The 5 Myths about Changing Careers…And Why You Should Ignore Them

by Ginny Williams

By the time clients hire me their desire to change careers has usually been simmering for awhile.  They are mentally ready to move on, and yet actually making the move feels overwhelming and unreachable.

I went through this same process when I left the corporate world and became a coach. As motivated as I was to change careers I still had many moments of self-doubt. An irritating little voice challenged my desire, using the same words I now hear from clients:

  • I’m too old to change careers
  • I’ll have to go to back to school
  • I can’t afford to leave my salary and benefits
  • I’ll have to start over from the bottom
  • Jobs aren’t supposed to be enjoyable, that’s why they call it work

These are all myths.

These are beliefs, assumptions and excuses but most of all, they are fears. Fear is a form of protection and these myths are the stories we tell ourselves to protect us from our fear of failing.  And, ironically, believing these statements can actually cause you harm by paralyzing you into not taking action at all.

Here’s the thing. You believe these myths because you probably hear them all the time. If you are surrounded by co-workers, friends or family who are just as unhappy about their fate in life, herd mentality can develop.

So, you need to recognize the difference between fear that is designed to save you from imminent danger and fear that becomes an obstacle to your growth.

Please check your soul at the door.

Even when you know you want to make a move, knowing which move to make can seem elusive. Why? Because after years of adapting to work that no longer suits you, you may have forgotten who you are and what you want. You may have no idea what you need in a career to feel fulfilled. It’s no wonder that making a change seems like a fantasy.

Rediscover U

Identifying your ideal career isn’t just about finding which professions have the best earning potential or highest number of job openings. Yes, those factors will eventually be part of your decision process, but that’s not where you should begin your quest. Right now there is only one subject you need to study and that’s you….your gifts and strengths, your preferences and priorities, maybe most importantly, who you are without your job title.

The World Beyond Your Fears

As you get more tuned into discovering what you want, the next step is to expand your horizons beyond your cubicle walls. There are countless trailblazers who have taken the journey ahead of you. Let their experiences ignite your imagination and your determination. Hearing their stories is a guaranteed force field against your fears.

Change your thinking

There are many important steps to changing careers. But the most important step you can take right now is to change your thinking. Challenge the beliefs that are holding you back. Be willing to believe that finding work you love is not only possible, it’s essential.

In upcoming posts I’ll be sharing ideas on how to rediscover yourself, interviews with people who have made the change, and ways to find the courage to take your next step into a new career and a new life.

Your fear survives because of the power you’ve given it. It’s time to give your happiness an equal shot!

 

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Alexander May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Great post, Ginny. Love your new blog too – looks great and has a nice, welcoming feel to it. Well done.

I’ve learned that a mindset change is the first step to doing what you recommend: changing your thinking. In other words, if you’re going to make a change in your life, the first step is to get to where you actually believe you can change in the first place.

This sounds ridiculously simple, but many people have the opposite belief, i.e. that the way they are now is the way they always have to be.

That’s what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls the “fixed mindset.” The “growth mindset” is the opposite. It’s the belief that we can grow and change throughout our lives, through our own efforts.

It’s easier than one might think to switch from the fixed to growth mindset. And it makes all the difference in whether we try to change in the first place, and whether we persist. I highly recommend Dweck’s book to your readers. It’s entitled “Mindset.” It’s the common thread running through many recent books on change, growth, self-help, motivation, etc.

I’ve blogged quite a lot about Dweck’s work (as I think you know). 🙂

Great post. Thanks, Ginny!

Susan

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Ginny Williams May 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Susan,

Thank you so much for your comments. I always appreciate your insights on the topic of change, a topic you and I are both passionate about.

I think many people assume that mindset is something that’s hardwired from birth. Yet I’ve worked with many people who have developed a positive mindset, even after years of reactive thinking. It’s a success skill that makes the difference between passively wishing our circumstances would change, versus consciously making a decision to change our circumstances.

I’m looking forward to reading Carol Dweck’s book!

Thanks again for your support,
Ginny

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Anne Lamb Curry May 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Ginny…what an excellent blog!!! Fabulous. Truly, truly. It caught my attention immediately. And, Vocation Vacations is a brilliant resource. Also, I love your new website. It’s soothing, inviting and it’s you.

Reply

Ginny Williams May 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thanks so much, Annie!

Vocation Vacations is an incredible concept for career changers. But it’s also a fun idea for anyone who wants a unique vacation experience. The founder, Brian Kurth, has just launched a new project called Pivot Planet, which is a spin-off of Vocation Vacations. Should be another winner!

Thanks again for your comments!
Ginny

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Susan May 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Ginny — Excellent post! I’ve changed careers several times — not always strategically either! You can always use the experience and skills you’ve learned in one job in the next, until you find the one that’s perfect for you. It can be done!

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Ginny Williams May 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Susan,

Many thanks not only for your comments, but your support as I launched the blog. You’re a perfect example of what @SusanRPM4 described in her earlier comment about having the right mindset. There are *always* skills and experience that can be leveraged, no matter what the career. Congratulations on making the most of your professional transitions.

Applauding you,
Ginny

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Phil Davis May 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Ginny,

This is outstanding. Just wonderful. Wow. You really covered
the key areas for reluctance to change. Your background is awesome!

Phil

Reply

Ginny Williams May 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Thank you so much for your positive comments, Phil. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Your support and encouragement is always appreciated!

With gratitude,
Ginny

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Julian May 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

Ginny,

What a fabulous post! Both inspiring and practical in equal measure. As you know I have been working towards such changes myself. However, and whilst time has definitely been a factor with work and other changes I am focussed on, there is the nagging feeling that momentum has been lost on this particular path. I am surely checking out the Mentorship resource – this is one major factor for me and has been for some time.

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Julian May 8, 2012 at 7:30 am

…and yet I have not been able to find that someone. I often say to others, ‘if you can’t believe in yourself, find someone who does and believe in their opinion!’. I have somehow not managed to practice what I preach. Thank you for these great words and resources Ginny.

Warm regards,

Julian

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Ginny Williams May 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Julian,

Thank you for your thought provoking reply. If there’s anything more frustrating than not knowing the right move to make, it’s knowing exactly the right move and yet not be able to pursue it due to circumstances, timing, life.

Your desire serves a purpose, acting as a challenge to your commitment. Will you use it to propel yourself forward, even though it may take more time than you’d like? Impatience can be a powerful motivator!

As a student of Zen, you know there are many paths to center. There also are many paths to any goal. Focus on what you *can* do now, within the constraints you have, and trust that life has a way of opening doors exactly when you need them.

I believe in you, Julian!

All the best,
Ginny

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