Ten Career Change Myths

career mythsMyth #1: You can’t make a living doing something you really enjoy

This is a well-known, age-old career myth… the belief that you can’t have a career that allows you a comfortable living doing something that you enjoy and are good at. This is an outdated concept, which stems from the times of our forefathers. Yes, of course you need to earn to provide for yourself, and for your family, but fear and a reluctance to step outside your comfort zone can prevent you from reaching your potential and earning a living doing what you’re passionate about. You don’t have to sacrifice on happiness to make a living, you just have to be willing to think creatively about what you’re good at, how you can earn from it, and be prepared to put in the work. If you enjoy what you do, believe me… it won’t feel like work!

If you find yourself buying into this myth, think about what you’ll regret more… following your passion or giving in to your fears! Now by no means am I suggesting that you give up on a job that pays to follow your dreams without thinking it through, planning, or getting the necessary advice… instead, what I’m saying, is that with motivation, creativity, focus and dedication, (as well as sound advice and judgement)… you can turn what you enjoy into a career.

Myth #2: It’s a tough economy

I’m not asking that you disbelieve news sources… when reports tell you that unemployment figures are rising, that businesses are downsizing or that there’s a slow economic recovery, this may in fact be true, BUT the important thing to remember is that this is not a complete picture. There are always businesses that do well, even in the worst of economic situations. The economy is changing, the way in which we progress through jobs is different, and hiring practices have changed. What makes it difficult to succeed is not necessarily the externally facing challenges, but that we are slow to change and adapt to changing circumstances. If we hold on to old behaviours and old practices, we’ll keep getting the same old (or worse) results. Old ways do work, and there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel when you don’t need to… but adaptation, (like getting the snow chains on your tyres when necessary), is key to being more effective in a world that is rapidly changing.

What I challenge you to do is to think about what you want to do, and to then make a list of all the ways in which you can tap into that market… It may not always be straightforward, but only when you make the effort to consider how it might be possible, can you work toward actual outcomes. You’d be surprised at the leads and opportunities you can generate when you change your mindset and approach things differently.

Myth #3: Changing careers is too risky

It’s true, one of the most risky things you can do is to pursue the unknown… or rather, to pursue what is unknown to you. Changing careers can also bring into question your sense of identity. Most of us have come to define ourselves by using what we do to earn a living as a point of reference. If what you do for a living isn’t what you enjoy or are passionate about, then you’re at risk of having a misaligned sense of identity… but the fear that outweighs this, is the fear of attempting a change, not succeeding, and losing a point of reference, and losing a sense of identity altogether.

If the longing for a career change is there… and you do your research, get the right advice, and make considered decisions, (without over-thinking things), then you minimise the risk. This should be your aim… minimise and take calculated risks.

Myth #4: Always have a back-up plan

The emphasis here is on ‘ALWAYS.’ Of course at times it can be prudent, and smart to have a backup plan. While it’s grown up and responsible, know that it’s not always possible to have a backup plan. It’s also important to realise that if you spend too much time focusing on your backup plan, it decreases the level of commitment to anything else and leaves you with less energy to focus on anything else. Decide what it is that you want, and commit to it, and do as much as you can to avoid the almost inevitable ‘what-ifs’ that leave nagging regrets.

Myth #5: There’s a perfect job out there for everyone

Yes, you’ve heard this one before… and maybe you’ve even wondered when you would come across that job that’s perfect for you, and matches your personality, skills and interests, and pays well. Perhaps you’ve even wondered exactly what this job would be.

So, is there a perfect job out there waiting for you? The answer is, thankfully, NO! Surprised? It’s a ‘thankful’ no, because there are more jobs out there than you can imagine that would fantastic for you. The problem tends to be knowing what that perfect job is, or not being on the lookout for it and missing the opportunity.

If you want a change, start looking and working toward one. Keep your eyes open, ask others to keep their ears to the ground, and look beyond the obvious.

Myth #6: The right thing to do is to ask “what is the best thing to do?”

We’ve all done it… It’s what we consider to be rule 1 when making most decisions. The logical thing to do is to weigh up the pros and cons and to evaluate. Something I learned, is that we often don’t know what the best thing is to do, so we can spend an endless amount of time agonising, and conjecturing. Instead, it’s better to ask three things: What’s the best possible outcome? What’s the worst possible outcome? What’s the most likely outcome? This is the same decision making technique used by top earners and high achievers! When you’ve considered these questions, it becomes easier to weigh up outcomes and make a decision. If you like, you can preface the above with ‘what do I really want to do?’

Myth #7: If you don’t like your job, you’re in the wrong job or career path

It’s normal to think that if you aren’t enjoying your job that it may not be right for you, or that your career path may not be the best (for you). Whilst being unhappy in a job is a reason to re-examine your situation, it may not be a reason to re-examine your job or career choice. What I would encourage you to do is to look at the context in which you’re working as well. Think about how things would change if you were in the same job but there was a different boss, or a different organisational culture, or a different division of tasks. What you need to do is to figure out what the real cause of your discontent is. It can be difficult to figure this out on your own,so it’s useful to have a sounding board in the form of a trusted advisor/coach or mentor.

Myth #8: You need a mission statement

There’s a lot of talk about knowing what your purpose and mission is. This is what gives us some form of guidance, helps to keep us on track, and steers us forward. If you can’t identify yours, or aren’t quite sure, don’t let this fool you into thinking that you’re destined to never reach your full potential or find your right career path. If you spend too much time pondering what your purpose and mission is, you may become so distracted by that, that you may miss out on actually pursuing it! A more useful place to start is with thinking about what you enjoy, and assessing what you’re good at.

Myth #9: Expect a career epiphany

A number of people keep thinking that they just need to figure out what it is that they want to do, and expect that one day, this will suddenly occur to them. If you are one of these… unfortunately, in most instances, this simply does not happen. It would be great if it did, and it was somehow clear to us what the next step was, but instead we have the career path of discovery, where details unfold in time, and we have to make the best possible choices we can along that journey. My advice… think of what you want, and learn from others to make informed decisions which give you a short-cut to where you want to be.

Myth #10: If you ignore it, (i.e. unhappiness in your career), it will go away

A key reminder… you can only ignore something that pesters for so long! At first it may be easy to ignore the feeling of discontent and focus on something else, but you can only push aside the feeling for so long. Eventually you will have to give in and re-assess your position. When doing this, bear in mind some of the myths I’ve highlighted, think through what you want, how committed you are to what you want, and whether you’re willing to succumb to change if that’s what’s required. If you are, and you’re willing to learn from others and utilise the wealth of expertise that is available to help make job, career and life decisions, then there’ll be no stopping you!

Good luck! I hope that you find career contentment and success!