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6 Emotions You’ll Experience During a Job Change

Topics: Career Advice

Leaving one job to pursue another can be a bittersweet time in your career. On one hand, you’re glad that you have this new, promising opportunity lying ahead, but it’s also scary and unfamiliar. You may even struggle with feelings of guilt and sadness as you leave your current employer and co-workers behind. However, making the switch from one job to another doesn’t have to be an emotional roller coaster, if you know what to expect. Here are six emotions you’re probably going to experience during this transitional phase in your career.

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Evolving in your career is natural, but change isn’t always easy. For instance, if “evolving” is the result of being fired or laid off from your job, then you will probably experience some negative emotions from the upheaval. Even if your departure from your current job is amicable and a positive boost for your career, you’ll have some feelings as a result of leaving the familiar behind.

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To prevent your emotions from blindsiding you during the transition, be prepared. Here’s what you might feel, when you leave one job and take another:

Negative Emotions You May Experience

1. Depression and Sadness

Leaving your current job can feel like a breakup or divorce for many professionals, so it’s not uncommon for feelings of sadness, and even depression, to set in after the decision to leave is finally made. These initial feelings are normal when momentous occasions like a career change happen, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, accept that this is part of the process and that you’re doing exactly what you should be doing for yourself and your career.

2. Guilt

Moving on in your career can bring on feelings of guilt because you may feel as though you’re leaving everyone and everything behind (e.g. job, employer, co-workers, clients, etc.) to pursue new opportunities at a new company. You may even feel selfish for moving on, but try not to let those damaging feelings seep in during this time, because they will only do more harm than good.

3. Fear and Anxiety

Change isn’t always easy, but as the saying goes, when one door closes, another door opens. Just know that there will always be fear in the unknown, so do your best to focus on making this new chapter in your life an unforgettable one. Doubting yourself and/or your decision to move on will only cause you undue stress and anxiety, which will do absolutely nothing for you but set you back. This time of change is about moving forward, creating new memories, and achieving new successes – not about looking back or trying to predict the future.

Positive Emotions You May Experience

1. Acceptance

Once you get through the emotional turmoil mentioned above, you’ll begin accepting your decision to move on and realize that you’re doing what’s best for you and your career. You’ll see that your decision to move on is not you not abandoning your employer and leaving them high and dry. Instead, you’ll appreciate the role that your employer played in your professional development during your time there, and you’ll also realize that you played a pivotal role at the company while you were employed.

2. Relief

One of the best emotions you’ll encounter during this process is relief. This is the time to start constructing your game plan for this new phase in your career, now that you’re past the negative emotions and in the right mindset. You no longer have feelings of guilt or sadness, so you can make room for the good feelings that will help drive success.

3. Motivation and Determination

Your newfound feelings of elation and relief will open the door for motivation and determination to seep on in – and, boy, does it feel good. This is about the time that you begin getting excited, and you finally begin to embrace the fact that you are doing the right thing. You’re more motivated than ever to achieve your dreams and go for the gold. You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at, and there’s no stopping you now.

In these types of situations, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, it may ease some anxiety to get a good idea of what you should be earning, how to negotiate the salary you deserve, and where your new career path will take you over the next five years. The more you know about what to expect during these transitional periods in your life and career, the better. Good luck!

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What other ways helped you cope with a career switch or major career decision? Share your story with our community on Twitter or leave a comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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How long does it take to work through these emotions? I’m currently experiencing depression and anxiety after changing jobs and fighting the urge to go back to my old job where it’s safe and familiar…

Mayur Thakor
Mayur Thakor

Hi Leah Arnold-Smeets,

This is exactly what I needed at this moment.

No matter how many times I have done this in past, its always difficult to make change.

Your findings have made me to overcome most of the negative thoughts, regain the momentum, control and focus on more important thing i.e. MY future.

Again Thanks a lot for this.


Thank you, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I was feeling so confused but this made me feel better.


I have been feeling fear , depression, and anxiety after leaving a job that I was at for long time. So much that I change jobs 3 times in 6 months after leaving the old job. I feel like I just can’t be happy and was really down. Thanks for writing this as I see this is not just me and others feel this.. Man change gets hard as you get older as I don’t recall this earlier in my… Read more »


This post described exactly what I’m going through right now I feel like I Kno what is going on but I’m still anxious and netvous internally.. this job is in the same field for me but a different concentration so it’s like being new to most things but not all I have been at the job about a month now and still feel depression and anxiousness most of the time.


I went through a structured discharge from my old job of 12years. I stuck it out for 2-1/2 months while they systematically took me apart. I was very depressed but I got a new job before they could finish the deed. New job is difficult for me and I’m motivated but in my off time I cant seem to get anything done for myself. I must drag myself through for now until it all clears up.

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