Have you noticed that you’re stalling out on your next career move because of fear? Try these three simple steps to break through your paralysis and get on your way.
(Note: These steps are meant to be applied to a situation where your fear is a mix of excitement, desire, and uncertainty. This type of fear is usually a sign that you’re on the right track. If your fear is full of dread and misery, you probably want to reconsider what you’re thinking about doing.)
1) Connect to Your Vision and Values
Imagine a hero at the beginning of a quest. He doesn’t know what’s in store for him during his journey. He’s likely frightened. But there’s a compelling enough reason, maybe his honor or his love, for him to set forth into the unknown to achieve his mission. That connection to the larger meaning of his quest is what empowers him to move through his fears.
You can use this technique too. Your values may not be as lofty as a hero’s, but connecting to your ‘why’ can still inspire you to get a move on. Take the time to ask yourself why your next career move matters to you. Which of your values are coming into play? Is it self-expression, making a difference, family, embracing a challenge, or something else? How will you, your loved ones, and the world benefit from your choice?
Write these ideas down and keep them present to motivate you to move through your fear.
2) Plan Safe Havens
Our hero is sure to get into a few scrapes and scuffles en route to his goal. You will too. We can’t know exactly what will happen at the onset, but we can take the time to plan some safe havens for you along the way.
Who (or where) can you go to for support if you start to falter? What can we put in place to mitigate your risk and make you feel more at ease with moving forward? How can we make sure you are well cared for as you’re pursuing your next big thing?
For example, you might build up a savings cushion to ease your transition or have a backup plan for part time work if your initial idea doesn’t come through as soon as you’d like. Or, you might take extra care to tend to your health during a big push. Consider your own risk tolerance and nature, and build a plan that works for you.
3) Take a Small Action
Our hero doesn’t make his whole journey in one day, and neither will you.
Start where you are. Connect to your values. Plan a safe haven for after you take your step. And take that first, small action that you see in front of you.
You don’t have to wait for your fear to go away to begin your journey. In fact, waiting until you feel totally ready is what will keep you paralyzed! Fear dissipates when you move through it. Use these three tips and begin your quest today.
What has helped you move through fear? Leave a comment below!
Is the fear of making a career change keeping you stuck?
Sign up for our career clarity training to feel clear and confident about your career path.
Click Here to Reserve Your Seat
Great article! I am stuck in a finance job that I hate and am thinking about becoming a full time real estate agent. However, I’m scared of the unsteady income, lack of experience, etc..
Thanks for your kind words about the piece BM! I’m curious as to whether or not you’ve spoken to more experienced realtors about how they manage unpredictable income and how they were able to get their start. If you haven’t done that, it’d be a good place to start. What other pieces can you put in place for yourself before you make the leap? For example, helping out a realtor for a few hours a week, reading about the industry, or taking a part-time job to ease with the transition. Good luck!
Thanks Alison! I think the part-time job to ease with the transition might be the best route to take. I appreciate your time and really look forward to reading your blogs every Tuesday.
You’re welcome! I adore updates, so keep me posted on how things are going.
Toby Robinson says
Hi Alison, I always love getting your news letters and stories about how to move through things such as fears. I have been stuck in a retail job since graduating from a Masters Degree last year, I have been to many job interviews and had many applications thrown back at me I keep almost giving up but I know I have to persist. I studied Interior Design but am now unsure if I really want to pursue that line of work. My biggest fear is finding a new line of work that I enjoy. I am quite ambitious and have never felt so stuck before as you know its quite frustrating. I guess I am moving through a fear now by persisting and trying to remain positive. I look forward to reading more of your blogs! Thank You
Hi Toby- I’m so pleased that you enjoy my newsletters and stories! Thanks for your support.
I read through what you wrote, and that does sound frustrating. I think you’ve got the right idea about persisting and doing your best to remain positive with your job search. You might also try asking for some help on your job search materials and strategy. Places to check are your alma mater’s career center, community agencies (many offer free resume review and guidance), or even just talking things over with a friend. http://www.prepary.com is one of my favorite job search tip websites, so you could check that out too. Sometimes little tweaks can make a big difference.
Regarding your other issue of being unsure of what you want to do, I’d recommend doing what you can to get out of your head (thinking about what you’d like) and instead dive into new, real world experiences to help you ascertain what areas are the best fit for you.
Good luck, and keep in touch!
Hi Alison and thanks for your reply.
I have since contacted the careers department of the university where I studied who are going to over look my resume and to talk about what options I have. I will also check out prepary.com. I think you are right with regards to ‘getting out my head’ I really related to your article when you said “because you don’t know what direction you are going to take every job in the world becomes a possibility”. This has generated a lot of noise in my thoughts, therefore making me feel even more stuck.
I am pursuing a few creative projects at the moment (music) with the help of The Artist Way which is bringing me back to Earth. I am journaling every morning also which is helping to get some clarity. I heard the other day to ask myself one question, what is it that I can not do? What can I help not to do? For me its music or comedy but have so much fear of being washed up! The creative industries are not notorious for being the most stable industries in the world! I look forward to reading more of your blogs and newsletters they are really helping.
That’s great Toby! Nicely done. Also, I’m glad that you’re giving yourself creative outlets.
I’m curious- have you gotten up at an open mic or found an opportunity to perform your music for a live audience?
There’s a truth to the idea that certain industries are harder and require more effort and sacrifice than others. But there’s also a fallacy in using big picture industry concerns to stall yourself out on taking the little step that’s right in front of you. Try something that moves you in the direction of what you think you want and see what happens. Do you have enough enthusiasm to continue on? If so, try something else and see what happens. Rinse and repeat. Taking a few small steps does not mean you’re committing your life to that career path. It just means you’re letting yourself explore.
I appreciate the update!
Again thanks for the reply, yes I have a band here in Melbourne Australia called The Promises. I do love song writing and absolutely love performing but realistically know that doing this as a career is hard work and financially not very rewarding at all. I like the idea to take smaller steps.
There’s always this push and pull with in me, on one side its a corporate identity wanting the security and prestige of a good job and on the other is creative. I hope that doesn’t sound too strange!
Are there any other forums that you have to talk about career moves and experiences and ideas you may have?
Thank you again
Yup, I definitely understand the push and pull of security vs. creativity! It’s not strange at all- a lot of people feel that tension.
You can check out my coaching programs on the coaching page of my website and set up a complimentary, half hour Get Acquainted Call via my online scheduler to begin the process of working with me at any point.
I just started to read your article today which I felt a lot better, my career is a hotel reservation agent. At moment I have this fear and challenge cannot see where is my next direction for career change. I have so much doubt on myself ability ever since I joint this company because over time eveyday. Right now I am thinking career change or going back to front office again but feel this is downgrading myself. Hoping to seek your expertise advice. Thank you
Hi Cin- I don’t know enough about your situation to give you specific advice. However, beginning a new position or advancing can frequently feel uncomfortable because there are new skills and responsibilities to gain competency with. It’s often just a matter of doing your best, being open to learning, and sticking with it until what was initially uncomfortable becomes more familiar. Hope that helps!
Hi, I can relate to Toby’s the push and pull of security vs. creativity in me..It is not strange but it is hard to decide when you have the tension and I have it which is has become one of the factors why I coudnt decide my degree choice.BTW,I love your blog and articles about career direction,very helpful.Thank you.
Thanks for your kind words dp. It’s lovely to hear that my work is resonating with you!