Do you feel trapped, miserable, unfilled or even bored at work and wonder how to get yourself out of your situation? We can be our own biggest obstacle in terms of holding ourselves back from taking control of our careers and making the changes we need. In my own story, I have been extremely guilty of this. In today’s blog, I wanted to share with you common themes I have seen clients struggle with, but through acknowledgement and taking action, they have managed to push through these obstacles and make their career change.

Which of these is part of your story? At least five of these were obstacles in my own career journey.

Don’t know what to do instead. You know that your current job is not giving you what you need, and maybe is even making you feel miserable, but because you have no idea what else you could do you stay trapped until you have a clear idea you decide to stay put. Before you know it another year has passed and then another….and so on. You are waiting for that flash of clarity, that lightbulb moment.

Don’t know how to make that transition. Maybe you have a clear idea of what you want next but you can’t see how you can make it become your new reality. In your mind, you are making all these assumptions about how hard it will be, how much training you will need to undertake or the investment you will need to make. Your dream just seems to be too big, too overwhelming and remains out of reach.

Feeling guilty for wanting more. To everyone else, you look like you have a great job, the flexibility, the lifestyle, the income. Or maybe you have invested a lot of time building your career and experience and to walk away seems ungrateful. Although you know in your heart that this job is just not working for you any more you feel guilty for wanting to make changes and the impact it may have on your family.

Our fears are slamming the breaks on. Are you experiencing the internal dialogue that goes something like this ….’ what if I don't like it'…. ’what if I am no good at it’… ’will I be able to earn enough’. I have a whole lot to say on fear but the first thing is when you are contemplating a change in your career, fear will kick in, so it’s normal to have this dialogue. You are contemplating taking yourself outside your comfort zone so your brain wants to protect you. However, these fears can hold too much power, unless we acknowledge them and right-size them. Sometimes it's about understanding how much truth there is to the fear, other times it's about having your plan B if it does happen.

Other people’s fears are holding you back. It may be family or a friend, but their own story and concerns are fueling yours. For example, when I left my corporate job to set up my coaching business my grandfather who had grown up in a world of ration books, who with his wife and three kids never had any spare income was very worried for me. This was a gentleman who I had huge respect for and was proud of what he had achieved. If I hadn’t recognised what was going on I could have let his fears take over and put a halt to my plans.

It’s not the right time. You will always be able to find a reason to not take action and this is a key tactic we will take when we are scared. There are a few cases which are discussed here when it may make sense to temporarily delay handing that resignation letter in, but there are still actions you can take to get clear on what you need to find in your next career in order for it to fit you.

Money! We will make assumptions about what we feel we need to earn and what our earning potential could be in a new career. If money is holding you back then your first steps are to get clear on your figures. Understand what you need to earn to cover your outgoings and repeat this exercise with what you would like to be able to earn. 

Don’t believe we can do it. We can hold ourselves back from moving on through low self-esteem (having a low view of ourselves …  ’why would someone want to employ me’) or through low confidence (not having the skills) …  'I’m not good at selling’). These limiting beliefs will hold us back unless we are willing to work on them and to set ourselves small challenges so what once seem impossible actually becomes within our reach. We talk about career leaps, but a career change is actually made up of many small steps, numerous actions, that absolutely can be achieved.

It will pass. How long is acceptable to feel like you are? How would you feel if you are still in the same situation in 1 or 2 years’ time? Understanding what is the key issue is important as this then helps you to get clear on whether it’s the job, the company or something else. When you are clear on what is causing the pain then you can understand what action you need to take. Be careful not to allow yourself to become a victim and wait for someone else to get you out of your hole.

Ignorance is bliss! Are you sticking your head in the sand? Maybe you feel the risk is too great, but are you assessing the risk of persevering the status quo? By doing nothing what is this costing you physically and emotionally? What is the impact of staying put having on those you love as they are the ones on the receiving end of your pain?

All of these challenges begin with our thoughts, which is why we can be our biggest obstacle when trying to make a career change.  Maybe you are like me and it is a combination that is holding you prisoner in your current job. Trying to work through these challenges on your own can be hard and this is why my clients will come to me to help them. They need someone to help them uncover what is really holding them back and to help them break down these obstacles so that they can start to see a plan to help them move from A to B.

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