How to Overcome the Fear of a Career Change

by: Alicia Nigel


The multi-year pandemic has brought about many changes for workers and employees around the world, from the shift to remote work, to changes in their employment status as well. By the end of February this year, 4.4 million people quit their jobs, and the number is expected to grow for the rest of the year. According to a survey from FlexJobs, 42% cited burnout at their previous role as reason for quitting, and 68% of the respondents quit without having another job lined up.


In a time of constant life changes, it’s natural to start questioning the kind of work you do, and whether or not you leave your workplace every day feeling fulfilled enough. In her book titled, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – And Seize Success, Dr. Dawn Graham discusses how readers who have outgrown their current field can pursue a new career and succeed in their field of choice. With her experience, Graham provides strategies to prevent thoughts of imposter syndrome, performance anxiety, or second-guessing your goals. In the spirit of Switchers, we’ll go over how you can overcome your fear of a career change, and why it may be good for you:


Focus on building your skills

A healthy way of approaching your work is to look at it as a means to constantly grow and improve. This is especially important nowadays due to changing technologies, client needs, and industry trends. In our talk with Bain & Company’s partner-turned-tech startup president Dan Calpin, he discussed how his career shift hinged on his next role helping build his skills as a consultant — not just maintaining them. By combining skill-building with his interests, Calpin was able to align professional growth with his intellectual pursuits, allowing him to keep up with a fast-paced industry, while adding tech proficiency to his repertoire.


For Calpin, his background in consulting equipped him with a flexible mindset that enabled him to pursue an entirely new field, without completely abandoning the training and insights he gained in his previous role. While facing a career change may seem scary and filled with uncertainties, knowing yourself and your interests can help ground yourself into the new role, without feeling like you’re entirely back to square one.


Listen to your instincts

Outside of the realm of work, considering a career change can sometimes be a personal journey based on resilience and grit. Trusting your gut and letting your instincts guide you on these decisions can help you try on new roles and opportunities with more confidence and courage. In Becoming Bulletproof, author Evy Poumpouras emphasizes the importance of honing our instincts. Knowing who to trust and detecting those who might not have our best interests at heart are important instinctive skills to hone, and will help you overcome some of the fears you may have with shifting careers.


While your work-related skills are important for successfully transitioning into new career roles, working on your soft skills like communication, perception, and instinct can help make the transition much less stressful.


Take a break

Lastly, while it’s natural to take short breaks in between jobs, it’s important not to shy away from longer breaks either, even if it may last a year. According to this CNN feature, while career gaps used to be questioned in the hiring process, the drastic changes during the pandemic have begun a shift on workplace attitudes regarding career breaks. While some people take time off from work for reasons related to life responsibilities — childbirth, loss of loved ones, etc. — taking a break from work when it feels unfulfilling can help you re-center your career focus, and even reflect on where you are in your life.


If the thought of pursuing something new to you induces fear, taking a step back can help you recollect your thoughts and even provide you with time you never had to learn new skills. After all, career changes shouldn’t be rushed, and doing things purposefully will likely yield better results.



Article written by Alicia Nigel for the exclusive use of



Alicia Nigel

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