Is Fear Keeping You Stuck?

Are you tired of your job and eager to explore something new? Or perhaps you’ve been laid off and are secretly pleased about the prospect of a change—even if you didn’t initiate it.

If you relate to either scenario, you’ve probably been imagining the possibility of a change and how your life would be different if you were satisfied, even delighted with your job.

So, there you are, happily engaged in your own future fantasy when the big questions hit: How am I going to navigate this big change and where do I even start? You suddenly go blank and your “I can do this!” mindset shifts to “What was I thinking?” You’re stuck and fear of the unknown is most likely the cause.

In order to move forward, you’ll need to stop circling your thoughts around all the things you don’t know (e.g. what, where, when and how much) to those aspects of the change you are clear about. Here’s how to begin:

• Create a list of the reasons for this change. Typically, this list will reflect what is missing or unsatisfying in your current position

• Next to each item on your list, write what you want in response to whatever is not working. Be as specific as you can.

Here are a few examples:

What is not working:                               What I want instead:

Bored, no challenge.                                  Opportunity to learn something new.

Commute is too long.                                 Workplace within 30 minutes from home.

Boss who’s a micro-manager.                    Chance to work more independently.

Work is not meaningful to me.                    Feel like I make a difference in my job.

Not using skills I enjoy.                               Feel engaged and fully using my competencies.

Your lists will help you refocus on what you want, rather than concentrating on what you are unsure of. From this place of clarity, you can begin to explore the options that might fit your criteria.

In addition, this list will shape questions you ask during exploratory meetings or job interviews to determine if the setting or position is a good match for you.

Keep in mind that fear is not always a warning that you should stop what you are doing or that there is real danger ahead. If fear is coupled with a feeling of positive anticipation (like butterflies in your stomach), it could signal a new experience that will challenge your limits in a good way.

The combination of fear and exhilaration can be a sign that you should move forward and take the risk, rather than retreat because you are facing into the unknown.