Fight, Flight or Freeze : what is your response to career change ?

Drawing showing a stickman facing a career change.

Fight or flight response to a stress has been identified and named as such many years back. Recently, a third word has been added to those : “freeze”.

A career change is stressful

It is stressful when you are forced to move from your comfort zone and it is also stressful when it is your own choice to initiate a change. It can be compared to a threat : humans, like animals have different ways to response to a threat.

What is your natural way to respond to a professional transition ?


This is the idea of fighting against the movement which pushes you in a different direction or another. Some people cannot help fighting to remain in the same position, even there is actually little chance to do so. The energy is at that moment spent on fighting. It is a way to survive to the event which is considered as a threat. The one fighting believes oneself can win and get what he/she wants.

Is the fight a desperate way to respond ? Is the fight worse it ? There are some cases where been laid off has been beneficial to some of my clients. It has opened new doors, giving them new perspectives of growth.


This type of response is when you are willing to escape from the situation as fast as possible. Some people will find a way to move away at any cost from a situation. Leave the company, leave the corporate world, change to a completely different job description…The one fleeing hopes to find a safer place elsewhere.

There are toxic situations where it is better to leave, resign to keep one’s sanity. However, I would recommend to take the time to think of “What’s next ? ” instead of jumping on anything else with no real plan or goal. You deserve a fulfilling career !


The “freeze” response is when you are paralyzed by the event. You might not have seen the change coming and you are panicking: no more job, no more income, no more colleagues… The person can be so overwhelmed by the transition that he/she does not see any way out.

The energy level can get so low that it would require the help from the beloved ones and eventually professionals to restore and rebound.

Knowing how you tend to behave in a particularly stressful situation will help you adapt your response to a professional transition and thrive into it.

For a deeper dive into your own change of career, contact Anne for a discovery session.

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