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6 Personal Fears Holding You Back From Your Dream Career

Instead of letting your fears hold you back, here's how you can push past each one to finally create a career you love.

Are you fed up with making less than you’re worth or feeling unfulfilled at your current job? You’re not alone. According to a survey by Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation, 71 percent of respondents said that they’re looking to change employers.

The survey also found that 45 percent of respondents said they “rarely or never” get the money they deserve and 44 percent believe that they are “always or often” overlooked.

If you’re one of the many people thinking about a change to move into your dream job, you might hesitate to take the plunge. After all, change can be difficult. Instead of letting the following fears hold you back, it’s time to start becoming aware of them and how you can push past each one to finally create a career you love.

1. Fear of uncertainty

It’s common for people to stay at a job they don’t enjoy because of uncertainty or fear of the unknown -- not knowing what the future holds after making a career change can be scary.

To curb your fear of uncertainty, plan ahead -- don’t jump in right away. Start by using a planner like this Growth Mindset printable from Happiness Planner. Use it to create a step-by-step plan for getting to your dream job, making you feel more confident and certain in the changes that need to happen.

2. Fear of rejection

No one wants to leave a stable job and chase their passion only to be greeted with rejection.“You don’t have enough experience,” you might worry about hearing. The first step in eliminating this fear of rejection is to accept that you will inevitably face challenges throughout your journey -- and everyone has to start somewhere.

Be realistic about what you can do right now. If you’re making a total career change, you may need to go back to school first, or leave a comfortable management position for an entry-level assistant job. When you’re realistic about where you are and what you have to learn, you’re less likely to experience that rejection you’re so fearful of.

3. