This original piece was submitted to Project Bold Life by Tricia Manning.
Low pay, ineffective bosses and lack of work-life balance are just a few reasons why millions of people are dissatisfied with their jobs and contemplating a career change. According to a 2017 Gallup study, 85% of workers worldwide and 70% of workers in the US admit to hating their jobs. To many, they are on the hamster wheel of life, and just getting to the end of the day feels like a victory. The bottom line: people are making a choice to stay and feel unfulfilled in their work over their choice to leave and be happy.
There are many reasons that may keep you from making changes. And while they can vary based on age, gender, and where you are in your career, ultimately, fear is holding you back from getting out of your comfort zone and making changes.
Don’t Wait to Make Change
If fear is holding you back from making a bold change in your life and career, you are not alone. According to a University of Phoenix School of Business study of adult workers over 18 years old, 60% want to make a career change, yet 94% said fear and uncertainty are holding them back. The reality is that not everyone who wants to change careers will actually follow through with the decision to make the switch.
For many, a crisis—health, financial, relationship—forces change. Most taking action when the fear of losing time with family and living a joyful life is greater than the fear and self-doubt associated with making changes. However, fear doesn’t have to be the impetus to force the change that takes you out of your comfort zone. The fact is, you are never too young or too old to contemplate making changes. Anyone can get out of an unfulfilling situation—it just takes time. Making changes in your career is intentional and sometimes requires months of work—which can be one of the hardest hurdles to overcome and the first thing that slows you down from making changes.
Steps and Strategies to Making Changes
It can be tough to muster the mental energy to think about what needs to be done and the steps that need to be taken, let alone act on them. But these strategies can help you take the first steps:
1. Find The Capacity
Give yourself the space to let in new thinking. Think about those areas of your life that are draining your mental real estate. What worries or negative thoughts zap you, and if you cleared them, it would create the room you need to make a change?
Ask yourself what is the one thing that needs to be considered or resolved for you to progress? Clear this hurdle and move onto the next step. You aren’t eradicating your fears but lessening the amount of room you give them in your life.
2. Define Who You Want To Be
Get in tune with who you are when you are most happy and fulfilled. More times than not, we focus on what we need to improve or develop. Think about a time when you were operating at your best. What strengths and characteristics did you leverage effortlessly?
What characteristics do you value and how do you want to contribute? This personal self-reflection deepens self-learning by acknowledging when you felt most satisfied and clarifying what really matters to you personally. This helps you come from a position of strength, which is especially important when facing the fears associated with making changes. “Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction” by Laura Berman Fortgang is a helpful book to walk you through a deeper dive on this work.
Now that you have had time to reflect and gain a better sense of who you are and what you want, it’s time to act. This doesn’t mean it is time to walk into your boss’s office and quit your job. Maybe for some, this is an option, but more likely it is an opportunity to use your downtime wisely and start your side hustle… or a new job search.
What do you need to do to prepare for making changes? List these things and start acting on them. This work demonstrates your readiness for the change you want to make and allows you to combat your fears by achieving small milestones toward your goal.
While fear can be paralyzing, it can also be the necessary catalyst for change. Learning to manage it includes facing your fear, understanding it and being more intentional in coming up with your plan to overcome it.
Fear can create productive discomfort which in turn causes self-reflection. This, in turn, advances the learning and action needed in making changes in your life and career.
It is possible to face your fears and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Making changes with these small steps can help you find the meaning and happiness in your life—and career that you deserve.
About the Author
Tricia Manning is a certified Executive Coach with 25 years experience in corporate leadership positions having reached c-suite as only 1 of 2 female executives at the table. A highly regarded global practice leader, her unique background allows her to bring real-life expertise and understanding around talent, culture, and leadership to every client engagement. Tricia loves sharing her authentic views and experiences through her writing and is currently authoring her first book to be published by Forbes Books this Fall.