Considering a Career Change? Don't Believe Everything You Think

Making a career transition requires us to get out of our comfort zones and into action.  It’s not easy. When we break away from our norm and aim to make a change, our inner critic often speaks up loud and clear. If you’re attempting any kind of career shift, chances are that you will at some point face a few limiting beliefs like the ones I’ve outlined below.

What should you do when this happens? First, recognize it. Acknowledge when you’re making an assumption, holding yourself back out of fear, making up a story, etc. Second, reframe! Get your mind right by shifting your thinking. Here are some common examples:

Limiting belief: I have to find my passion to find meaningful work.

Reframe: When I solely focus on finding my passion, I limit myself so that I can no longer think comprehensively about the world of work and career possibilities that may fulfill me. I may not know what I’m passionate about and that’s okay because my passion doesn’t have to equal my career. Work can be meaningful for other reasons, like meeting my personal values or giving me the opportunity to express my strengths in a way that helps others.

Ask yourself: How might I define meaningful work, on my own terms?

Limiting belief: I don’t want to make the wrong choice.

Reframe: There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” choice. There are many possibilities that may be a good fit for me.  Most career paths aren’t linear, so I’ll likely hold multiple careers over the course of my life.

Ask yourself: How can I remain open and curious?

Limiting belief: I need to choose a career path that pleases other people in my life.

Reframe: While it is sometimes useful to consider others’ input, I need to be able to distinguish my own desires from others’ and act accordingly.

Ask yourself: Who is on my personal board of advisors and how can they help me in this process?

Limiting belief: Things aren’t so bad. It could be worse if I made a career move, so I might as well stay put where at least I know what to expect and how to manage.

Reframe: Every job has its pros and cons. Rather than make a decision based on assumptions, I need to get out there and evaluate things for myself.

Ask yourself: How can I take a bias to action?

Limiting belief: I’m probably not qualified for the type of work I want to do, so why bother?

Reframe: I won’t get every job I apply for, but I definitely won’t get any of the positions I don’t apply to. Resiliency is required to face the fear, take the risk, and get back up when things don't always go the way we hoped, especially when making a change in our career.

Ask yourself: How can I be courageous and resilient through this process?

Limiting beliefs get (and keep) us stuck. When you find yourself feeling stuck, try this:

For one week, take a few minutes each evening to write down when you felt stuck during that day. What did it feel like? Note where and how you felt it in your body. At the end of the week, step back and read over all of your entries.

What patterns do you notice?
What new insights do you have after reflecting on the week’s entries?
How will these insights change your actions, thoughts, or beliefs moving forward?

Feel free to share: How have limiting beliefs gotten in your way when trying to make a career transition? What strategies have you found help you get unstuck?