Is fear stopping you from making a change in your career?

Updated: Apr 15


Have you been thinking of making a change in your career, but something is stopping you from actually doing it? There are a range of reasons for this, and fear of the unknown is often top of the list. Read on to learn how you can diminish your fear and replace it with confidence!


Based on conversations with clients, friends and family and on my own experience, ‘fear of the unknown’ is the most common reason to put off your career change. It sounds scary, doesn’t it? What’s out there?


Then when we start to explore this, it becomes clear that it’s not fear of ‘the unknown’ but fear of known, tangible things that can be addressed.


If this is you, here are some things you can do to help you overcome your fears and feel more confident about making the change you dream of.


Fear of the unknown usually breaks down into these areas:


The time is not right to make a change in my career


This is perfectly valid, there can be many reasons why it’s not the right time to make a change. The key thing is to explore why now isn’t the right time now, when will be the right time and what needs to happen to make it the right time?


Having a clear vision of this, and a Career Development Plan with goals and timetabled actions will enable you to make it happen when the time is right (because you really don’t want to be thinking the same thing in 1 / 3 / 5 years’ time, right?)


I don’t want to risk the financial security I have now


Another valid point. Most of us need to earn a salary to pay our bills and enjoy life, and the thought of losing some of that is not easy. Questions I usually encourage people to explore include:


  • Why would you have to risk your financial security? Often people simply lack the confidence that they’ll be able to earn the same if they move. When actually, it’s more common to receive a pay increase when you move roles if you’re staying within the same role.

  • If it is likely that you’ll need to take a reduction in salary, say if you’re making a complete change in what you do, how can you prepare for that? Are you clear on how much you do need to earn? Where can you reduce your outgoings? What can you put in place now and over the coming months to enable you to achieve your goal?

Most people I work with can make changes that enable them to reduce their cost of living. From downsizing your mortgage to cutting out takeaways, every action you can take will move you closer to your goal.


I don’t have the skills and knowledge needed to make the change


Yet! You don’t have the skills and knowledge needed to make the change, yet! If you’re serious about making a change that requires new skills and / or knowledge – how can you get them? From broadening your experience through projects and secondments while in your current role, from gaining a new qualification, these things can be included within your career change plan.



Also do some research into how much of a skills / knowledge gap you really have. I’ve known people be convinced they need to gain a new qualification and when they start to really look into it, they find a way to make the change without the time and cost of the qualification.


I’m sure I have transferable skills to enable me to make the move but I don’t know how to tell employers about them


This is actually a fairly easy one! Look at job ads for your ideal role – what skills are they looking for? Then spend some time thinking about when you’ve used these skills. Write down as many examples as you can remember.


You can also ask other people, for example your manager, colleagues, friends and family who understand what you do. Often others see things we don’t even think about.


Then break each example down into these steps:

  • What was the business challenge or opportunity?

  • What action did you take? (Using the skills required)

  • What was the result? The benefits to the business, its customers, it employees?

Then you can create a CV that showcases your skills and achievements.


I'm not confident I can make the career change I want


One of the best ways I know to increase your career confidence is through understanding your strengths. When we really know what we’re great at AND what energises us, we’re able to see how we have used our strengths to perform at our best, and how we can use them to achieve our goals.


It’s an extremely powerful and motivating thing, sparking ideas and creating lightbulb moments.


If you’d love to start exploring your strengths you can complete a free Starter Profile here, and if you want a more indepth exploration I offer two different strengths profile coaching options.


I don’t know what I want to do


My blog: How to change your career when you don’t know what to do, talks through how you can discover what you want to do.


Do you now feel more confident you can make the change in your career you're dreaming of?


If you'd love some support to enable you to make your career change, check out my career confidence coaching services.


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About Karen Felton

Karen is a Leadership Career mentor and coach, enabling leaders make the change they dream of in their career.

Karen Felton Leadership career mentor and coach

She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.


Read more about Karen here.



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