Trying new things can be scary, especially if you are doing them by yourself or you don’t like change. I recently read a statistic which said that 1 in 3 people would avoid change if they could. No wonder trying new things can feel terrifying and potentially painful. If you are resistant to change, I completely relate, and you are obviously not alone.
We aren’t taught to try new things especially when it comes to our career. From early ages, we ask young kids the daunting question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That question continues throughout adolescence and we somehow expect a 17- or 18-year-old to know what they want to do for the rest of their life. It’s a lot of pressure for young people to feel that way but also not necessarily realistic.
I grew up in a household where I started working at age 14 and I never really stopped to figure out what I liked or disliked. I was just focused on graduating high school, juggling my part-time job while in college and then ultimately getting a job after graduation so I could support myself. My parents worked in the same jobs almost my entire life with the exception of my mom who was forced into a new career path after being laid off later in her career (during the 2008 recession) and struggling to get a new job. Their generation was taught to be loyal and dedicated to your career, marriage, etc. no matter what.
Many times in life when we make a career change, it’s connected to another big change in our lives. I guarantee that my decision to walk away from my long-term relationship is not unrelated to my decision to change careers a few years later. Sometimes life shakes you in ways that are completely unexpected and there is no choice but to change who you are and that ultimately impacts all aspects of your life, including your career.
Choosing to change my career was really scary. I had a stable job and was on a great trajectory but after working in the insurance industry for almost 20 years, I could no longer ignore the voice inside of me telling me that I needed to try something new.
After many months of exploring and searching, I decided that I wanted to move into non-profit. When I started telling people about my career change, many were supportive but I also received push back. People questioned if I should make the financial sacrifice (because unfortunately this is the case) or if I really wanted to throw in the towel on a career that I had spent many late nights and weekends building. It was hard but I knew I had to.
Getting the courage to make the change was the first hurdle and then figuring out what was next came after that. Many times in life the best way to figure out your next move whether it be in your career or personal life is to try something different and to be ok with that.
Giving yourself permission to even think about a change can be hard especially when so many times we hear constant messages from friends, family and society that we should just keep doing what we are doing.
While trying new things can be scary, it can also be empowering and really refreshing. If you are at the point of knowing you need to change your career, start with small ways of exploring. Find stories of people who have made a big change (could be in life or their career) to get the courage to even start thinking about a change. I would also start informational interviewing and talking with people about their careers. Both of these are important because hearing other people’s success stories will give you the motivation to keep going and the conversations will help you get clarity. If you have the time and ability to do a job shadow to see the actual day to day of a job, that would be ideal but it's not always feasible.
If you are still struggling or you need some support, consider if a career coach is right for you. My job as a career coach is not only to help guide you to clarity around your next career move but to also keep you moving towards your change. It’s so much easier to not change and sometimes that inertia is where people get stuck. Having a career coach there as your cheerleader throughout your journey can be incredibly helpful especially if you are like me and you highly dislike change.
Please reach out if you would like to chat about my journey or if you would like to see if working together is right for you.