What’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to stir up feelings of dread and unease in the average person? Change. Changing jobs is no different. It’s a daunting prospect, no matter how necessary it may be. After all, there are so many unknowns that come with taking on a new role, from potentially not clicking with your boss to having to win trust again, and learn new skills, systems or processes.
But why do we fear changing jobs so much that it keeps us stuck in one we dislike? Well, it largely comes down to the fact that our brain likes to keep us safe in our comfort zone so that we don’t get humiliated in any way. There’s the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and that can be scary. Our brains value certainty and routines, so the idea of uprooting ourselves and moving to a new place of work can be incredibly daunting.
Will we be able to fit in? Will our new boss be understanding? Will we be able to handle the workload? Will we have enough flexibility to be able to honour other commitments? These are all valid questions and it’s normal to have some anxiety about them.
This fear isn’t unfounded either – it takes an average of six months to adjust to a new role. Having the fear of changing jobs is a natural feeling often experienced by many, but it is important to recognize that it is only temporary and can be overcome with the right mindset tools.
Whether you are considering a career change or just looking for a job that better suits your skills and aspirations, these tools can help you make a career change.
1. Acknowledge Your Fears
The first step to overcoming your fear of changing jobs is to acknowledge and accept your fears. It is normal to feel anxious or scared about making a big change in your life, especially when it involves something as important as your career. Name your fears and examine why they exist. Identify what assumptions are being made. Are there any beliefs that are holding you back? What facts do you need to uncover? What is the worst that could happen? What could you do to ensure that does not happen?
2. Create a Positive Outlook
Once you have accepted your fears, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of changing jobs. Think of all the potential pluses of changing a job. What is it that would make work more fulfilling for you? A positive outlook can help you focus on the potential rewards and minimize the fear of the unknown. What is the best that could happen and how could you support that to happen? You have to want it more than you are afraid of it.
3. Set Goals
Setting goals can help give you direction and clarity when it comes to making a change. Having a clear idea of where you want to go, and what you want to achieve, can help make the decision to change easier. Break down all the tasks you need to complete such as clarifying what you want, researching, networking, side project etc. and calendar them into your diary. Reward yourself for meeting goals along the way.
4. Identify Your Strengths
Identifying and acknowledging your strengths can help boost your confidence and give you the courage to make the move. Knowing where you excel can help you focus on the areas where you can thrive in your new job. Make a list of the skills and experiences you already possess that will help you succeed in your new role and at finding a more fulfilling role.
5. Visualise Success
Visualizing success in the new job can help you to focus on the positive outcomes that could result from the change. Seeing yourself in the new role, and picturing yourself succeeding can help to reduce fear and anxiety. What can you see, hear, smell, and touch when you are in your new role? What does that feel like? Create a vision board of what you seek and keep it somewhere as a daily reminder.
6. Develop a Support Network
Having a support system of people who understand your situation and can offer guidance and advice can be invaluable. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, and professionals within your field to build a network of support from people who have your best interests in mind. In particular, reach out to people who may be able to support you to understand how to break into a role of interest to you.
7. Practice Self-care
The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Getting regular exercise, or practising mindfulness can help you focus on the present moment and let go of any worries for a moment. Find time each day to practice deep breathing, meditation, walking, running or yoga to help you remain calm and focused.
8. Adapt a Growth Mindset
The concept of a growth mindset emphasizes the idea that abilities can be developed and improved. We can grow and develop our skill set. By using a growth mindset, you can shift your mindset to focus on your ability to learn, develop and hone skills.
Fear can be an overwhelming emotion, and it is important to be gentle and understanding with yourself. Remind yourself that it is normal to feel fear. Question whether it’s the uncertainty or a fear that is holding you back. You can take small steps to ease into the transition and face your fears or help makes things feel more certain. Acknowledge that fear is a normal human emotion, and be patient and understanding with yourself. Think of the millions of people right now experiencing similar fear.
It can be helpful to practice curiosity in order to overcome the fear of changing jobs. Try to look at the situation with fresh eyes and an open mind. Ask questions and explore different possibilities. Follow the breadcrumbs of what brings you joy. Look for opportunities to see trends and to join the dots of possibilities. Be curious about your next chapter in life and all that is possible.