Only 34% of U.S. workers are engaged in the workplace, according to Gallup. Are you one of the 66% that are currently frustrated, unhappy, and disengaged?
For many, the thought of making a career change is so daunting that they put off making a transition even when they feel stuck. But, the reality is, making a transition in your career doesn’t require some kind of mammoth-sized, 180-degree change – it can be tackled incrementally.
If you’re thinking about changing careers, but you find yourself making excuses and holding yourself back, you’re not alone. To ensure you have a smooth experience, here’s a look at the common obstacles you may face as a career changer and how to triumph over these barriers.
The “What” of the Equation Is Foggy
You’ve come to the conclusion that you’ve outgrown your current position, but what you’re not clear on is why. And further, what you want to do next. When you take a moment to reflect on your next career move, chances are you know what drives your motivation in the workplace, such as writing or coding, but you’re unsure of what types of jobs to search for that would encompass these elements.
If this sounds like you, you do know what you want; you just need to invest the time in exploring what types of roles fall under these categories. Often, people are afraid to admit to themselves what they want. They chalk it up to lack of clarity when, in reality, it’s really the fear of going after what they want.
If you’re truly scratching your head when it comes to what type of position you want, hit the internet and start researching. Connect with your LinkedIn network, attend local events, take an online class that interests you, or chat with old colleagues to gain insight into what their day-to-day responsibilities entail. You’d be surprised how much you’ll learn about what sparks your curiosity and fuels your drive.
The Glass Half Empty Outlook
Changing careers has been consuming your thoughts over the past few months, but instead of pumping yourself up and searching for a new opportunity, you’re focusing your energy on the negatives. In other words, you’re only thinking about all the knowledge or skills you don’t possess rather than the value you can bring to a new employer.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say employers don’t hire based on what you don’t know, so why are you concentrating on these areas? What matters is the accomplishments you’ve already made, the skills that make you an asset as an employee, and you’re willingness to continue learning and developing as a professional. By shifting your mindset and focusing on how your work has had a positive impact in the workplace, you’ll find yourself more motivated and empowered to take the next step in your career.
Money tends to be a popular thread of unease for workers when it comes to making a career change. Growing up, my parents tried to drill the financial rule of thumb into me. You know the one – Always strive to be debt-free, maintain 6 months of savings as a security blanket, get a good job, etc. This is all fine and dandy in theory, but in today’s world, these rules are difficult to live by. In fact, according to Bankrate, 65% of Americans save little to none of their annual income. Additionally, NerdWallet reported that an estimated 48% of Americans are shouldering the burden of credit card debt.
The lesson here: stress over finances is shared amongst many. Instead of bathing in this fear, turn it into a motivator to make smart decisions about money. You can’t afford to let money worries thwart your career move. Instead, let it fuel your salary negotiations or inspire you to take on a part-time job or give you the push you need to start submitting your resume to new opportunities. And while doing so, make a concerted effort to monitor your finances, asking yourself things like: “Do I need this $6 double chocolate chip frappuccino?”
You Can’t Get Out of Your Own Head
Having strong analyzation skills is an asset. Having analysis paralysis is not. If you let yourself get caught up in every infinitesimal detail of your career, attempting to plan out your every move from now until your retirement, it’ll only hold you back from reaching your goals. We can all dream of perfect, obstacle-free scenarios, but when you let past failures or small hurdles deter you from moving forward, a career change will never happen. Take everything in stride, one step at a time. Focus your attention on what needs to be accomplished right now to move the needle forward. Once you successfully carry out that task, move on to the next.
Know Your ‘Why’
How can you expect to begin the next chapter of your career if you’re stuck re-reading the last one? Just because you’ve always had an unsupportive boss or worked with difficult coworkers doesn’t mean that this is the career path you’re destined to remain on forever. The good thing about experiencing a less-than-stellar work environment is you’ve learned what type of management style and culture aligns best with your needs.
If you can define your ‘why’- a.k.a why you want to change careers – and shift your focus from yourself to what type of work inspires you, you’ll find your purpose, confidence, and drive to make a career change happen.