Four ways to deal with fear of career change failure


It’s you who wants to change career and it's probably you who are your own biggest obstacle. For lots of us, fear of making a wrong career choice is the thing that holds us back. If your career change is stalled by fear of failure, here are four ways to get unstuck.

Get perspective and a cheerleader

Rebalance a wobbly career chance perspective by finding a career change cheerleader. Choose someone who has the time and the inclination to buoy you up and keep you on track. This will most likely be a friend or a colleague who knows you well enough to:

  • chat through the challenges as you navigate your career change ups and downs

  • celebrate your discoveries and successes

  • help you dig yourself out when you’re mired in doubt and dread

  • give you a nudge when you’re spinning your wheels

  • remind you how capable and clever you are, especially when you’re feeling like a fraud

Your cheerleader’s energy and insight can help you stay afloat in uncharted waters. This makes all the difference when you step out into the real world to explore your options.

Think less, act more

When indecision and analysis paralysis kick in, get out of your head and into action.

It’s likely that you’ll find lots of potentially fulfilling careers so try to get close to as many of them as you can. Look for opportunities to volunteer or work shadow, arrange to meet with people in industries or roles you’re interested in. As a basis for career change decisions, these exploratory moves can be invaluable.

‘Trying before you buy’ reveals the day to day reality of careers you’re drawn to, as well as the challenges you’re likely to face.

Trust your gut

Counter your urge to overthink a decision by paying attention to your gut feeling. Remind yourself that analysis paralysis happens when you’re trapped in your head often with a bunch of shouty inner demons for company.

Changing careers successfully involves making lots of challenging choices. These decisions need time plus research, logic, intuition and instinct. I did nine things to change careers, trusting my gut was one them.

When you’re gathering intelligence on potential careers, physical resonance (that buzz of energy you feel inside when something resonates with you) will give you the strongest and most reliable data. If you feel connected and inspired that’s great. If you feel the role or the company are not for you, that’s great too!

Realign your mindset

Fear of making a wrong decision equals fear of losing something, face and friends, money or job security or better opportunities linked to different choices. If you’re a career changer already operating at the outer edge of your comfort zone, these fears can be acute.


Although it’s a tough ask when you’re feeling stuck and anxious, try shifting your decision making mindset from fixed to flexible.

A flexible mindset sets you up to deal creatively and well with the consequences of your decisions, whatever they are. It gifts you an open, curious, improvement oriented view of the world and your place in it. If things go pear shaped, you’re equipped to look for and learn the lessons that failing can offer.

As a flexibly minded career changer, you prefer to pursue your personal best. This frees you to make healthy comparisons against your own and others’ performances.

Find one of the clearest guides to adopting a resilient ‘no wrong decisions’ approach in Susan Jeffers’ classic book ‘Fear the fear…and do it anyway.’ As Jeffers points out it, it’s consequences not choices that scare us. We’re most afraid of not being able to handle the unpredictable outcomes of our decisions. If we can learn to view all and every consequence as a chance to grow, then we can learn to deal well with whatever happens.

Invite the unexpected by making room for happenstance

This is the inexplicable arrival of good stuff. Think random meetings with people who connect you to someone in a field or a company you’re keen to explore, or articles and job ads that pop up out of nowhere on your email or social media feeds.

If you’re open to the unpredictable, and optimistic about the prospect of lucky breaks, the potential consequences of your decisions can feel a lot less frightening.

Attract career change happenstance by doing these three things:

If you’re unconvinced about the impact of happenstance on building your career, think about your current or past jobs. How did you ‘end up there?’ Was it what you’d planned? Chances are happenstance played its part.

Struggling with career change choices? Book a chat.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.