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What if I don't like it...?The 5 Minute Career Coach Update August 2010
August 15, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

August 2010 Update


But what if I don't like it...?

Susan in the US sent me a question recently, expressing concern about making a career change. Her worry was 'what if I don't like it?' and she was also concerned that her new career would be stable.

These are very natural concerns in relation to changing career, especially in the current economic climate. None of us like uncertainty – and let's face it, that is why many of us don't change career. We just take refuge in 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't'.

What underlies these concerns is the desire to have a guarantee that it will all work out perfectly if you take the leap of faith and change career. There is also a fearful flip side to that wish – a sense that if it does not work out perfectly, then it will be a total disaster!

Put like this, it is clear that this is a case of very black and white thinking. In reality, how often in life are things as cut and dried as that? Practically all decisions – even major ones about who we marry and which house we should buy – are to some degree uncertain, but we still take them or life would just grind to a halt.

We are all risk averse to some degree, we all carry that fear of the unknown with us. But what matters is to learn to question what we are afraid of and check how valid the fears really are. Is the risk really significant, or are we allowing fear to exaggerate it? Are the options really only total success or total failure, or are there many acceptable possibilities in between?

What if I don't like it...?

In terms of new careers, clearly, if you just jump into a new job without any thought, there is a definite risk that it will not a great fit for you. However, if you take the time to do your research, you will be able to make an informed assessment of whether the new role will 'tick the boxes' for you. There will still be no watertight guarantee, but there is a much greater chance that you will find the job satisfying and rewarding.

How much of it don't you like?

There are many elements that contribute to job satisfaction, for example the tasks and responsibilities you have, your managers, your colleagues, the pressure of work, the commute, the physical location, the clients you deal with, the pay you receive and the acknowledgment you get for doing a good job.

It is quite possible that one or two of these may be less than perfect, but it is important not to let those overshadow how you feel about the whole job. Make a point of acknowledging the good aspects of a job rather than dwelling on the bad.

And if the negatives begin to stack up, yes, you can move on to a new role where you might, for example, trade a slightly lower salary for a job based round the corner from where you live.

Will it be stable...?

In terms of guaranteeing the stability of a new career, I am not sure that this is a promise any employer can make these days. We live in times of change, so a different mindset is needed. Here are some strategies that will help.

  1. Do your best to make yourself as indispensible as possible in any role you take on. Do more than the bare minimum, show an interest in learning new skills, be supportive and encouraging to your colleagues. This means if cuts come, you will not be the first person they think of to let go.

  2. Always be thinking about how you can develop skills which are transferable to a variety of work situations so that if you do need to move, you have got a flexible offer for a range of new employers. Don't just put your head down and focus on the job in hand, but always have an eye on the horizon for new possibilities.

  3. Consider building a second income stream alongside your main job. This could be a small scale business or online marketing opportunity which would provide a buffer if you are between jobs at any point. This means that you will not be totally scuppered if you lose your job, but will be able to draw on, and maybe grow, your alternative source of income.

These days, flexibility in the world of work is the key. Don't think in terms of making one career change that has to be The Right One – you could have many careers. Keep learning, keep growing. You know we live in a changing world, so be prepared to change along with it.

Eric Hoffer summed it up well...

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

Make sure you are always a learner and you will find it easier to adapt to the shifting ground beneath your feet.

With best wishes

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