3 Important Questions You Need to Answer Before Changing Career


Let me guess, one of your main concerns about changing career or making any change is the chance of it not working out.

Fear of failure is very real. With concerns about finance, experience as well as what friends, family, colleagues and the rest of society might think, the pressure to make the “right” decision can be immense.

If you’ve invested years of your life training in your respective field and building a career, it can be very scary to leave that all behind and pursue something new. After all, how do you know that you do not just have a case of “grass is greener” syndrome and that after a few years in your new career you won’t find yourself back in the same position?

No-one likes rejection

I’ve been reading a book recently that talks a lot about getting comfortable with “no”. It points out that too many people do not take actions that they know will move them closer to where they want to be because they are scared of someone telling them no. I’m guessing you are no different, otherwise you wouldn’t still be in a job or career (or any other situation) that is making you unhappy.

We don’t like to be told no because we don’t like feeling rejected. I am no different. However the author of this book points out that without no, yes would not exist, so actually we must get used to being told no, in order to create the possibility of a yes.

The problem is, that for many of us, each “no” feels like a physical wound. We take it personally and use that as feedback to define who we are. We then tell ourselves that we’re not good enough and that we’ve failed.

“Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.” ~ Frederick Smith

This made me think about you and what might be stopping you from changing career. Making a wrong choice is similar to a no. It’s means something hasn’t worked out the way you had hoped or planned.

Changing career (or any situation really) requires you to take a risk. It can require you to go against the status quo, it often requires you to take a leap without knowing what the outcome will be and it means accepting the possibility of things not working out.

I know how scary it can be because I’ve been there. I had to make a choice whether or not to take voluntary redundancy in the heart of a recession to pursue a career that I would find much more rewarding.

Following your heart’s desire

So many of us put off following our heart’s desires because we are too scared and so instead we wake up each morning dreading the day ahead. We feel uninspired and demotivated.

Following my heart’s desires has been far from easy, and a lot of my choices go against society’s view of what a single, 30 something, university educated female living in London should be doing with her career. In fact, 5 years later, some of my friends and family still don’t get some of the choices I’ve made. However I can honestly say, as cliche as it might sound, that it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Yes, I’ve had to make sacrifices and yes, my priorities have changed, however I am probably one of the happiest, most optimistic people I know, and I know this is because I am now doing what feels right for me.

Here are 3 important questions you need to answer before deciding to change job or career that can help to reduce your fear:

1. Do I really know what it’s like to work in a different career?

Fear is based on the unknown therefore it is essential that you do extensive research into the career you are considering. I recommend all my clients do work experience, work shadowing and volunteering. If you find it difficult to find these opportunities, then you need to consider what finding paid work as a “newbie” will be like. Talk to people already doing the job or working in the industry. Even if it’s something you do as a hobby and absolutely love, you need to simulate doing it for money and see if you would still enjoy it.

I did voluntary work for almost 2 years whilst I was still at my full time job and then continued doing a range of voluntary roles after taking redundancy. I also took a really low paid job in my desired field which as it turns out led me to focus my coaching on careers. I absolutely love baking and people often say I should sell the stuff I make, however after training for a pastry chef qualification, I know that working in a kitchen under pressure is not for me.

2. Am I suffering from “grass is greener” syndrome?

This is requires you to “dig deep”. You really need to understand your motivation for wanting to change your job or career and the real source of your dissatisfaction. You also need to be honest with yourself. I have worked with clients in the past who initially thought that they wanted to change career, but after a number of coaching sessions, we identified that she actually really liked what she did but previous experiences had left her feeling cautious about being herself at work.

For me, I always knew that I was in the wrong sector. I worked in IT, I had absolutely no interest in technology and I wasn’t making a positive difference to people – which is important to me. This is why it is paramount that you identify your core values to ensure the work you do, aligns with them. I do however still do use many of my project management skills today, and it’s always good to have friends who know a thing or two about a laptop that is not doing what it’s supposed to!

3. What if I make the “wrong” decision?

So what if you do? No, seriously I mean it. What is the worst that would happen if you made the worst decision in your life and it didn’t work out? How would you feel? What would you do? What would be the consequences? Worst still, what would people say or think of you? Who would be saying “I told you so!”? It is important that you seriously consider the answer to these questions.

Once you have thought about the answers, there will be less fear of the unknown as you will have already thought about possible scenarios. You can then create a contingency plan.

I worked out the minimum I could live on each month and identified ways that I could reduce my outgoings. I also ensured that I kept my skills up to date. Doing your research should also help you to minimise the risk of making the “wrong” decision.

I will say however that I have learnt that sometimes a “wrong” decision can sometimes be the best thing that can happen to you and sometimes one person telling you “no” can lead you to what you actually needed, rather than what you thought you wanted. It just depends on how you look at things. Then again, I am a strong believer in the saying “everything happens for a reason”.

Someone once told me to “follow the breadcrumbs” and life will show the way. Your breadcrumbs are your heart’s desires and your intuition. I’m learning more and more each day to trust and follow mine and I hope you do the same.

Over to You

What is your main fear/concern about changing your job or career?

What is the worst that would happen if your career change didn’t work out?

Until next time,

Be fearless, be authentic, be unapologetic! 


About Leanne

Freelance blogger, qualified careers adviser, and certified life coach. Passionate about empowering women and young people to create a career & life they love.

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