What to do When You’re Afraid to Change Career

So what do you do when you’re afraid to change careers?

Let’s explore that for a bit. 

Very simply, many of us stay in jobs that don’t make us happy because we’re afraid to do something about it. 

And that makes sense, change can be scary. 

Even if your work leaves you feeling flat or your weeks are far from fantastic, it’s predictable, probably secure and you know what you’re doing. 

When you change that it means a whole new world lies ahead.

We like predictability.

It gives us a sense of safety and helps us to feel in control. But it’s a façade. The more stuck we are the more stress we feel and our wellbeing and mental health gets challenged.  And we all know we’re harder to live with when we’re moody and demotivated.

Think about it, when you are at your happiest, you have more patience and tolerance, you’re more open to engaging with others and filling your time with activities you can share with your loved ones. 

When you’re feeling bored or frustrated at work and you feel like there is no way out, this drains your energy and the people around you get what’s left over at the end of the week. Being stuck through fear is a lose-lose situation. 

So what do you do when you’re afraid to change your career? 

Here’s my roundup of top tips

1. Commit to the change. 

I challenge you that it’s more frightening thinking of yourself in the same place in 5 years than it is to think about gradually working out how to dig yourself out of the career hole you find yourself in. 

What does this look like?

Just commit to the change. You don’t have to have it all worked out but decide that you’re going to change your situation and then set out on the path to finding out how to do that. 

It’s impossible to have all of the steps of your career change mapped out at the start, and yet, because we like predictability and control, we like to try and do this. 

Your exit plan can evolve as you learn more and more of what is required. If you focus on the day you hand in your resignation and take your leap of faith, you’re going to stay stuck. This day is a long way from where you are now and you’re probably in a position where you don’t even know what you’d rather be doing. 

2. Break it down

Your winning strategy when you’re feeling the fear is to break your career change goals down into micro steps. 

If you’re in a position where you have no idea what you want to do, the first goal is to work out what you want to do. Forget about leaving your job, forget about how you’re going to finance it, none of that is relevant if you don’t know what you want. 

Once you have this first goal in mind then break that down. 

These are all steps that will inch you forward 

Once you’ve gone through a number of micro steps, you’re already closer to achieving your goal than you are now. 

3. Understand that fear is a normal part of change

Humans are conditioned to retreat from fear. It’s a physiological reaction to danger. When you’re choosing to make a career change, it ignites a fight-flight-freeze reaction. 

You need to learn to work with this if you’re going to overcome it and start taking action. 

How do you do this? 

When you notice yourself worrying about something or fretting, try to name the fear and challenge it. 

For example, a typical fear is one of financial security. 

Try asking yourself questions like these? 

  1. What’s the likelihood that your fear will become a reality?
  2. Does it require the level of anxiety that you are giving it? 
  3. What can you to mitigate the factors that you’re afraid of?
  4. Is there a more positive way to approach the topic you’re thinking of? 

In the face of fear, engage productive thinking and you’ll begin to inch forward, rather than stay stuck in the fear. 

4. Talk to others

It’s useful to get out of your own head. 

If you’re anything like me you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about the obstacles that may lie ahead in your pursuit to more meaningful work.  

Whilst it can be helpful to think about the challenges you’ll face, when you share your ideas and thoughts with others, they can provide useful, alternative perspectives, reassurance and encouragement. 

Another benefit to talking to others is that it makes your career change aspiration real, and the more you talk about it, the more convinced you’ll become that it is the way forward. 

5. Expect setbacks

The path to success is never linear, despite what Instagram and Facebook might make it look like! 

Be prepared to learn as you go, take a few wrong turns, struggle to find the answers. You’re probably telling yourself that you simply MUST get this right. Sure, that’s what you want to aim for but it’s not the end of the world if you make a move and it’s not all you had hoped for. Learn, adapt, change, grow and keep moving forward. 

I hope you found this a useful read. Remember to check out my new Facebook Group.

See you there 🙂 

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