The 3 Top Fears that Stop People from Looking for a Meaningful Career

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2015/10/02


“The worst days of  those who enjoy what they do, are better than the best days of those who don’t.” – James Rohn

47% of all workers in the UK say they’d like to change careers. This sobering statistic was released by the London School of Business and Finance:

That’s a staggering number.  Think of all the grumpy mums getting up on Mondays with a possible feeling of dread or anxiety, and the atmosphere in those homes…

When one area of our lives does not work, it cannot usually be contained into only that one small category. I know they say that men have compartments in their head and no compartment touches another. True? I don’t really know. But for women, it’s not.

The emotions we feel during a work day will inevitably spill over to the rest of our lives. If we consider that the 8 areas of life function like a wheel, and one area does not work well, the entire wheel does not turn smoothly. Each smaller part affects the whole. And because women are usually the primary caregivers and emotional support at home, their emotions will have an effect on the atmosphere in the home, and emotional health of their spouse and children.

I know that during the months I was unhappy in my 2 previous careers (as a musician in the SA Army Band, and a programmer for a software house), my health suffered. I was tired, irritable, felt tearful more often than usual and I suffered from headaches. I could hardly get myself out of bed in the mornings and started feeling depressed on Sunday afternoons. Some days it felt like I was in prison.

I didn’t know what to do. A part of me said ‘I don’t know what else to look for, or where to begin the search. Maybe I should change my attitude and just be grateful that I have a job.’ And another part of me felt more and more certain that I couldn’t stay there for much longer. So conflicted inside. An awful way to live.

The LSBF further mentions that people don’t go on to search for another job mainly due to three reasons:

  • They lack financial security (29%)
  • They’re uncertain what to switch to (20%)
  • They fear failure (15%)

And yes, I’ve been there too. At the time, I had no guidance. I scoured the papers week after week with no luck, only more despondency. It was a lonely road, and made decisions based on fear and insecurity.

“A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.”
–  Arthur Golden

Unfortunately, as I share with my clients now, fear and anxiety are not healthy emotions to use as decision makers. When we feel those emotions, we’re reacting to current circumstances and something that has not even happened yet. The prefrontal cortex literally receives less blood flow when we’re afraid, therefore the reptile brain makes our decisions for us. We can’t think or analyse properly in that mode. The reptile brain is primarily responsible to keep us safe. So it will tell us to stay put – at least we know where the money is coming from.

Nope, we’re certainly not in an expansive mode where we can create a vision, and hold it in mind as we confidently (or even uncertainly!) move towards a future of our choice.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –  Abraham Lincoln

It’s vital, indeed, before we start looking for another position to

  • Know our talents and strengths
  • Know our values and needs
  • Be able to verbalise and talk about them in an interview
  • Know when are  at our best, and be sure about the areas we will NOT add value
  • Clear out the fear of failure (and so many other emotions that are stirred up when big change is at hand) and step into confident shoes
  • Do financial planning so even if we are without work for a month or two, our families are provided for

What’re your feelings telling you? Are you afraid to look for another position because of any of the above?

The longing for work that’s fulfilling and meaningful will not disappear. We can suppress it for a while, just as we can suppress a feeling. But not for long. Suppression is not healthy and eventually the truth bubbles to the surface.

It’s vital to plan, take mindful action, take care of the fears in a suitable manner, while discovering our authentic selves AND what we really, really want from a career. We need to define what success means to us, personally, before embarking on an outward search. Search inside, first.

If any of those 3 fears have been stopping you from looking for a career you can love, please contact me for a free Career Strategy Session. Let’s see where you are, where you want to be, and start creating that with someone by your side. You can also subscribe to the Mindful Career Transitions Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, for weekly inspiration.

If you consider that you might be at work for around 2,000 hours in the next year (not counting commute time and Sunday nights you’re already not enjoying), is it not worth taking one step in the direction of something more fulfilling?

 “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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