In Career Articles & Resources

When you find yourself stuck in a job that isn’t fulfilling it can be challenging to take the leap into changing careers.  Here are some of the ways you might be holding yourself back.

Internal Blocks to Changing Careers

If you’ve ever thought, “It’s all in my head.” that may be true, but it doesn’t make it any less real. Sometimes your biggest hurdle before you can change is yourself.  The first step can be as simple as looking honestly at your past and personal struggles. 

Past Experiences

We are the sum of our experiences. When you are moving into a new career, there’s often a reason.  If part of that reason is dissatisfaction with previous bosses or companies, you may need to spend some time working through any issues or trauma you have surrounding those experiences.  When you’re entering a new field with new people you don’t want to unconsciously be recreating bad situations from the past.  

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

You’ve spent years working to get where you are. You’ve built networks, learned skills, and gained recognition for your work.  All that work can lead you to believe that you should keep going with what you’ve been doing even if it’s unfulfilling.  The sunk cost fallacy is an economic and psychological reality that people have the tendency to throw good money after bad. 

Have you invested heavily in a career that isn’t working for you and isn’t giving back?  Then it’s time to cut your losses and move on.   

Imposter Syndrome

When you’re manifesting your best self it can be easy to fall prey to imposter syndrome. It’s common to feel like you’re just pretending to be the person you say you are, even when you’ve done the work and put the time in. This feeling can be even more challenging when you’re just beginning a new kind of work. 

When you’re looking for employment in a new career field remember that you’re more than the skills you lack.  Focus on where you’re going, on the skills you’ve gained, your drive to learn new things, and your vision for who are becoming.  

Related: Word is NOT a Skill: Skills You Should NOT Include on Your Resume

External Blocks to Changing Careers

While some of your blocks to moving on may be internal, others are likely to be rooted in your environment.  You should also examine your external challenges, and make a plan to overcome them. 

Related: How to Successfully Change Careers Later In Life

Cash Flow

Experts say that before you make the leap into a new job you should have at least six month’s expenses saved.  If this is possible for you, then, by all means, do so.  Each latte you skip and every dollar you save should make you proud.  However, not everyone has that luxury.  If you’re looking at changing careers without that kind of financial padding it’s still possible. 

Focus on your goals.  It is important to look honestly at your time and resources. For a while, you may need to say no to volunteer work or work that doesn’t align with your chosen career path.  Don’t spend too much time worrying about money, when you’re in worry mode you’re not building new skills or taking action.  Put a financial plan in place as best as you can, then focus on doing work that aligns with your goals.  If you’re underemployed or unemployed, take that time to build your skills and do volunteer work in your chosen field. 

Lack of Support

The people around you matter.  If you don’t have mentors or guides in your new career it may be worthwhile to try and find some.  Are your friends supportive of your new leap? Make sure to focus on friendships, relationships, and people who are working toward their own goals and are supportive of yours. 

Related: The Value of Having a Business Mentor

This can take time and feel destabilizing just when you want some aspect of your life to remain constant. Focusing on creating a positive support network can be a crucial element in your future success. Surround yourself with people who help you succeed.  

Lack of Knowledge

This challenge is inevitable when pursuing a new vocation. You simply won’t have all the skills you need. You will need to spend time researching what you want your new career to be, what skills you will need to learn, how your resume should look, and what is expected of employees. If you want to be a freelancer or consultant you will need to understand how those systems, what forms and licenses you may need, and what courses of study you will need to complete. 

Moving Forward With Your Goals 

Once you’ve honestly assessed your internal and external challenges, researched your new career, and made some choices to be well informed and prepared, it’s time to start implementing your plan. How do you go about such a big project?

Build on Your Best Self

Focus on what you already have.  What are you good at? Build on your best traits and skills.  Think creatively about how you can use what you’ve already done to get where you want to go.  Have you done volunteer work, internships, or passion projects in your chosen field?  Look at what draws you to your vocation and see where that overlaps with skill sets needed in your new career. 

Work Incrementally

Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Well, neither is a big life change.  Any new habit takes at least 60 days to form, and new skills take time to learn.  Set aside time every day to work on your goals and assess where you’re at. It’s more useful to take twenty minutes every day to learn new skills than to spend one weekend cramming and then forgetting about it for months.

If your goals seem overwhelming, break them into smaller bits. In educational parlance, this is called “chunking” and it just means that our brains can only handle so much new information at once.  By learning or doing little bits at a time, you actually get farther.  It’s a little counterintuitive but is sound theoretical practice. 

Keep At It 

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time”. ~ Thomas Edison

Finding a new job is vulnerable.  Writing a resume is making an advertisement for yourself and putting yourself out there for rejection. It’s easy to take one “no” as the end of all hope. The challenge here is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving.  Anyone who has ridden horses will tell you that if you’re thrown and end up in the dirt the very first thing you must do is get back on that horse.  If you don’t, you’ll learn to fear the horse.  Fear is the thing that stops us from trying until we get it right.  Keep improving and putting yourself out there and eventually, you will achieve your goals and land the job you’re looking for. 

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