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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 November 5, 2020

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

What Is Fear of Failure?

If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

Patterns From Childhood

Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

Over-Personalization

The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

False Self-Confidence

People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

Unhealthy Organization Culture

Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

High Achievers Become Losers

Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

Loss of Creativity

Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

3. Learn to Think Positive

In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

    4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

    Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

    Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

    5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

    There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

    It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

    For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

    6. Have a Backup Plan

    It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

    “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

    Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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    Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

    There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

    7. Learn From Whatever Happens

    Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

    Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

    For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

    Final Thoughts

    To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

    Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

    Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

    More Tips for Conquering Fear

    Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

    Reference

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