Thinking of making a career change immobilizes most people with fear. Whether you are aiming for a slight adjustment or a dramatic shift, altering your career path in any way can be overwhelming. And let’s face it — conducting a job search is not anyone’s idea of a good time. Often, job seekers choose to ignore the challenge instead of face it head-on. As a result, they end up years later in the same job they do not enjoy, wondering where the time went.
We gets calls all the time from clients who tell us, “I have been thinking about making a change for five years, I just never did anything about it.” We know this happens frequently because of the negative statistics that come out every few years regarding job satisfaction. One of the latest surveys shows that 44% of the workforce is unsatisfied. What keeps us stagnant is fear, plain and simple.
The first two things you have to understand about the process of changing jobs are: 1) You need to identify what holds you back from your career goals before you can move towards those goals. Not understanding the obstacles means when you hit a brick wall, you will stop instead of continuing on. 2) You must understand the mental game of career transition and how it is “make or break” to your success in that transition. Making this kind of change is as much a mental game as playing a sport is. Why? Because our jobs pay our bills and our identity is often wrapped up in what we do. It is much easier to ignore our dissatisfaction until it reaches an incredibly high level and, until then, we muddle through. It is like an old pair of slippers that do not fit anymore; at least we know what to expect!
Here are three ways to face the fear and prevent it from holding you back in your transition.
Step #1: Identify and face the fear. Be aware of the obstacles and how you view your career transition. Complete these exercises:
- When you think of career change, what words and emotions come up first? Some may be negative, some may be positive. Circle the negative ones. Those are the fears or obstacles you need to overcome for your transition.
- For each negative thought, determine how you can manage it. Do you need to replace it with an affirmation, for example, or learn to push it aside?
- Choose ONE to work on this week.
In order to make your transition successful, and muster up the courage to even take that first step, you must face the fear directly.
Step #2: Actively manage. Create a system to remind you to manage this negative thought. Is it a Post-It note on your desk or bathroom mirror? Does journaling work well for you? You can journal about your thoughts in the evening. Whatever works best for you, make a commitment to manage it proactively and a structure to remind you to do so regularly.
Step #3: Visualize your success. It all starts with attitude. Your fears affect your attitude, and your attitude affects your action steps. One way to face your fears and adjust your attitude is to think about who you need to be to implement the change. Brave, willing to take risks, more confident? You cannot just take action; you have to take it in the right way. And we cannot always just say, “I will take these actions,” we need to visualize who we need to be in order to step into the right mindset.
Here is an exercise for this: Fast-forward 10–20 years (whatever timeframe is comfortable for you). If you have any personal qualities you aspire to have, like confidence, wisdom, communication skills, or anything else — which ones will get you to be successful in your transition? Write down two of those now. Then think of one person in your life who has that quality. Think about them for inspiration when you need it.
Make a commitment to face the fear head on. The number one obstacle preventing career seekers from finding their ideal job is not knowing their direction in the first place. It starts with you. Watch this video to learn more about taking the risks required to manage your transition and how to mitigate them.