How To Conquer The Fear That Keeps You In A Miserable Job

In a blog post earlier this week, I wrote about “getting clear on the fear” that keeps you stuck in a job where you are unhappy, like almost 50% of Americans.

It’s a tough place to be. If you found yourself nodding along while reading, use that confirmation to take courageous action.

We set the groundwork to first dig into “why” you are hesitant to make a job or career change. Being honest with yourself and claiming the fear allows you to accept then you have a choice: to leave or stay. Owning your fear and stating an intention to go are significant steps! They are enhanced further by your acceptance that this process takes time, and that taking small steps and celebrating each win is the way to go.

Are you ready?

6 Baby Steps Toward A Job Or Career Change: A Practice In Self Care


  • Set a reasonable time frame. It may take as long as a year to decide on a career direction or save up a nest egg. Calibrating expectations ensures you don’t get frustrated and give up too easily. Lastly, you need a plan for any retraining or obtaining experience required for a new direction.


  • Evaluate your finances. Prepare for the change. Calculate the minimum living expenses you need. Investigate loans, refinancing, and other sources of money. Examine school scholarships and whether your current company offers tuition reimbursement. Even though it is tough, evaluate what lifestyle choices you are willing to sacrifice in the short term for your long-term happiness. From getting a roommate to slashing your cable bill, think about how spending each day at a job you love is a gift to yourself.


  • Create a detailed written description of your ideal job. You can’t make a job or career change without a clear and precise picture. Forget about job titles in the beginning. Focus on the tasks, environment, and output of your ideal position. Include the following:
    • Physical environment: office type, setup, dress code, work hours, office atmosphere, and working conditions.
    • Describe the kinds of people you work with: peers, subordinates, bosses, clients. Describe how you help these people, and how they support you.
    • Team or individual work: state your preference for either working alone or always with others. If you like both, under what circumstances do you prefer each? Decide when you are happiest and most productive.
    • What is your work output, or what do you “DO”? Do you make something, provide a service, work with data, or share information? How does the company you work for profit financially from your employment?
    • If you are struggling with creating these lists, consider using the Holland Self-Directed Search model. It’s inexpensive, easy to learn, and has thousands of jobs tied to a unique coding system based on your preferences.


  • Share your ideal job list with others and ask them what jobs and careers might fit your criteria. Don’t be shy; people love to give advice! Develop a list of potential careers and positions you need to learn more about. Next, ask everyone you know if they can help you find people who do that work now. Contact them and ask them for advice and perspective. At this stage, you are collecting information, not looking for a job (although this is how open jobs often appear!).Don’t prematurely reject options because of a perceived barrier. Find out the truth first and then attack any obstacles that indeed exist.


  • Find ways to safely explore whether this new career might be right for you. Once you have defined the job and industry you think you want, research information about what it might take to get into the field. Think about ways to make sure this is the correct choice. Sift through alternatives. Ask the following questions:
    • What skills might you need that you can get at your current job? Are there additional responsibilities or projects you can volunteer for that will boost your skills in a required area?
    • Do you need retraining or specific certifications? Do you need a new degree? Can you take weekend or online classes?
    • Are there professional associations you can join to network and learn about the field? Check out Gale’s Encyclopedia of Associations (print) or their Associations Unlimited (online) via your public library.
    • Are there industry conferences you can attend? Many are on weekends.
    • Are Internet resources available to research the field, find companies that might hire you, and meet others who work in the industry? Meetup can be a great local resource.
    • What books can you read to help make decisions about life choices and new fields? My personal favorite is the classic: What Color is Your Parachute?
    • What volunteer opportunities can you find to grow your skill base in critical areas?
    • Are there second jobs or even unpaid “intern” projects you can propose to someone you know to gain experience or test out your interest in a job?


  • Get support. One of the ways to improve self-efficacy is to use “vicarious learning,” which simply means seeing women similar to yourself also taking action and having success. Use the Facebook Bossed Up Courage Community to ask for support and to celebrate. It’s a great group of women who share their vulnerabilities, ask for help, and make it happen daily!

If you are miserable in your current job, remember that taking slow and steady baby steps in a new direction can create a huge boost in your self-care and life satisfaction. It’s your choice. What will it be? I want to hear from you: is it time to live #LikeABoss and choose career happiness?


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