The Top 4 Myths Holding You Back From a Successful Career Change

and landing the job of your dreams

If you’ve ever gone through a career change, you know how stressful it can be. From figuring out what you want to do to landing the right job, there are so many things to consider and get right in this process. Make the wrong move and it could throw your career to a screeching halt. Make the right one though, and you’ll be one step closer to your dream career. And despite what everyone around you says, it’s not about getting your LinkedIn page to perfection or fine-tuning your resume that will make or break you. Rather, it’s your mindset and belief systems that will determine the fate of your career.

Man Making a Career Change

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Whether you’re jumping ship to another company in the same industry or wanting to switch industries completely, making a career change is never an easy task.

There are an endless number of decisions you’ll need to make and tons of considerations that will inevitably be rattling around in your head, such as:

Will my resume stand out from the others?

How am I going to position myself?

Should I be networking more?

What job is actually right for me?

Eventually, one thing leads to another and you start asking questions like:

What if I regret making this change?

Is my job really that bad?

Would it actually be the worst thing if I stayed?

Do I even know what I want in the first place?

Since a career change can be such a stressful event, you can quickly get overwhelmed and want to quit.

Deep down, however, the reason you feel stress (the reason we all feel stress) is due to fear.

Fear comes in a variety of shapes: fear that you will fail at making this change, fear that you are giving up on something great, fear of the unknown, the list goes on.

Fear is what holds us back from accomplishing extraordinary things in life.

But the majority of fear is unfounded; it’s a figment of our imagination and if left unchecked, can be the demise of our success.

So the question is: how do you cope with fear?

Change your beliefs.

Once you change the way you view fear, you begin to see it in a different light.

Instead of seeing problems, you now begin to see opportunity.

Instead of worrying about the “what ifs”, you can focus on your skills and what you can control.

Through my work, I’ve found that there are certain beliefs many people tend to have which hold them back, fueling their fear.

If left to fester and grow, these beliefs could keep you stuck in your same job and hold you back from your real potential.

Belief #1: There are a lot of risks when making a career change

Anything polarizing is going to get attention.

That’s why you only see terrible events on the news, like car crashes and murders — it’s polarizing and catchy.

The same goes for stories of people who “risked it all”, quit their job, and either 1) crashed and burned or 2) immediately rose to the top.

While these epic quitting stories and overnight successes get tons of attention, they are far from the norm.

In fact, most career changes are so subtle that they don’t even register on the map. They happen over a long period of time and make very little ruckus.

Let me show you what I mean…

In statistics, a bell curve is used to show the normal distribution of a set of data.

Bell curve of a career change

Most people (80% or so) fall in what is the “normal” range. Then there are the outliers — the top and bottom 10%.

In career changes, we tend to forget about the “average person” and only pay attention to the outliers.

We see those people who quit their job to start their own business, which suddenly takes off like a rocket (top 10%).

Or we see others who do the exact same and fall flat on their faces (bottom 10%).

Rarely, if ever, do we hear about those who strategically quit their jobs, put their head to the ground, and grind it out for 5-10 years building something they love (average people).

But because the highs and lows are so interesting, we’re lead to believe that in order to make a career change or a pivot, we must take a lot of risk.

The opposite is true in fact. Most successful career changes are meticulously calculated out. They are well-planned and have minimal risk.

Put simply, career changes aren’t that risky.

Making a change in your career can lead to some incredible things like a bump in your salary, finding work that aligns with your values, and making a bigger impact, to name a few.

The problem doesn’t lie in the risk, it lies in your perception of the risk.

It’s as simple as limiting your attention to the outliers and focusing on what you can control.

Belief #2: I would be starting from scratch in a new industry

When making a switch between two different industries or job functions (eg. sales to HR), it can seem like you are starting from ground zero.

I recently sat down with Kimberly Schaub, an army veteran, who said that her career transition from the military to a health food store was like “jumping off a moving train and hitting a tree.”

She had a lot to learn in this new industry and felt totally out of place because she felt like she was starting from scratch.

She was surrounded by people who had been in this industry for years and she was a newbie just getting her feet wet.

But what she quickly realized was that she actually had tons of unique experiences from the military that could aid in her new job.

Once she made this realization, she began to use her previous experiences as her differentiator and had some words for those making similar transitions:

For people crossing their careers, they shouldn’t be embarrassed with where they came from. They should embrace it (i.e. veterans moving into the workforce) and use it as much as possible. Your past experience can be a differentiator for you in a new industry, in a new job.

So while there will always be a lot to learn when going from one industry to another, you are never starting from scratch.

You have unique abilities and insights that others don’t. Your past experiences are what set you apart from the rest. So take time before making this transition to understand what those differentiators are.

Not only will it help you become more confident but it can even help you stand out.

Belief #3: I need an MBA (or other higher degree) before making my career change

There are many reasons why people want to get MBAs:

    • They just want to have the degree
    • They are applying for a job that “requires one”
    • They want an in-depth knowledge of business acumen and experience
    • They want to build a strong network of people who could open doors to their career

While I’m not telling you that getting an MBA is the wrong decision (because it very may well be the right path for you), I’m interested in your “why”.

Many people I connect with, tell me they want an MBA in the hopes that it will help their career when they are feeling stuck.

I get it. That was my reason for wanting one years ago.

The problem with an MBA, however, is that employers don’t care anymore, the average cost is well over $100k, and you can easily get the same information through books and course like the Personal MBA.

Unfortunately, the inverse also exists. We live in a society that still teaches us that we need to use the outdated (and expensive) accredited education system.

Truthfully, the information you need is available to you right now.

  • If you want to go into digital marketing but don’t know how to build a website, you can learn that for less than $200.
  • Curious about machine learning but don’t know anything about it? Get trained up for $599 from some of the top data scientists.
  • Want to start a freelancer design company but don’t know where to start? Take this Freelance Designer class for only $229.

The resources are endless.

Before you invest thousands of hours and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars on an advanced degree, figure out the specific skills that you don’t have yet, but want. Then, see if you can go learn them elsewhere.

It will take a bit more legwork, but the rewards will be far greater on the backend.

Belief #4: I don't have the right resources (time, money, etc.) to make this change

Regardless of your circumstances, there will never be a right time to change careers.

There will always be something in your way:

  • It’s not the right time of year.
  • You don’t have enough money.
  • You don’t have enough time.
  • Your parents are sick.
  • You have a lot going on at work.
  • Etc.

While these may be valid reasons why you shouldn’t make a career change, they will always be there. And the list will keep getting longer.

But do you know what else will always be there? That lingering pain of not doing anything to change your situation. Whether that’s:

  • Working for a micromanaging boss that you hate.
  • Feeling completely stuck at work, not knowing which way to go.
  • Knowing that you could be doing more with your talents and skills.

That pain will always be there if you don’t make a change.

The pain of inaction is immensely stronger than the pain of temporary discomfort.

Ask yourself: If _______(insert resource) weren’t an issue, what would I do? Then, find a way to go do that.

The Big Takeaway

If you are unhappy with your job, the worst thing you can do is…do nothing.  

Like most things in this world, making a career change takes work.

But if you have the right mindset going in, you can easily avoid many obstacles that might otherwise trip you up.

The mindsets addressed in this article are the most common but are by no means a complete list. Everyone has their own unique circumstances and challenges in their career that create damaging beliefs — all of which are hard to see by yourself.

That’s why 80% of the content in The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your Dream Job is about mindset — it’s that important. In the guide, I really dig into how to get crystal clear before making the huge leap into a new career.

If you truly want to get your mindset right before making this change, pick up a free copy here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.