You Deserve More: Changing Careers Despite Fear

The most overwhelming obstacle people tend to deal with when considering changing careers is fear. Fear of the unknown, of failing, of winding up in a worse situation than the one you’re currently in – they all cause people to hesitate or even stop them from progressing. But since you spend at least a quarter of your life at work, you deserve to have a career you enjoy and something that brings you fulfilment. Today, we’re discussing how to handle fear when it comes to changing careers.

You Deserve More: Changing Careers Despite Fear

Your fears got your paralysed.  Do you take the leap to a new career or stay miserable in your current one?  

You don’t feel the passion for your current career anymore.  You dread Monday mornings. You don’t feel you’re working to your full potential at your job.  You want more out of your career.

But the thought of starting over again makes your stomach flip flop.  You’re not sure if you have what it takes.You’re afraid of what you can’t see. Maybe, you think, it’s better to stay put?

If this is you, know you’re not alone. Career changes are scary. In fact, the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale found through research that career changes are one of the top 20 most stressful things that can happen in your life, just ahead of the death of a close friend.

Why is this such a scary thing for many of us? There are many reasons, but here are some of the more common ones.

The fear of the unknown.  It can be scary to not know exactly what will happen if you change your career.  

It takes great effort to change careers. When you think of revising your resume, looking for new jobs, going back to school, or expanding your network, it can be overwhelming.

It takes a firm commitment.  To change careers requires you to fully commit to it. It won’t happen if you wish and wait for it. Instead, it requires you togo for it.

It may require you to redefine yourself. Leaving the sense of security with who you are to reinvent yourself fora new career is scary.

The fear of failure.  It may not work out the way you want.  It may go horribly wrong.You’re not sure how it will work out.

The fear of regret.  What if you make the wrong move?  What if you don’t make a move and regret it for the rest of your life?

But here’s the thing – staying stuck won’t help. Remaining where you are is more detrimental than making a choice.  You’re using energy on your fears, but not going anywhere. You’re spending hours thinking about the move but not moving.  This limbo you’re in solves nothing.  

Here’s how to consider a career change amid your fears.

Face your fears

The first thing you must do is be honest with yourself about the reasons you’re afraid to consider a career change.  Make a list of all of the things that scare you – from the normal to the outrageous. Set a timer and write until you’ve listed everything.

Next, review the list and remove those things over which you have no control. Don’t spend your time worrying about the things that are out of your reach.  Instead, focus on those things you can change. For those things which are left on the list, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Make a list of those things.  Of the things on that list, can you make a plan to avoid them? If not, will you be able to survive them?

Now, ask yourself, “What’s the best that can happen?” It’s important to not only think through what can go wrong, but to think through what can go right.  Once you’ve made this list and thought through possible outcomes, you’re now prepared to face your fears. You’ve contemplated the best and the worst that can happen and have made plans for each; therefore, charting your course to success either way.

Make the commitment to figure it out

You may not know how your career change will turn out just yet, but you should commit to yourself that you’re going to figure it out no matter what.  If you want a career you love, you need to commit to figuring out how to make it happen.

See, this commitment helps you navigate your career journey. It helps you push past fears and work past them.  It helps you throw out excuses that have been holding you back. It helps you leave your comfort zone. It helps you figure out when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to opportunities. It helps you try new things and new approaches.  And believe it or not, making a commitment can help stop you from complaining.

Instead of telling yourself, “I hate my job, why am I here,” you can tell yourself,“I’ve committed that I’m going to figure out my next step so that I can move from this job that is no longer a fit for my life.”

Get support

Making a career change without support can be hard. Trying to decide your next step and execute it by yourself can put your fear into overdrive.  Know that you don’t have to do this alone. Here are three types of support you can enlist to help you:

Accountability partner.  An accountability partner is someone you trust who can help keep you on track.  They are there to help you reach success by keeping you accountable with your goals. Great accountability partners are your cheerleaders when you’re on track and encouragers when you fall off track. Ideally, you should feel comfortable telling this person all of your challenges and letting them help you through them.

Personal Board of Directors. This should be a small group of 4-5 people who you respect and trust.  This is a diverse group of people made up of those who know you well, professional advisors, and people whose profession you admire. These people should have the knowledge and insight to help you move forward.

CareerCoach.  A career coach is a professional who can guide you during your career transition.  Serving as a champion, career coaches are supportive, but also hold you accountable by ensuring you take action to bring about the changes you want. Career coaches help you maximize your potential to grow and develop to reach your true capability.


It’s ok to be fearful when considering a career change.  The key is not to stay paralysed in fear, but to face your fears so that you can move forward.  By making the commitment to figure it out and getting the right support behind you, you won’t fail when it comes time to making the decision that’s best for you.