Overcoming the Fear of Change

Changing your career can be scary, but it doesn't have to be.

Recognize common limiting beliefs, learn how to overcome them, and receive valuable advice from a real-life hiring professional.

Guest post by Brynne Labuzan - Content Writer Intern

Changing careers can seem like a formidable process. While recognizing that you are unhappy in your career is easy, actually doing something about it is a far greater challenge. When fear and doubt work together to deter us from pursuing their long-term career goals, we can find ourselves stuck on the endless hamster wheel of misaligned career paths.

To avoid such a miserable fate, it's important to understand where these fears and doubts stem from and how to overcome them when necessary. So if any of this has resonated with you so far, keep reading – we’re about to take a deep dive into the exciting and terrifying frontier that is career changes.

Let's talk about limiting beliefs...

After speaking with a variety of young professionals who were considering a career change, I began to notice distinct commonalities in their hesitations. So, here you have it – The Top 3 Limiting Beliefs when it comes to changing your career:

1. I do not have enough experience or the right skillset.

When confronting a career change, it's entirely normal to consider how your skills and experience will transfer over (not only is it normal, it's also very important!). You have spent precious time establishing yourself in your current career and it would be a shame to have to start from scratch. However, when it comes to skills and experience, perspective is everything. Rather than hyper-focusing on specific facets of your career history, you should take a step back and look at the bigger picture. While specific skills and experiences may have been curated to your current career, they will continue to exist and evolve with change. In the world of career development, this concept is referred to as "transferable skills."

For example, a server who wants to enter the world of sales may feel that their restaurant experience is not applicable to their desired career path. When considering the intricacies of the two careers, this doubt seems completely warranted. However, a broader perspective tells a different story. While the two career paths are entirely separate from one another, both inherently rely on effective communication. A server who is compensated in tips learns very quickly that providing good conversation and building rapport is essential to getting paid. As such, they often become extremely effective and engaging communicators. This is an acquired, transferable skill that is invaluable to employers in many other career paths – especially when it comes to sales. 

So while you may feel as if your skills and experience are not directly applicable to your changing career path, try to look at them from a new perspective. Rather than focusing on job-specific proficiencies, identify your core skills and begin looking for positions that require the same. By simply being aware of what you can bring to the table, you will gain the confidence necessary to take those first steps towards the career of your dreams.

2. What if I end up regretting my decision?

A career change is not something to be taken lightly. We spend 1/3 of our lives in our careers and rely on them for security, so it can be very scary to abandon your safety net to pursue an alternative career path. You may worry that you’re making the wrong decision and wonder if this new career will be any better than the last. These worries are entirely justified, but also extremely limiting.

When it comes to career changes, they are usually the result of long-term dissatisfaction – no one chooses to change their career path because of one bad day. Rather, they begin to recognize patterns in the way their work makes them feel. After acknowledging the sources of their dissatisfaction, they can then begin looking for solutions. This usually involves a lengthy process of reflection and consideration, and only after can one actually begin making the change. With this in mind, the fear of regret seems rather unfounded. If you have gotten to the point where you are actively considering a change, you have probably already done your homework. You know that your current career is no longer fulfilling, and you acknowledge the reasons why. As such, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which you would regret prioritizing your happiness and success. More likely, you will end up regretting your decision to remain in a position that no longer fulfills you when you could be spending that time working towards achieving your long-term goals.

While leaving your comfort zone can be rather daunting, pursuing a career that excites you will give you an inherent advantage when you begin making the transition. After all, it is often said that happiness breeds success.  In present times, it is perfectly normal to try out a variety of jobs and positions before finding the one that brings you long-term fulfillment. So even if you end up disliking your first new job after making a career change, don’t be discouraged. You always have the ability to find another that is better suited to you, and the experience and insight you gained throughout your career history will only help you to identify what that position is. So leave regret out of this – it only serves to distract you from actualizing your goals.

