Face Your Fears
Confidence is critical, but when you are experiencing problems at work and want to change your career it is common to temporarily misplace your belief in yourself. Sometimes, just when you most need it, your confidence is at an all-time low. The key here is to recognise the sources of these issues and then actively use strategies that will help you move past them.
Many people feel some fear when they consider changing their career. No, you are not alone. If you’ve had the same job for many years making a change can be very stressful. Making a big career change that involves study can mean an even greater level of fear. Again this is not uncommon. Fear of the unknown is natural.
I remember feeling a combination of terror and elation when I enrolled in the course that changed my career direction. All the usual fears almost engulfed me and caused me to give up before I began. Would I still be capable of doing well in assignments? Would I start the course and not be able to continue? Would everyone else think I was a fool for taking steps to change my career at 50?
One of the biggest fears many people face is the fear of failure. When you start talking about changing your career some of your friends and family members may discourage you. With the best, but misguided, intentions they may reinforce the fear you are already feeling. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they are probably trying to protect you in case you don’t get the job you want or can’t succeed in the business you are creating. Don’t let their concerns get you down. Make up your own mind, and be aware that change will only happen if you are prepared to step forward and take a few chances.
There are two things to remember here. Being afraid is a natural reaction, particularly when you are treading in unfamiliar territory, and even the most confident person has moments of doubts and fears when faced with a new challenge. Also remember that problems create problems. If things are going badly at home or work it is difficult to get yourself into the positive frame of mind which supports a confident career change. If your family life is stressful, or you are engulfed in financial woes, your stress levels may worsen and you are more likely to be depressed than enthusiastic.
Work stresses are often out of your control
If your job description changes or your boss makes demands you feel unable to meet, you may feel under undue pressure. Poor management can often contribute to employees’ dissatisfaction and stress. Stress can magnify if you have a serious disagreement with a work colleague, if your job skills are no longer enough to handle the work you are required to perform or if the culture at your workplace takes a turn for the worse. Tension at work is an unhealthy situation. Your productivity will suffer. Your health is likely to suffer. Your employer is not getting the best from you, and the cycle goes on.
Sadly, a bad work atmosphere usually only gets worse; people talk about you, or you feel that they are doing so, and everything becomes toxic. People who are struggling for one reason or another will find making a career change far more difficult than those in a happy state of mind. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you may need extra help making your career change if you are not feeling on top of life.
Downsizing can be dangerous
When a business gets into trouble jobs are often the first thing to go. If your position is to be made redundant you experience the emotion and complications of losing your job. However, sometimes it’s actually worse for those who retain their job because it usually means a much larger workload for fewer employees. You may find yourself picking up the workload of the retrenched employees. Your stress and dissatisfaction at work are now compounded, but it probably isn’t a good time to even think about making your own career change.
In a situation like this patience is required! Take the time to appreciate that you were not one of those who lost their job, that you can now assess the situation objectively and make your move when the time is right. Don’t give up on your dreams of changing your career, but perhaps bide your time a little until the job market is a little stronger.
As we get older sometimes we find ourselves working with people who are many years younger. Whilst this shouldn’t be a problem, often generational differences cause problems at work and mature aged workers, finding themselves working alongside, or for, colleagues who are half their age, can feel threatened. Confidence, self-esteem, all those things you thought you had sorted out years ago, are suddenly in danger of erosion. There is no easy answer to this issue beyond making sure that you are doing your job to the best of your ability, while remaining open to new ways of doing things.
Thinking about failure not success
Your attitude to changing your career will have a great impact on its success. For this reason those negative thoughts must be managed. However you can’t just ignore things that worry you. You need to separate the real from the unreal. Sometimes this could simply mean changing your perception of certain issues, then finding a practical solution to manage them.
Try this strategy. Sit quietly and ask yourself:
- What are the advantages of changing your career?
- What’s the worst thing that might happen?
Jot down every thought that comes up in response to these questions. Add a third section on your notes where you can also list random thoughts, which may come up but do not answer any of the questions. Usually, they contain clues to how your subconscious mind is influencing your current thinking. If there is a trusted person you can discuss this with, it would be helpful.
You may find that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. You may find that the worst things really don’t seem too bad. Alternatively, you may have come up with another way of thinking about the whole decision. Taking the time to reflect will help you recognize the reality of your situation and prepare you for a number of possible outcomes.
You can’t anticipate everything but you are giving yourself a good chance of being prepared for possible problems. With information laid out in front of you, trust your instinct. You may get a feeling that this is possible, or it may feel that you still need time to do more research and preparation.
Listen to the combination of your logical evaluation of the situation and your instinctive feelings, and remember that decisions don’t come with a guarantee. If you weigh up the pros and the cons and arm yourself with all the information you need to make a serious and sensible decision, you will replace your fear with optimism. Your confidence will grow.
Fear can be used for good
Everyone has fears. Smart people use their fear as a prompt or reminder that they need to work hard, work smart and take calculated risks. If you want to be in control of your life, if you want to make a career change and be successful, you need to be proactive. Use your fear to kick start your determination. Franklin Roosevelt was right when he said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Acknowledge your fears but don’t let them stop you.
You may like to read the other blog posts in this series: