By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition.
Career change is one of the biggest life transitions there is, so it’s little wonder that many of us approach the process with fear and trepidation. We’re afraid that we’ll choose the wrong career, that we won’t be able to get a job, that our friends and family will disapprove. In truth, if we prepare well for career change and think smartly about it instead of panicking, none of these things will happen. By facing our fears, we take away any justification there might be for them.
Acknowledge the fear. Think of that inner voice, the one that says you can’t do it, as a gremlin. Your internal gremlins might be stopping you from getting what you want career wise. Acknowledge your inner gremlin instead of ignoring it. This is the first step to dealing with it.
Just breathe. It’s all very well saying ‘be positive’, but how can we practically integrate positivity into our daily rituals? As trivial as it sounds, concentrating on our breathing can help, as this calms us down and minimizes any anxiety we might be feeling. Take a few moments every day to just be still, close your eyes and focus on your body as it breathes in and out.
Relive your achievements. Going through the different stages of your life, make a list of everything you’ve achieved at school and work, in your relationships, as a parent and in your spare time. Look at this list whenever you need reminding that you need not be scared of change—your achievements show you are more than capable of succeeding on this new adventure.
Be inspired. Doing something that others have successfully done makes the prospect less scary. For inspiration from those who’ve been there and done that, ask people you know who’ve successfully changed careers what worked for them and how they felt once they’d landed their new role and had something to celebrate and enjoy.
Have fun. Making something fun takes away its power to be scary. Have fun with your career change by taking interesting weekend classes and attending hands-on workshops to learn new skills that’ll look good on your CV. Play your favourite music in the background when you’re at home browsing the Internet for job vacancies or information on new careers. When you go to job interviews, wear one favourite accessory that livens up your outfit and makes you feel good without overpowering your look.
Team up. It’s easier to face our fears when we’re not doing it alone. Team up with a pal, neighbour or relative who’s also changing careers by going to skills training courses together, volunteering at the same place to experience different types of work or working on your CVs over coffee or lunch.
Read a lot. We’re often frightened by what we don’t understand or know little about. Once we have more information on it, the element of mystery disappears and we’re less intimidated. Your fear of career change may well revolve around the fact that you’ve never changed careers before and don’t know what to expect, so read books and eBooks on what finding a new career entails.
Hire a guide. Having a career professional by our side can ease our nerves by giving us someone to talk our fears out with and get feedback from. A quality career guide or coach will really listen to us and help us pinpoint and rationalize our fears.
Accept mistakes happen. Even if you make mistakes in your career change, such as doing something in the job application process you should not have, it’s not the end of the world. Learn from mistakes and remember that you’re still evolving as a human, never mind as a job seeker.
Be yourself. Some of us make the mistake of thinking that to change careers we have to change who we are and the thought of that scares us rigid. In truth, the best way to find a new career that suits you is to be true to yourself and honest about what you’re best at and what you want to do.
If you’re frightened of moving forward, you’ll never move forward. Instead of thinking of career change as one big daunting journey, take it one step at a time. Complete each step of the process before moving onto the next one and you’ll soon be enjoying the journey of your life.
About the author
Nisa Chitakasem is founder of Position Ignition, the UK’s leading Career Consulting Company, and co-author of Make Your Career Change Happen: 96 Tips to a New Career. Nisa co-founded Position Ignition.com to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.