Are you afraid to make a career change? Any major change can make us fearful, it’s a normal reaction as we are on the way to something new. We aren’t sure on how the future will work out and we can focus on the worst possible outcome. This is known as catastrophising. I’m good at this, but I don’t want to be. Our house has only been on sale for 3 weeks, and already I’m having negative conversations in my head – when will we get a buyer who has already sold! At least I’m recognising this and say STOP! To make me think of something else.
Anyway, back to you. If you are thinking of making a career change, alongside the practicalities of working out what you want to do you also need to think of your inner strength to make the change.
Firstly, do you really want to change career (or learn to ride a bike, lose 20 pounds etc).
If this is for someone else, you may easily fall off track. You must want to do something for yourself. Rate yourself on a 1-10 scale and if you want to make this change and rate yourself as 8 or above it is likely to happen. The lower the score the more work you need to do to make it compelling.
You have moved on from career discovery to career decision making
You may have enjoyed finding out more about yourself and exploring different options but may feel that none are ‘the one’. Often this is because people are looking for perfection. There focus tends to be on the negative, the reasons why each career path is unlikely to work out.
This is often down to fear, and there are different types of fear.
- The fear of disappointment. By not moving towards a new career direction you can fantasise that the perfect career is still out there. You just haven’t found it yet.
- The fear of making a mistake. We can’t know ‘for sure’ that our decision will be the right one. There could be something that you didn’t consider, or a key person – your new boss, or trusted direct support could leave. Too many people, at the end of their life, regret the choices they didn’t take rather than the choices made.
- Fear of disapproval. Many younger people choose careers that have status and are approved of my parents such as lawyer or doctor. What you want to do may be seen as lower status or risky. You may like to talk through the reasons why you want to make the change so close family members, and perhaps friends are clear on why you want to do it.
- Fear of success. Many people can worry about taking a promotion or getting a substantial rise. It’s a feeling of not being good enough, that somehow others will spot you as a fraud and realise that they have made a mistake. Address this by reminding yourself of all the reasons why you have been selected.
- Fear of disappointing your current boss and colleagues. When your work is like an extended family you may feel that you are letting them down, but you can help by producing great handover material.
- The fear of having to compromise. We don’t get everything you want. Seeking a high salary can mean having to work longer hours or a more stressful job. If you want time freedom and autonomy you must take responsibility for managing your own career. It’s why understanding values is such an important part of career discovery.
- The fear and frustration with the pace of change. If you are going to make a career shift you may have to take a step back or may have to do more of the routine aspects of a job. It’s all part of a change. Accept this is part of the transition.
There are other things too like learned helplessness – you may not expect good things to happen and be focused on the worse that can happen. So, take a baby step to do something you have wanted to do as a step along the way.