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5 Ways to Overcome Fear and Get the Career You Deserve

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you didn’t like? Have you ever wanted to make a career transition, but decided not to seek out other options due to fear or doubt?

Most of us have been there. We are unhappy with our current job, but the fear of the unknown keeps us from doing anything about it.

“People who feel stuck in their jobs and are not happy but don’t see a way out or have fear about changing careers or moving into a new job because it is safe where they are. They are stuck in what I call their ego or unconscious or subconscious mind,” career coach Marla Williams explains. “It is based on all the messages they heard growing up. It is that little voice in their heads which never stops. It is that place where worry, stress, anxiety or fear show up, or that feeling of I should have, would have, could have. All of these feelings and beliefs are not the real you. They are your belief system based on your upbringing and messages you heard your entire life.”

This belief system is a major roadblock in moving towards the life we dream about because we are accustomed to listening to that inner voice instead of listening to our inner wisdom. With that in mind, we asked our career coaches to provide ways to overcome that fear and get the life and career we want and deserve.

1. Get clear on what you REALLY want

It’s important to understand what it is you really want from a job before making any kind of change, advises career coach Sally Anne Giedrys. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What led me to this career? (Were you once passionate about the industry? Did you just fall into it?)
  • What is missing from my current job?
  • What do I like about my current job?
  • What kind of job would better suit me? (What gets you really excited?)

Having a better understanding of what you like and don’t like about your current role and carving out options for other career possibilities is a great please to start. What’s more, you may even discover that it isn’t really the job itself you need to change, but your perspective. If you need some help figuring out what you want in your professional life, hiring a career coach is a great option.

2. Understand and own your fear

What are you afraid of? Is it a lack of financial security? Is it a fear of what your friends and family will think? Are you afraid to disappoint both yourself and those around you?

If you take the time to understand what exactly it is that is holding you back, you can evaluate the risks, have conversations with loved ones about your feelings if you need to and take hold of those fears. We are all afraid sometimes. It is a natural human emotion. However, it is often the things that scare us that lead us to achieve our greatest accomplishments. If you can own that fear and gain the courage to step out of your comfort zone, there could be amazing things waiting for you.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

“Fear of uncertainty is a part of life. We have all felt it and we will feel it again. This is why I encourage my clients to sign off from all the bravado about being fearless. We don’t have to overcome our fears—we just need to know when they might be running the show,” Sally Anne says.

“To recognize fear, we must: 1) notice we are stuck or stopped or blocked, 2) realize our part in the status quo, 3) honor we were doing the best we could up until we recognized we could be looking at things differently and making new or fresh choices which might change things for us AND 4) we are willing to ‘really stop to look fear in the face,” career coach Lynden Kidd adds.

3. Get more information/experiment

We all know the saying, knowledge is power and it rings true when you are considering a career change. By arming yourself with as much information as possible about the industry, the job and the training and certification needed to apply, you can feel more confident about making a career transition. Do your research. Conduct informational interviews. When you gather all the facts, you remove that fear of the unknown and you can make an informed decision about your professional future.

” Pick one and experiment. The experimentation mindset is important. It is simply a test—an explorer mission, if you like,” Sally Anne says. “You’re not choosing your next set-in-stone career move and you are not looking for perfection— you are testing out a theory of where you might want to go.”

4. Be realistic

As you go through the process of gathering information about different career options, you will likely get a reality check at some point. If your dream career is to become a heart surgeon, but you can’t stand the site of blood, it’s likely you’ll have to look at different options. This is an extreme example of course, but there can be smaller barriers that prevent you from taking on certain feats. Being realistic about how much schooling you can do to make a career change, whether or not you are willing and able to relocate for work or school and how much time and effort you want to commit to get to where you want to be is essential.

You should also be realistic about your expectations for yourself and the expectations of your loved ones. We are often afraid of disappointing people, but that fear can be misplaced. Would anyone really be upset with you for following your dreams and making a career change? Or are these fears all in your head? It is likely that those in your life would be happy to support you in whatever you do, so be realistic about your fears. Open up the lines of communication about your desires for the future and you’ll likely be surprised at the response you get.

5. Take action

Now that you have an understanding of what you fear and you’ve gathered enough knowledge to make an informed decision for your career, it’s time to take action!

“Action is often the antidote to being paralyzed by fear, and it can be a huge confidence-booster as well—if those actions are first grounded in your strengths, values, and honesty about what you’re really craving from your professional life,” Sally Anne advises.

“To stop fear, we must: 1) know and love ourselves, and 2) be clear why we are here (what’s your why for getting up each day?) and 3) take action,” Lynden says. “In the context of our careers, that means that we must keep sacred the dream of where we wish to end up AND keep moving toward that vision.

“In the U.S., the ‘quit rate’ which is determined by the department of labor is at the lowest levels since before the recession.  That means that employees are summoning the courage and are brave enough to quit doing jobs that they hate!  They are brave enough to say to themselves, ‘even though I’m fearful of what might be around the corner, around the corner is better than where I’m at, and it’s time’! It’s time,” she adds.

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you get the career you deserve? Browse our directory of career coaches or request a personalized coach recommendation!

About the Author Kristen Moran

Kristen is the editor and community manager at and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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