How to Take the Edge Off Career Change Decisions

Have you found yourself wondering if it’s time to shift gears and either move on to a new job or a different career entirely? Maybe you’ve realized that your current job no longer provides the satisfaction and meaning that you desire. It might have been exactly what you needed when you started but it no longer feels like a good fit. You know something has to change but each day you find yourself waffling between decisions to stay or go. This can cause a great deal of stress.  Stress is not a bad thing. It’s the body’s way of letting you know something needs to change. It’s the ‘fight or flight syndrome’. In your case, it’s the stress caused by decision-making. Figuring out your next career move can take both a mental and physical toll on you.  Decision-making is difficult — especially when you’re scared of making the wrong choice. This mentality can paralyze you. Plus, constantly doubting yourself will only make you feel even more stuck. So how do you tame the beast and keep career change decision-making from taking over your life? Here are 5 ways to take the edge off and regain control.

  • Recognize and claim your stress about decision-making

Identify your feelings of stress related to work. Take note of these feelings throughout the day, especially when you wake up and when you get to work. Start a journal to capture them. Are you feeling dread, restlessness, and less motivation? Maybe you find yourself daydreaming about ideas, goals, and the type of work you envision yourself doing in the future. Write these down and reflect on your notes. This will help you gain clarity around what you want and what you don’t want, helping decrease the chances of making the wrong decision for yourself.

  • Take a break

Making a tough decision is hard enough but making one in haste can do more harm than not making one at all. The best decisions are made from a place of calmness. The next time you begin to ruminate and fret about your next career move, try to relax intentionally. Focus on your breathing, notice your surroundings and remove yourself if it’s not helping matters. Go for a walk or meditate. The goal is to give your unconscious mind a chance to take over and do its job for you.

  • Explore what drives you in your work

Understanding personal values and what’s important to you will help guide your decision-making, decrease stress, and help you make better choices. You must take the time to identify what you can live without and what you can’t. 
Often, it’s not only the decision to change jobs or careers that causes the most anxiety but what we may lose in the process. Here are a few common values often mentioned in literature. See if any resonates with you. Add others that you may _value_ more:

  • Family
  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Order
  • Community
  • Wealth
  • Change
  • Freedom
  • Teamwork
  • Peace
  • Autonomy
  • Friendship
  • Learning
  • Nature
  • Peace
  • Leisure

Do you have strong emotional reactions to any? How do they factor into any stress you may be feeling concerning your career decisions?

  • Eliminate negative self-talk

Do you believe in yourself? Or, do you spend countless days and nights wondering if you are good enough for a better career? Most of us are guilty of this and I’m no exception. Despite years of training, experience, and the wisdom that comes with age, I still find self-belief challenging. Whenever we lower our self-confidence, we prevent ourselves from growing.  Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Notice which option comes first to mind. This question could reflect your outlook on life. Your perspective will have positive or negative effects on various aspects of your life, including work. Having an optimistic outlook on life is important when trying to make tough decisions, including career choices. 
Researchers continue to look at the effects of positive and negative effects on health, including coping skills during times of hardship and stress. According to [Mayo Clinic]. “One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.” Another [article].  published by Mayo Clinic indicates that mindfulness offers several ways you can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. One of the most helpful tips is to practice positive self-Talk. Start by following one simple rule: “Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else”. The author also writes that we should be kind to ourselves and, “If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.”

  • Face your fears

Let’s “face” it, before you can silence the voices in your head and act on your dreams you have to get a grip on the fears that are holding you back. Starting a new job in the same field can be intimidating but switching to an entirely new field can be downright scary. Knowing what you are facing will make the transition and the decisions surrounding the move more manageable and maybe even enjoyable. Start by making a list of key reasons why you want to change careers. Make another list of the fears you have when considering the transition. Try not to censure yourself or think too hard or long. Just get it all out on paper. Once you finish, sit and reflect on your lists and then put it away for a day or two. After taking a break from stressing over your career, pull out the lists and analyze them. Do you have any irrational fears? After rethinking, can you remove anything from your list? Perhaps you missed a few. 
Regardless of what comes up remember that the most important point is that you increased your self-awareness concerning your fears and are in a better position to take control of them. This practice will help you control your actions.     If you still feel a sense of anxiety and frustration don’t try to maneuver alone. Obtain support either from friends, colleagues, or family members. Share the work you’ve done after reading this blog and get input where you feel it’s appropriate. If you don’t have anyone that you feel comfortable reaching out to consider enlisting the help of a career coach to move past your fears so you can take action to find your best career ever. Hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that it was helpful! Follow me on LinkedIn or connect with me on my Website:

Posted in