Fear of change has stopped more job searches than bad resumes, ineffective search strategies, and disastrous interviews put together. Fear of change will stop you before you even start. Fear of change may stop you before you even think about changing jobs or careers.
But you really need to do something different. So, how do you conquer the fear?
Say the monster’s name
There is a power in naming what we fear. Identify what is holding you back. Are you afraid you’ll fail? That you’ll look foolish? That you will disappoint someone? Are these reason enough to keep you from moving forward?
I’ve been afraid of just about everything. In school, I was terrified to answer questions. I spoke so softly no one could hear me. Ironically, I became a teacher and coach. I am an amateur musician and play in front of groups occasionally. I have presented webinars and facilitated group discussions. That fear of speaking up is gone. What would happen if you faced your fear head on?
Figure out the motivation and consequences
What are the possible outcomes if you make the change? What are the possible outcomes if you don’t make the change? Which do you like better?
My husband and I recently became snowbirds, spending half the year up north and half the year down south. Although the transition was painful, difficult, and consumed our lives for two years, now that it is done, we love this life. It was worth it. Is your goal worth the effort?
When we make a change, we leave something behind. Give yourself time and permission to acknowledge the loss.
When we moved from the house I designed and my husband and I built together, I couldn’t drive by the neighborhood without tearing up. I still miss my garden. I asked my friend to paint my trees and flowers, and her painting hangs in my office. I was able to create a tangible memory of something that was very special to me. It helped me make the transition. What are you going to miss?
Many times, a project looks overwhelming and impossible until you break it down into manageable steps. When you need to face only one step at a time, it’s not as daunting. I encourage you to write your steps down so they feel more in your control.
Take a lesson from professional project managers who create and follow detailed plans with hundreds of moving parts and stakeholders with specific needs. Think through what needs to happen at each stage. What problems are there to solve? Who is involved? What do they need? What tools do you have? What obstacles do you anticipate? We often execute sophisticated plans at work, but we forget to bring that skill to our personal lives.
We often come to the end of an accomplishment and feel empty somehow. When you land that job, be sure to mark the occasion. You don’t have to throw the party of the century (but if you do, invite me!), you just need to acknowledge the achievement. Remember the effort. Appreciate your expertise. Say thank you to anyone who helped. Most of all, look back at the fear you faced and feel proud of your progress.
Image courtesy Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net