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Why Are You Afraid to Make a Career Change?

You’ve finally decided to make a career change and you’re looking forward to better times, an admirable example of the career goals of a successful individual. But before you make the actual change, I’d like you to consider what might be motivating your decision.

In my 35 years of experience, I’ve identified five factors that might lead someone to seek greener career pastures:

1. Underachievement

You know that you could be accomplishing much bigger and better things and you feel you’d be able to do so in a new job.

2. Boredom

You’re tired of the same job and nothing seems to challenge you anymore, so a new job will hopefully allow you to grow.

3. Feeling stuck

You can’t seem to get promoted, no matter what you do, so it’s time to let others see your talents.

4. Lack of success

Failure seems to chase you from job-to-job, so maybe this time, it won’t catch up.

5. Increased self-awareness

You know deep down inside that this career isn’t right for you, so you think something else out there might be a better fit.

Or it could be any combination of any of those points.

Most people who want to change their job can’t really put their finger on why. They just want out. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many become paralyzed with fear as they consider the pretty scary consequences of making a bad move. Now fear isn’t the worst thing. After all, it keeps us from doing really stupid things like peering over the edge of a cliff. However, fear shouldn’t prevent us from improving our career. The secret here is to know how to control fear instead of letting it control us.

How to control your fear

When you’re controlled by fear, you’re unable to really express why you want to make a career change. You just know that you’re in distress and that you have to get out of your present situation. In this case, fear of any of the factors listed above will keep you in an inescapable loop and you’ll never move on.

On the other hand, when you control fear, you know what the exact reasons are for your career change. Granted, the fear is still there and that’s good (remember the cliff). However, because you know exactly why you want to make the change and where you want to be heading, you’re willing to face and deal with the scary parts as well.

Determine why you want to make a career change

So the important lesson here is that before you even consider a career change, you must do some introspection and determine exactly why you want this change and what you are aiming to gain from it. For example, try answering these questions about your next job:

  1. What aspects of the job do you see yourself enjoying? For example, in marketing, it might be strategizing.
  2. Taking (1) into account, what do you see as the reason for the enjoyment? For example, do you like analyzing data?
  3. What aspects of the job do you see yourself enjoying less? For example, it might be meetings with clients.
  4. Taking (3) into account, what do you see as the reason for enjoying them less? For example, do you have a fear of public speaking?

Using these questions as a guide, you’ll understand the true advantages and disadvantages of making a career change. So while the fear factors above are still very much there, you’ll be better informed—and equipped—to handle them better.

When deciding to make a career change, don’t let fear take over. Instead, spend some time really understanding what you want out of the change. You’ll see that you’re making the right decision for the right reasons.

Good luck!

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

About the Author Etika Katabi

Etika founded her blog - Great managers are made. Not born. - based on 35 years of field research and experience in empowering mid-level executives to achieve the promotions they deserve. Reach out to Etika on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

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