Afraid To Change Careers: The Fear of Change is Real! 4 Tips To Help You Decide

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If you are afraid to change careers, this article goes into depth with some tips on how you can step out of fear and into the career change that you really desire. Dealing with fear of failure  as well as fear of change is a real concern for so many people and I share a real story about one of my clients and how he worked through making an important decision to move forward with his new career. 

He sits in front of me silent with his head hanging then after a long pause, he looks up and breaths a deep sigh and says…”I’m afraid to change careers”. I can see the anxiety written on his face. He was in pain but I needed to discover what the fear of change was all about.

What seemed like a young and upcoming professional who had his new career all sewn up neatly, is a man who is wrought with anxiety over the fact that he must change his career but is verbally telling me that he is afraid of this change.

I had seen him many times before for other consulting never knowing that his heart was in so much turmoil. He never said a word about how uneasy he was about the direction he had chosen for his career.

He was only 25 years old and single, he has his bright future ahead of him and his education behind him. Correction… his expensive education behind him.

Afraid to change careers – what will they think of me?

He made his folks so proud, because he chose to follow in their footsteps. Both of his parents are in the education industry, and have been in one capacity or another for their entire adult life.

This field was all that he knew. It was only natural that he chose this path.

After probing, I gained new perspective as to what he was feeling. I asked him all about everything that brought him to this point.

You see, he was feeling a calling in a different direction. He saw what he called “crimes” playing out in the education industry that he was appalled by and wanted so desperately to play a different role and make lasting, positive changes. To do this, he needed to grow.

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We discussed many different scenarios. One of them was seeing this career through a little further.

I asked him this: would true passion still be missing from his work regardless of any promotion or raise he could be given?

This is a question I’d like you to ask yourself, too.

Is a raise the only thing standing between me and enjoying what I do?
Have I fallen out of love with my career just because it doesn’t pay well enough right now?
If my financial situation was better, could I find the passion for my work again?

I do believe that you have found your passion when you can do it without being paid. Whether you feel like you can, or actually can in real life are two different things. It’s a novel idea, but what happens in the real world when what you love doesn’t pay the bills?

If the answer to those three questions is yes, then you need to look at other solutions. You could consider looking into some simple side gigs, and selling off some of your old stuff. Or, could educate yourself on some small investment opportunities. Your money management may be the only thing that you have to change immediately.

My friend here had indeed fallen out of love with his job, but it was about more than just a small paycheck. He dreaded all of the face-to-face fussy clients. Countless revisions of his work for people who really didn’t know what they want from the beginning made it boring and repetitive. Being ordered around so much was not something that felt authentic to him.

He wasn’t satisfied in this career, and he knew it. He also knew what had to be done. Still, he was afraid to change careers.

These where the questions that he was grappling with.

  • What would it mean if he changed careers?
  • Would his parents be disappointed in him?
  • Would people look at him as if he was a fool to throw away four years of college?
  • How could he deal with the guilt of throwing away tens of thousands of dollars on the education?
  • How could he justify in his mind spending even more money on his education?
  • Where on earth would he find time to go back to school and work full time?

He’s fortunate that he doesn’t have children or a wife to consider. If that’s what you’re battling with, I’m sure your list of questions to work out is even longer. These are realities for many people. It’s a difficult decision to make, and it’s easy to see why a person would be afraid to change careers.

These are the life-changing decisions that I was inspired by which turned my attention to life coaching.

Afraid to change careers – How DOES one go about making a difficult decision like this?

  1. Make a list. Your first line of defense is formulating a list like we did as to what exactly you are afraid of. Write it in detail. This is important because you will have homework. Highlight any concern that you have that impacts a loved one as this is the issue that gets the most focus. Your needs/wants vs. someone else’s is a bit more complex and needs tremendous attention.
  2. Research. With each issue, you will need a certain amount of research to “answer” them. Educate yourself about what will be involved with the new career. For example, what will be the financial investment be? Take into consideration what constraints you might have on re-educating yourself. Propose a hypothetical plan on how to fit this into your life.
  3. Visualize. Take your time and evaluate this fully before making your decision. Do yourself a favor and visualize what the steps would look like, especially if you were to be adding education on top of your full-time job and any family commitments that exist currently. You really need to understand what impact this career change will have on others that are close to you. The more you visualize HOW you can make this change, will become imprinted on your mind’s eye and will eventually become easier to embrace.
  4. Get uncomfortable. To gain strength, we can use fear itself. When you are too comfortable, it’s likely that you won’t grow. Learn to think of your fear as a sign that the experience will help you grow. Always reaching higher is what a fulfilling life is all about!

I can relate with my client. I’d been afraid to change careers once, too.

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Some people would say that I threw away my spa. I see it differently now. Instead, I can proudly say that I overcame my fear of the unknown. I had the strength to decide that being authentic was more important to me.

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That’s what I want for you, too. I want you to be able to stand up for your long-term happiness, and place it as a higher priority than your comfort in this moment.

Who throws away a successful business? I suggest that people never look at it as if they are “throwing away” the career. You gained something from it. Experience. That is priceless… Above all else, it was a class in self-discovery.

Life isn’t a trial run, and it’s happening in the now. You have to take control, and decide if you want it to happen to you or for you. Realize that you deserve more than just to stay safe by being stagnant. No matter the cost, you deserve to be satisfied.

My client learned that he wasn’t fulfilled after listening to his gut. This is a major reason people change careers. Change is difficult all on its own. When money is tied to the decision or it impacts family members, changing careers should not be taken lightly . Where you ever faced with this dilemma? Leave your comment below and share how you overcame your fear of changing careers.

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Don’t let fear of career change get to you. If you are afraid to quit your job or even if you have fear of failing at a job, answer these questions above to help you make the switch.

Are you ready to jump ship and change your career? 

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afraid to change careers, afraid to quit your job, fear of changing careers, fear of career change


  1. Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article.

    Thank you for providing this information.

  2. Great article.

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