So, you’ve decided what you want to do, dreamt as big as you can, talked to as many people who would listen and planned the steps you think you need to take. There it lies before you in black and white, the goal of your new career, the steps you need to take, the way forward.
So why are you hesitating? What’s holding you back from going out in the world and following your passion? Could it be that although it all sounds really great, and you know that you’d love to do it, that it all seems really rather risky? Is it because even with this wonderful action plan in front of you there aren’t any cast iron guarantees printed at the bottom?
So often I come across a plaintive cry of “but how do I know I’ll succeed?” To be honest you don’t, but here’s the rub, if you don’t try you’ll never know. Plus, if you don’t try you’ll have one definite outcome; you’ll stay exactly where you are which is that unfulfilled unhappy place.
So if this is you and you are standing on the brink of a new career, but still hesitating, there are a few things you can do to help yourself take the plunge.
Do a reality check
Sometimes we don’t move forward because we have a funny feeling inside. It is difficult to explain when someone asks us what we are up to, but it simply won’t go away. I am a great believer in funny feelings and always explore them to check them out. A wonderful phrase was given to me a few years ago “If it comes to your attention give it your attention.” So if you are feeling funny about this next step check it out. Are you feeling funny because you are just a little scared of taking such a big jump, or is it that now you have the idea laid out before you are now not sure it is what you want to do?
If it is that you are now not sure if you want to do it you need to do some serious checking in. Firstly it is ok to change your mind. Often people push ahead with a career change because they have been talking about it and telling their friends and they think they have to go ahead. However if you are no longer feeling enthusiastic about your new career you do need to be honest with yourself. Career moves need 100% commitment and if you are not feeling that then you need to see why. It might be that in the research and planning of this career move you have found out things about the career that don’t motivate you. Perhaps it feels as though it is going to demand too much of your time and not give you the work life balance you crave. Maybe having met some people in the same industry it now no longer feels appealing. Whatever the feeling, you do need to honour it and ask yourself if you still want to go down that road.
That said, one word of warning: be really honest with yourself, are you just giving yourself an out because it feels such a big step? Sometimes we sabotage ourselves because we are about to move out of our comfort zone. Is this just self-sabotage or do you really not want to be in that career? If you truly feel that it is not what you want to do then be grateful you found out now and go back to the drawing board. If it is just that sabotage element of yourself (and everyone has one, you are not alone) then acknowledge the feeling and move forward anyway. When the saboteur shows it’s hand then it’s a pretty good sign you are on the right road!
Having ascertained that it is a career you’d like to go for you do need to be 100% enthusiastic to give it the best chance. The first thing to do is to reconnect with the passion you felt when you decided this was it. If that is still burning then bring out the bellows to strengthen the flame and allow that to re-motivate you. Take some time to sit down with yourself and see and feel what it will be like when you are doing your new job. For a while now you have been focused in the practicalities of making it happen, now is the time to be back in the creative space. Visualise what your days will be like; see how you will feel once you have made the move. Literally play through your mind what your life will feel like. Let this rekindle the flame.
Handling the risk factor
Fear is based on us moving into an arena where we don’t know all the players. It feels risky and because there are no guarantees we tend to pull back. This is where we have to stand up to the plate and take responsibility. If you know that this is the move you want to make, have done your homework, made a solid action plan, thought about as many eventualities as you can think of and how you might handle them and you still feel passionate, then the only thing stopping you is this fear of risk.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” She and others like her had no guarantees, just a burning desire to make something happen. To follow a dream. There will always be risks in life. Success is moving past them. So what are the consequences in letting your fear stop you taking that crucial first step? Where will you be in five years time if you don’t follow the dream? What regrets will you be harbouring? Can you live with that? Or do you wish to create the kind of life that others only dream about? Risks are part of being human, fear is always with us. It is not that those who have achieved their dream did it without fear. They did it in spite of fear. The passion was too strong to let fear of the risk stop them.
So get passionate. Do whatever it takes to get you back into the space of excitement. Build a motivation that is towards what you wish for rather than away from what you do not like. Talk with your cheerleader friends, the ones who will support you to go for it and not let you off the hook. Work with a professional who can help you address the fear and support you in the moments when you feel most vulnerable. Someone who can remind you of the dream, help you stay on track and take that all-important first step.
A quote I read many years ago went something like this:
Come to the edge he said,
We are afraid
Come to the edge he said, they came
He pushed them
And they flew
I have always loved this quote; to me it shows that our fear is often unfounded. However you don’t need anyone else to push you, you have the passion, you have done the homework, you can see and feel how it will be. Take one deep breath and step out, you too can fly!