition takes time so don’t drop your job and everything just today since it could take a while! Find a few areas of stability in your life, hold on to them so that you can be agile in other areas.
  • Do not compare yourself to other people around you. During a transition, everyone seems to move faster than us and our friends seem to have it all figured out. But the reality is that we all move at our own different pace and nothing can be compared. A friend gave me an amazing advice from her dad that still resonates: “Life is a marathon and not a sprint!”.
  • Surround yourself with a tribe of people who go through a similar experience, it really helps to feel heard and supported, while using the collective intelligence to brainstorm solutions.
  • Explore new things, the things that you always wanted to try. Do it, it is the perfect time and will infuse you with energy!
  • Reflect, set quiet time to absorb everything you are going through, even write if it helps you to see the dots connecting.


The future of transitions

But the amazing news about transition is: we are getting better at it over time!

Going through a transition helps you experiment for yourself that you are much more resourceful than expected and that things do come out clear eventually. It does provide you with an essential skill which is managing uncertainty, crucial to navigate your career in the future of work.



In Emerging Markets, I specialise in designing micro franchising and micro entrepreneurship educational programs, which essentially means helping people develop entrepreneurial mindsets and methods when they don’t necessarily have entrepreneurial attributes or leading environments. I am truly passionate about the less entrepreneurial, the majority of us really, and how to help them (us?) get more entrepreneurial in their career. If you want to talk about designing transformative educational programs internationally to help people being more entrepreneurial in their careers or in their lives… reach out!

Cecile Pompei