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10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

It sounds amazing to quit a job you don’t like in order to do something you love – but doing it? That’s another matter entirely.

No one wants to spend years of their life tied to a job they hate, a boss they loathe or to work that makes them fall asleep in their carefully wrapped turkey and cheese sandwiches.

The problem is that the prospect of actually changing careers is a scary one.

But the truth is changing your career is a lot less scary than you thought. Here are 10 things you shouldn’t be afraid of when you’re changing careers.

10 Career Change Fears You Can Let Go Of Today

1. Being a beginner

Most career changers worry about starting their career over at the bottom. Once you’ve climbed the ladder, who wants to start all over? If your skills are highly transferable, then chances are you don’t have to start again.

If they don’t transfer well, don’t let it stop you. Being afraid of being a beginner is largely a fear of failure and a lack of confidence. The world is changing fast. In fact, 65% of kids in grade school today will have jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And while you’re not in grade school, the truth is we’re all learners. People who stay in their comfort zone may wake up and find their comfort zone doesn’t even exist tomorrow.

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So get out there and do what you want to do with your career, because change is coming anyway.

2. What if I make a mistake?

Like any decision, making a mistake can have consequences. If you’re paralyzed about a career decision because you think that the consequences of getting it wrong are just too huge, there are things you can do.

First, do your very best to eliminate the possibility that you are making a mistake. You can talk to friends or get coaching to help you make the right decision, or start with some career quizzes or insightful questions. Before deciding on a career, consider the careers you aren’t choosing, and make peace with leaving those behind. Talk to people in your new field, or even do an internship.

Then, before you make a leap, minimize the impact of a wrong choice. Do you have a back-up plan? Have you been in recent communication with people in your network that could help you find a new job fast? Have you considered your financial situation?

Chances are, you will make a good decision. If you find that you hate your new career immediately, careful planning will help soften the blow. The off chance that you’ll end up in a bad career situation isn’t a reason that you should stay in a situation that you already know is bad.

3. Making less money

This is probably the biggest concern of all. First off, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make less money in a new career, but if that seems likely for you, there are a few things to consider.

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First, you are weighing money against happiness. While your old job makes you unhappy, so does being broke.You need both money and happiness, so only you can decide where the balance is for you.

If you decide to go for it and make your career change, prepare financially, and recognize that you are prioritizing your happiness. Focus on that rather than on the money.

4. Fear of the unknown

Sometimes just not knowing what’s next is enough to make us think twice about doing anything differently. Our comfort zones are called that for a reason.

At this point though, you might realize that you risk a lot by staying put – probably more than you do by doing something different. The only way forward is coping with the fear of what could happen  by realizing you can handle your worst fears.

5. Fear of failure

What happens if you make your mind up to leave your boring-as-dirt job, figure out what you truly love, go after it, and then find that no one wants to hire you because you have no experience in your new career field?

If you haven’t already gotten experience through an internship or volunteer position, you might find that many employers are able to see beyond your specific job functions. They are willing to hire for who you are and what you can learn more than what you already know.

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There are employers who realize that there are key qualities that can’t be taught and if you have them, you might be the right candidate regardless of your experience.

If you’re worried about getting the job and not being able to do the work, work on your skills and confidence so that you can keep doing the work you love!

6. Upsetting other people

Any time you do something different in your life, other people are going to have something to say about it. It’s your life and you have to live with the consequences, good or bad.

Decide how much influence anyone else has a right to have over your decisions. A friend might not have any, while a spouse might have more. In the end though, only you can decide what makes you happy.

7. Fear that it’s too late

Haven’t you heard? Career change is all the rage now. It’s not too late. You can be successful no matter how old you are, and you can figure out finances, health insurance and other practical matters as well.

You don’t have to sacrifice happiness – and years of your life – waiting to get to a place when making a move feels realistic.

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8. Fear that something is wrong with you

Worried that something is wrong with you because you don’t have this figured out already? Don’t be. It’s never too late to change your career, and even famous, successful people didn’t figure it out until later in life. It doesn’t mean anything bad about you that you aren’t finished growing yet. In fact, it’s a good thing!

9. Fear about handling your life

Your life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming as it is, and the thought of adding a career change on top of all that is daunting. Then when you think about what the career change means – new responsibilities, new people, a new environment, a possible change in income. . . it can be too much to handle.

The truth is, you can handle it.  You just need to take each change by itself and not let all of them gang up on you. When you do that, you’ll find you can deal with the changes and enjoy the reason you’re making the move in the first place.

10. Fear about wasting the education and experience you’ve already invested in

Don’t hang onto an education or experience that isn’t serving your goals anymore, no matter how hard you worked for it, or how much you paid for it.

You may not have to “waste” your education or experience at all. But if your new job doesn’t require the work you’ve already put into those things, you can still move forward. Use a skilled resume writer to help you position yourself better and to highlight the skills that do transfer. Also, use your network to land a job through someone you know rather than coming in cold. Finally let your feelings about putting your past education and experience behind you. Otherwise, you’ll stay tethered to work that you don’t want to be doing just because you’ve already invested there.

Bold Action

Fear is the biggest barrier between you and changing your career to something you love. You can figure out all the “what’s” and the “how’s” that may come up, but until you’re willing to take action on your plan and push through your fear, nothing can happen. Now is the time!

Featured photo credit: Lonely Foggy Road via picjumbo.com

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Jessica Sweet

Career Coach

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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