We ran our latest career-focused event the other day: How to Get Unstuck & Take Control of Your Career, and as always, the commentary from the attendees was priceless. With over 300 registered and a great group in attendance, the chat stream was in full force. Note: if you want to view the replay, drop me a note.

Fear Dominates Our Thinking

At the onset of the event, I ask the question: “What emotion jumps to mind when you think about making a major career change?

The responses fell into two camps: fear and excitement, with fear-related answers winning the percentage battle in a landslide. Some of the more common themes include fear of failing, fear of going without income, imposter syndrome (fear they’ll be uncovered), fear of disappointing family members, and so forth.

But…These Gut Responses are False Fears

This is consistent with other events and with the feedback in many of my “Clarity Calls” for individuals thinking of joining my Career Reinvent Boot Camp. And, I understand the fear-response entirely to something that suggests a significant change in how and what we do to earn a living. There’s just one problem—these are false fears that keep people locked in place. As one person offered, “I’ve grown comfortable being miserable in my day job because I’m fearful of leaping to something new.

My counsel is: it’s time to stop being miserable and don’t leap, but rather design your next career step.

Instead of letting fear factors lock you into the gravitational pull of the present, it’s essential to give yourself permission to explore. Exploration is risk-free. You don’t have to buy or commit, but you have to learn and ultimately identify the options that meet your criteria.

How to Get the Fear and Risk Out

I work with individuals interested in making a significant career change, drawing upon my well-tested Career Reinvent Framework™, which emphasizes both learning and risk minimization.

The process guides individuals through the stages of self-discovery, exploration, and experimentation before down-selecting to a choice for their “next” in their careers. Each step in the process focuses on gaining clarity for abilities, interests, and opportunities. And ultimately, a decision on a direction reflects the criteria (including risk tolerance) critical to the individual. Once an individual has carefully narrowed the ideas down to one or two well-vetted ideas, part of the work is to complete a detailed risk assessment.

Instead of false fears that keep most people from exploring options, this process gets the risk out or at least strives to uncover real risks at each step.

A Hack to Help Take Out the Mind Trash

So, you can let fear keep you locked into something that’s not you at your best. You might even be miserable. Or, you can do what I recommend with my “Taking Out the Mind Trash” hack: write down on a sheet of paper all of those negative emotions that jump to mind when you think about making a significant career change, and then crumple the piece of paper and throw it out. Those emotions reflect false fears that have no place in a rigorous career pivot process.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

As Frank Herbert offers in the classic science fiction book, Dune, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Don’t let your instinctual reactions to the idea of making a career change keep you locked into something that no longer works for you, especially when you can get the risk out of the situation by using a deliberate process.

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For information on upcoming Career Reinvent Boot Camps visit our program page. 

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