Making A Career Change

What's Holding You Back?

Have you thought about doing work you love, but ultimately found yourself paralyzed with fear and doubt? Here are the most common reasons for resisting a positive career change.

Identifying Fear & Resistance

It is easy to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t venture out of our comfort zone, even when we know in our hearts it is an emotionally positive move. And when we look honestly at our reasons for resisting, we find they can all be reduced to either fear or denial.

What’s Holding You Back?


Reason #1: Doing the “Right” Thing
Often we choose a career because we believe it will create financial stability, give us social status, benefit humanity, or because it has been done by our parents and grandparents.

Sometimes we choose our careers to please our parents, who expect us to follow their standards for success, or hope we will live out the dreams they have chosen for us.

In any case, we have based our choices on an external motivator, and are setting ourselves up for eventual misery, disappointment, or burnout. External motivators are chosen based on fear.

Reason #2: Fear of Loss & Deprivation
Doing work you love usually means starting over, and the loss of a stable income, health insurance, and retirement benefits are often both real and frightening, especially if the career change entails starting your own business or doing freelance work where benefits are more expensive or unavailable.

Consider your reasons for believing that replacing these things will be too costly, or even impossible. Don’t let fear hold you back!

Reason #3: Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is almost always instilled in us by others! Many of us have been trained since we were children to do what others want us to do. This early conditioning comes from our family members, religious and educational institutions, and society.

We are effectively taught to embrace pre-defined “rules of success” that may be in direct conflict with our inner passions and dreams of fulfillment. We’ve been consistently told, either directly, or indirectly, that any deviation from these “rules” will result in failure.

Even as adults, we often allow others to dictate these rules of success. It is common practice for friends, family, and co-workers to provide us with a list of reasons why we can’t succeed doing work we love.

It’s important to remember that they are not experts – they are simply playing by the same rules that were also taught to them. In particular, we live in a world where logic is emphasized in our educational systems, and if you’ve invested years into education and experience, logic says to keep on trucking, because change brings risk to the equation.

Reason #4: Perceived Investment
“Investment” is often seen as a logical reason for staying in a job that makes us miserable or doesn’t meet our emotional needs. Making a career change after years of education and experience is often depicted as “throwing away years of time, money, and education.”

Instead of buying into this negative thinking, it is important to measure your investment by your own standards. Understand that in the end, it is simply a matter of perspective, and that you are the best judge of what is best for you.

Unfortunately, the emotional and physical cost of maintaining that perceived investment may be greater than the cost of starting over on a new path!

The bottom line is that people, organizations, and situations are not static – they do change over time. It is unreasonable to expect that a decision you made when you were 20 will be the right decision for the rest of your life.

We constantly upgrade our material investments over time – such as moving from a typewriter to a computer, from landlines to cell phones, etc.

Spend some time assessing why you’re resisting a positive career change, and the value of upgrading to work you love. For more information, visit the worksheets and personal development articles.

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Is Work Draining You?
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