You can have clarity. You can have a 5-year plan plastered to your mirror. You can know exactly what you want to do and when. You can have a Rolodex of contacts and know the best people in your industry.
But, if you’re holding onto your fear of fill-in-the-blank, you’re probably self-sabotaging your career more than you realize.
Be honest with yourself, you know you’re ready for a career change, so why haven’t you taken the next step? What’s stopping you from moving forward?
It’s not that your resume isn’t as perfect as you’d like it to be, nor is it that you don’t know how to market yourself for your next position. Though those are plausible burdens, it’s much deeper than that.
Here are three subtle fears that are causing you to sabotage your next career move.
You Fear Getting Rejected
You might be struggling with this, if the question, “Why would they hire me?” has stopped you from applying for job openings that excites you, or if the thought of not getting a response back has stopped you from setting up informational interviews with people you’d love to meet.
Granted you might not want to shoot your shot at a position that requires 10 years of experience if you’re barely on the cusp of year two. But, the fear that you might not be good enough is normal. And, plaguing yourself with what I call the “Out of My League Syndrome,” simply because something is different or new, isn’t the most effective way to land the job of your dreams.
In a perfect world, we would ask whoever we want for whatever we want, and we would receive a, “Yes, absolutely,” every time. But, in our imperfect world, no one is free from rejection. It happens to all of us. It’s inevitable, so embrace it. Understand that it’s a necessary evil to achieve success and learn to see rejection as redirection, rather than a setback.
Rejection always leaves you with two options: you either let rejection defeat you or you regroup and keep going. But, don’t count yourself out before you try.
You Fear Treading in Uncharted Waters
If you have a job that looks good on paper or if you’ve outgrown your current position but feel pretty comfortable in your career, the fear of uncertainty probably has kicked in more than you’ve noticed in your job hunt. Deep down, you don’t completely like the idea that you’re moving from familiar ground into unknown territory.
If you’ve had thoughts like, “What if I get a job and I don’t like it as much, or what if I don’t get paid as much?” Then, you’re a member of this club. When it comes to landing a new job, you’ve probably put in less effort than you’re willing to admit to yourself. Rather than dedicate intentional time to discovering the next best career move, you might coast through your job search, soothing yourself with excuses like, “I just don’t have enough time.”
Unfortunately for you, your lack of consistency and momentum is holding you back from making the career change you so desire. Your first step is to acknowledge that you feel this way. Then, accept that all you can do is put your best foot forward, and repeat, one step at a time. Do your research and talk to as many people as you can before jumping into your next position to ensure it’s the right fit for you.
If that’s not enough and if you want to get as much guidance as possible to safeguard you from making a wrong turn, get a career coach. Career coaching helps you fill the gap between where you are and where you want to be in your career, with a concrete step by step system to help get you there. Find a career coach that understands your needs and who can steer you in the best direction.
You Fear Failing
This is one I used to struggle with, and you can blame growing up in a Nigerian household for this one. Growing up, I was told failure is not an option and success is not a choice. Success is a requirement. So, as you can imagine, that created an insurmountable amount of pressure.
If you’ve ever felt like, “What if I do all this work to get a new job and I fail? What if it doesn’t work out?” Welcome to the party. That fear of failure, probably has you applying to 30 jobs a week, sending off your resume to all who cares to listen just so you can end up somewhere and deem yourself successful. But that isn’t the best approach. It’s impossible to show that you’re the best candidate for every position you desire when you aimlessly apply to that many jobs at once.
Be selective in your approach, and take your time. Don’t let the fear of failure rush you into something that won’t ultimately make you happy.
More importantly, don’t let the fear of failure keep you stagnant either. Failure, like rejection, is inevitable. At some point, you will fail. But, the faster you fail, the closer you get to success.
So, whenever you start to feel these subtle fears creep up your shoulder, ask yourself two questions: First, “Do I honestly like where I’m at now?” And, secondly, “What is the worst that can happen if I move forward in this direction?” If the worst that can happen is better than where you are right now, get out of your comfort zone and take the risk.
Adunola Adeshola coaches young professionals to get unstuck in their careers and land jobs they’ll love. She’s also the founder of employeeREDEFINED.com, a career site for millennials who secretly feel stuck in their careers.