Have you be thinking about making a change to your career for a while now? But your thoughts are quickly followed up with a reason why you can’t. Perhaps something along the lines of the following:

  • I would love to retrain but I can’t afford to take the pay cut.
  • I want to be my own boss but I can’t right now the economy isn’t stable enough.
  • I would like to move into a different career but I can’t I’m too old.
  • I need to start applying for jobs, but I’m so busy with work and the kids I can’t.
  • I desperately want to leave my job but I can’t think of anything else I could do.

You know you want to do something but you quickly follow it up with why it isn’t feasible. However, what if you were to look at it differently and to start to question if there something deeper going on?

Going back to our list of reasons why we can’t make a career change, consider the followings:

  • Have people older than you made a career change?
  • Do you really know that you would have to take a pay cut and if so how long before you would be able to cover your outgoings?
  • Are other people around you setting up businesses even though the economy is fragile right now?
  • Do you think only people with lots of time on their hands apply for jobs?
  • Do you think other people have been able to figure out alternative careers?

Are you putting obstacles in the way of taking control of your career? Are you making excuses? If you are it's ok, but understand why. You see we all will make excuses from time to time but if we really want to bring about changes to our careers then we have to be prepared to take action, we have to be prepared to recognise these are stories are limiting our ability to accomplish what we want.

A way to understand if you are starting to make excuses in your own career is to look at the words you are using when explaining why you are not taking control of your career. In our list of reasons, you will see the word ‘can’t’ appear.

‘99% of the time can’t is a euphemism for won’t.’ Marie Forleo

It’s not because we can’t but rather that we are not willing to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, to do the work, to take the risk. What that means is that we don’t consider it to be a big enough priority; it’s not something we want badly enough at this time. If that is your situation that’s ok, but it’s important, to be honest, and acknowledge this is the case.

When we use the word ‘can’t’ we are portraying ourselves as a victim, that we are powerless to do something but, in fact, we do have a choice. If we are true to ourselves and acknowledge that we ‘won’t’ do anything about it right now then we are coming from a place of power, we are choosing that it is not a priority at this time.

So go back to your reason and replace it with won’t. How does that make you feel?

When we look at reasons or excuses as to why we can’t/won’t do something there are three common ones:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Money concerns
  3. Know-how

Time - I had a client who was renovating a house with her partner, studying two different qualifications as part of her career journey and holding down a demanding job four days a week. She only had the same 24 hours in the day that you and I have. The difference was that she had become clear on what she wanted from her next career and could see how this would take her closer to her future self that she found the time. The cost to stay as she was, was too much emotionally and financially. If lack of time is your reason it isn’t about never having the times it’s about making the time.

We choose how we spend our time. Yes, we really do.  There may be consequences if we decide not to do something and it is these consequences that make us do them, but it is still a choice. For example, we don’t have to pay our bills but if we don’t we will have our utilities cut off and we don’t want the consequences of sorting them out and no heating. We don’t have to get the car serviced but we don’t like the consequence of not having a safe car to travel in or the fines we could receive. We could invest the time in making a career change if the consequences of staying trapped in a job are too painful.

Money- If money features in your reason, are you working with facts or assumptions? Do you know what you need to earn? Not your salary but what you need to keep a roof over your head. Many of my clients will use this reason before they start working with me, and it’s particularly prevalent in clients who are the main breadwinner or single parents.

What surprises many clients is when they really get clear on their numbers and start to investigate actual earning potentials the gap is not what they first envisaged. And in some cases, this is only for a temporary period of time while they build up a business or get qualified. During this time they explore other options such as a side hustle, reducing expenditure, selling the unwanted items hidden in the garage and the loft and explore opportunities for funding whether government or family support. It’s about being resourceful. It’s about doing the work to get the facts, and taking an informed risk and maybe even a temporary hardship.

If this is part of your story, consider the non-financial costs you are incurring staying stuck in a job that doesn’t work for you. What is the impact on your health, your emotions, relationships, your self-esteem, your diet, your sleep? Are you willing to pay these costs so you can retain your existing income?

Know-How - We do not have to figure out how to do everything on our own. You didn’t have to learn to drive on your own, you didn’t have to learn to swim on your own, you don’t have to learn how to figure out your next career move on your own. Whether it is me, Google or someone else, there is help out there, you just have to be willing to do the work, to ask the questions, to seek help.

So is it a can’t or a won’t?

  • Write your reason for not progressing with your career change?
  • How do you feel when you replace can’t with a won’t?
  • What is one step you can take today?

If you found this article interesting you may like to understand more about the process of making a career change.  Take a look at these blogs as a start.