3. Maybe I should just stay at my current position and hope that things get better with time.

When it comes to navigating your career path, your intuition is your strongest ally. However, in a world centered around performance and productivity, it can be easy to fall out of touch with your intuition. You may find yourself prioritizing others’ goals over your own, especially within the workplace. This disconnect between intuition and action can ultimately distance an individual from their vision of success. As such, it's critically important to bring your intuition back into the narrative of your career.

While you may feel pressured to continue on a misaligned career path in hopes of things eventually improving, you must allow your intuition to guide you. You will know when something doesn’t feel right. And I’m not talking about minor grievances – I’m talking about that overwhelming feeling in your gut that you can’t quite describe but can immediately acknowledge when it's there. If your job is giving you that feeling, it's probably because it isn’t the right fit.

People cannot just fit neatly into any job or position. In order to be successful, they must be personally aligned with the nature of the work. At CareersKitchen, we believe that every single person deserves to find the career that is the perfect fit for them. We also believe that our intuition can be the catalyst that sparks this process of self-discovery if we simply allow it to be. In terms of your career, self-awareness is everything. By listening to your intuition, you will develop an awareness of your values, what energizes you, what you are naturally good at, and what opportunities in the market align with you. So start listening to your intuition – you will be enlightened and inspired by what you find.

Now that we have debunked the top three limiting beliefs surrounding career changes, it is time to talk about how they play out in the real world.

To gain some insight on this topic, I spoke with Chris Keene who works as the Director of Field Operations for PICKUP, a nationwide final mile delivery service. In addition to being responsible for the overall execution of his team’s performance in the field, Chris is also directly involved in the interviewing and hiring of candidates who want to work for PICKUP. In our interview, he shared some valuable insights from his experience and gave pertinent advice for anyone looking to make a career change.

Experience vs. Ambition: Which is more important?

When asked if he values experience over ambition, Chris definitively chose the latter. He justified his choice with the following statement: “I can teach and build expertise with someone as long as they have the ambition to learn it.” While relevant experience in the field is always a plus when applying for a new job, it is not a requirement. According to Chris, employers are more interested in seeing that you are excited about the opportunity and committed to learning the relevant skills. At the end of the day, new skills can be taught – aspiration and initiative cannot.

While discussing the pressure many young professionals feel to stick with their initial career path, Chris provided some thought-provoking advice. He shared, “I think it is important for someone to be happy with their career, and it is hard to make that decision so early on in life. I think they should research and see what sounds the most appealing to them and their strengths and give it a shot. If they don't like it, fail quickly and move on to something else you may enjoy. You don't want to get stuck working in a career you don't enjoy because you are too afraid to change.”

Failure is a way of knowing.

Something that immediately stuck out to me in Chris’s response was the phrase, “fail quickly and move on.” I think for many people, failure is at the top of their list of biggest fears. As a concept, failure is inherently terrifying. It involves putting your time and energy towards something that you will never actually achieve. However, Chris’s comment prompted me to consider the nature of failure through a different lens.

While it's not something any of us look forward to or seek out, failure is a poignant way of knowing. It allows us to recognize what we already know and what we have still yet to learn. With each failure, we get closer to our vision of success. As such, it shouldn’t be something that we fear, but rather something we embrace and use to our advantage. This reframing of failure is something each and every individual should practice when embarking on a career change. It allows one to discover their passion organically without being hindered by hesitation and doubt. As Chris said, we should be allowed to fail quickly and move on. What we shouldn’t be allowed to do is remain on a misaligned career path and become estranged from our interests and goals.

If you are considering changing your career, you are most likely experiencing some degree of hesitation. While these doubts are completely normal and justified, you must not allow them to make your decisions for you. Your intuition has your best interest at heart and will guide you towards fulfillment if you give it the opportunity to do so. By listening to your intuition and developing self-awareness, you will gain an enhanced understanding of what your long-term career goals are and how to ultimately achieve them.

While it is never too late to realize your long-term career goals and make a change, time spent on a misaligned career path is time that could be spent actualizing your vision of success. Do not give your fears and doubts the power to control you – this is your future we’re talking about, it’s about time that you have a say in how it unfolds. 

How do you find the opportunity that is right for you?

@CareersKitchen, we would love to hear how it is going for you!

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