Is Career Fear Holding You Back?

If you’re unhappy at work, you may want a change of career focus or direction. Yet fear of the unknown can keep you stuck.

You’re paralyzed by the “what ifs” …what if I make less money than I do now? …what if it takes me twice as long to land new job? …what if I need more training?

We tend to focus on the potential challenges that a career change will raise, rather than the positive changes it could make in our life. Our negative thinking spirals out of control, panic ensues, and we remain frozen in place.

Here’s the thing: You can’t solve a problem before you’ve even made a commitment. Attempting to solve for any and all eventualities that could follow a career change is both exhausting and unrealistic. Change cannot happen without some risk.

So if you want to overcome you’re career fear, here are 3 steps to get you on your way:

  1. Take Baby Steps – Make a series of small commitments to yourself that get you moving. You could make a short list of questions you need to answer for yourself, do some research, or have a series of career conversation with people you trust. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Start building momentum (and confidence) with small steps at first.
  2. Protect the Downside – Fear has a lot less power over us if we’ve created a career safety net for ourselves. “Safety” varies from person to person. For me it’s knowing that if I had to, I could always give up being an entrepreneur and get a real job (i.e. go back to being an employee somewhere). For someone else it could be having 3 month’s salary saved up to get them through lean times. Figure out what safety is to you, so that fear loosens its grip.
  3. Create Accountability – It’s all too easy to give up on your dreams when it’s just you. The fact is the most successful people have someone keeping them accountable. Just like the tender, green shoots of spring – a career change can be delicate at first while your plans are taking root. Identify someone you can trust – ideally an experienced coach or someone who’s not personally invested in your career – to brainstorm, strategize and help to defend your dream.

So there you have it!  3 Simple steps to help you overcome career fear; creating momentum & confidence as you move in a more positive career direction.



Heather Petherick is a master success coach for high potential business leaders, having established her private coaching practice in 2007. Since then, she’s coached hundreds of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs from around the globe to overcome the mindset traps that keep them playing small so that they can realize their potential and create the impact they’re meant for. Her areas of speciality are: • Mindset • Confidence • Communication • Speed of Implementation Her clients include corporate rising stars at WestJet, Agrium, Suncor Energy, Manulife Bank, TD, Royal Bank of Canada, KMPG and PepsiCo International as well as big-thinking entrepreneurs from around the world. She has been featured as a career and success expert with Women Engineering The Future, The Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Living Magazine and Chatelaine magazine. Heather’s journey from growing up on a humble sheep farm on the prairies of western Canada to building a global coaching business have lent to her signature coaching style that combines both wit and humility, style and business savvy. She holds a Master’s degree in Management and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband and two children.

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