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The average person changes careers 6 times in their lifetime. A change in job may come about due to a layoff, a mom or senior reentering the job market, a re-location, or an undesirable working environment. This last reason may spur a person to start thinking about moving into a new field. However, there are myths that hold people back.
Career Change Myth #1: You can't earn a living doing something you really, truly enjoy.
This is the pinnacle of career myths, the belief that you can't have a worthwhile career doing something that you love. This belief stems from fear. The fear is that while you are enjoying your work, there will not be a need or demand for it. Don't listen to friends and family. Look for successful people who also do your job and follow their path. Of course, you might have to take a part time job until the job that you have passion for pays off.
Career Change Myth #2: It is too hard to find work because of the economy.
This kind of negative thinking limits you. If you believe that you will find work, you will. Yes, the job market is competitive. Yes, the unemployment numbers are high, but you are prepared. You have obtained your degrees and certifications and you have kept up with the new job sectors being created. As old fields fade away, they are replaced with new ones. Additionally, if you learn how to network in this age of the internet, you will have an advantage.
Career Change Myth #3: Changing careers is too risky.
It is riskier to stay in one place if you are miserable. You cannot move up the ladder unless you move and opportunity doesn’t always come around. Yes, you will have to give up security, identity, and comfort. Have you heard that life begins at the end of your comfort zone?
Career Change Myth #4: You have to have a back-up plan.
Having something to fall back on is prudent as long as you don’t retreat to it. Your back-up plan might keep you from moving forward if it is the easier path.
Career Change Myth #5: I know what my perfect job is and it matches my skills and personality perfectly.
The truth is that there are many jobs that could make you happy. Here again, experimentation can help you fall into something great that you may have overlooked if you were just sitting in your comfort zone. Keep your eyes open and look beyond the obvious. Say yes to things that seem a little different.
Career Change Myth #6: We should weigh pros and cons when choosing a career.
All this will do will lead you to feeling overwhelmed with options. Ask yourself “What do I really want to do?” This is a very different question than “What should I do?” and will lead to a very different answer.
Career Change Myth #7: I am in the wrong career because I am miserable.
The truth is you just might be in the wrong job, but not the wrong field. You just might be working with the wrong people or company. It may not mean you need to change course all together.
Career Change Myth #8: Everyone needs to declare their mission or purpose.
If you cannot see what your mission is, then you might be on the wrong path. If everything you do feels wrong, you might be on the wrong road. The truth is we do not always know what our path should be. We need to try different things. It doesn’t hurt to have goals as long as you do not become so focused on the goal that you stop trying new things. You might be spending too much time looking for a dream job, one that its very title sparks a strong recognition in your soul. Instead it is more likely that your career discovery will gradually unfold.
Career Change Myth #9: Ignoring your feelings of discontent is a good way to handle them.
If you are daydreaming about options, and thinking about “what ifs”, then these thoughts are just going to get stronger. They will turn into longings. You push these thoughts aside with other thoughts such as you are too old to change, you don’t want to take a loss in pay, you don’t want to go back to college and you already missed the boat.
Career Change Myth #10: My skills only apply to my job.
Many skills are transferable and useful elsewhere. We see this with those coming home from the military. Their skills earned in their government job can be applied in the private sector.
As long as you are prepared and qualified, there are not many reasons to defer changing careers. If you have been laid off, your company might provide educational opportunities for retraining. Some cities also offer free or low cost training programs. Also don’t overlook the opportunity to take your skills and freelance or consult in your chosen field. Finally, consult with a job coach for expert advice and an objective opinion.