Why We Fear Changing Jobs – and How To

  |   Patricia Tiernan

As a Career Coach, I often work with clients who feel extremely miserable because they hate their jobs but fear changing them. When asked how long they have been feeling this way typically they reply a few years!!! The knock on impact of staying in a job we hate often has severe repercussions on our health, relationships and even changes our innate personality. So why does the average person take two to three years to change their job if they hate it so much and what can motivate them to move?

As a general rule, we are all a bit risk-averse. Our mind evolved to spot danger and when we look to make a change it will start lining up all the risks involved to try to keep us safe by sticking with what we know which in turn can keep us stuck.The more trapped we feel the more miserable we get. It’s a vicious circle.

5 Perceived Risks and How To Overcome Them:


“If I was younger and didn’t have a mortgage and other financial commitments I would move job tomorrow. The risks are too great to gamble a permanent, pensionable job. I wouldn’t get the salary I am on now if I left. What if I left and it didn’t work out where would I be then?”.

Before dismissing changing face the fears that are bubbling up inside. Are they 100% true? We place so much importance on salary but research shows that continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness. I have worked with many clients who have taken the risk of working in a job with less salary only to find that their increased happiness is worth its weight in gold.

  • What is the minimum budget you need to have a reasonable lifestyle?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if you changed your job? Can you withstand that? Is there anything you can do to support this from not happening?
  • What is the best thing that could happen if you changed your job? Can you withstand that? What can you do to support this to happen?
  • What is most likely to happen if you changed your job? Is there anything you can do to affect the outcome?


“Having built up trust with my employer I have flexible part-time hours and my office is near the crèche. I don’t want to lose out on time with my kids and have the burden of managing our home in less time”.

Find out which organisations have a family-friendly culture, negotiate fewer hours at offer stage.The world of work is changing, a flexible revolution is brewing and career businesses are cropping up to support this shift in demand. Sign up to recruitment businesses that specialise in this area such as:

3. Self-Confidence

“My confidence levels are at an all-time low from working in a job that doesn’t match my skill set or personality and with a manager who puts me down. I want to leave but what if I really am not good enough to do much else?”.

Working in a role that is a good fit helps build your self-confidence. Working with people you respect and who value you helps build your sense of self. Gaining work that you are suited to can literally be life-changing. Life is too short to spend it in a job you hate.

  • What strengths would you like to use at work?
  • How might leaving your job positively affect your self-confidence?
  • What are the downsides if you don’t take the risk?
  • What is a small risk you could take today, which would help you build your risk-taking confidence?

4. Job-Market

“The job market where I live is extremely limited and my role is really niche. If I knew what I was passionate about I would change jobs but I don’t so I don’t see the point in leaving.”

How will you know what you are interested in unless you try new things? Why limit yourself? Skills are transferable, new skills can be learned. The world of work is changing faster than it ever has before how might you like your career evolve on foot of that.

  • What are you interested in?
  • When was the last time you chose to learn out of interest or to help advance your career?
  • Who might be good contacts to talk to about potential career avenues?
  • When you look back on your life, what choice would you have wanted to make at this point?

5. Starting From The Bottom of the Career Ladder

You don’t have to change your whole career because you hate your current job. It can be much easier to change jobs within the same company or to ask for additional responsibilities within your current role. Instead of walking away from all that you have learnt you can bring this learning to a new employer. Taking smaller steps can lower the risk and support you to make a change sooner. What’s important is to start taking steps whether big or small. So what are you waiting for?

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes backbone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

Patricia Tiernan is a Career and Life Coach and founder of Leap Coaching which specialises in boosting career fulfilment. She runs a targeted Career Coaching Programme that supports people to overcome their fears and make meaningful change.