Many clients who are considering a career change share common concerns:
- what if I don’t like my new job as much as my current one?
- I can’t change if I don’t make as much money.
- what if I am not happier?
- what if changing jobs is the wrong decision?
Less fear in what you know
The problem is that they fear losing – losing financial security and stability, losing a familiar situation, etc. Some would say they are viewing the situation through the scarcity lens rather than through the lens of abundance. When looking for a new job or career, people fear that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This term is often termed loss aversion. No matter how unhappy my clients are, they are at least familiar with their situation and can identify what makes them happy and unhappy.
Risk of losing halts a career change
When they think about a new situation, the new situation is uncertain, undefined and unknown – it can be paralyzing! Some individuals would rather stay in an unhappy career situation where they feel comfortable and secure than risk a career change and potentially failing and losing that comfort and security. The thought of losing safety and security has a more powerful hold on them than the impact of gaining a more satisfying career. How do we address this?
Steps to address the fear
First, identify what you might be scared of losing. Put the ideas on paper. Put words to the fear. Define them. Second, now that they are on paper, what ideas are in your control and which ones are out of your control? Third, for the ones out of your control, brainstorm ways you can mitigate this risk.
For example, if you are unsure if you are going to like this new career path more than your current one, start researching the career and conduct several informational interviews to learn the ins and outs. Next evaluate the career based on your skills, values, interests, etc. Will this exercise mitigate all the risks of changing careers? Absolutely not. However, by doing the exercise, you can make a more thoughtful and strategic decision on your career path.
Push yourself for honest answers
Many individuals fear losing what they have or what they know. Ask yourself this question: “are you losing more by staying in a career that doesn’t make your happy?” Only you can answer this question in a way that is authentic to you and your specific life situation. Everyone has different demands on their time and money. If you are experiencing loss aversion and it is stopping your career change, it may be a good idea to periodically ask yourself this question and really reflect on the answer. Sometimes it will be a based on a fear of loss. Other times it will reflect your current reality at the time. Push yourself to answer honestly and identify what is holding you back.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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