diverLike any emotional journey, coming to the realization that a career change is needed has its phases beginning with fear of the unknown and ending embracing that fear and using it to your advantage. And though concluding that your current job or career isn’t for you may be a frightening realization, making the major step of career change is not necessarily as hard as it may first seem. Consider a three-phase model for making a career change and how you can overcome each one in order to best fulfill your career goals.

The first phase is one of fear and doubt regarding the uncertainty of such a major change. But once you recognize the fear for what it is, you can begin to take steps to control it and move in the right direction. If your fear has become overwhelming, you must first try to break it down into smaller parts so that you can understand the root cause. Try this exercise to try and get a better grip on the cause of your uncertainty:

• Write or type out any fears that you have already identified. These may include financial fears, personal insecurities, or fears about potential lifestyle changes brought about by a career change.

• Next to each fear, figure out the underlying cause that is making you afraid. Write it out in question form so that it can be addressed later.

• Now, write out the uncertainties involved with each fear.

Phase stage two involves overcoming your fears by addressing them head on. By forcing yourself to visualize your fears through writing them out and addressing them, you will gain confidence in the future and find opportunities in the very things that you fear. The object of this phase to answer each of the questions you posed yourself in the prior phase. Think of ways to solve the problems within each fear by creating ways to work around them. For example, if you asked yourself how you would survive between jobs with no income you may respond by cutting expenses or taking on a side job.

Once you understand your fears and have create steps to overcoming them, all that is left to do is act. Your perceptions play a major role in how you take action so consider a couple of approaches to taking on your list:

• Try to look at the situation as an experiment. Not everything you try will succeed but only through opening yourself up to risk will you find yourself moving forward in the pursuit of your goals. Learn from your mistakes and react to them and don’t be afraid of a trial-and-error approach to life.

• Don’t accept a definition of success created by other people. Make your own definition based on what a successful like looks like to you. For example, if part of a career change involves receiving less pay consider the role of money in your personal definition of success. Sure, many people think money is an accurate gauge of success but that doesn’t mean it will make you feel successful. Eating and paying the bills is one thing, but beyond that, it is up to you to decide your priorities and values. Would you rather have extravagant vacations and designer clothes or a job that you love? In order to answer that, you must define what success means to you and whether any tradeoffs made during the transition are acceptable within that definition.

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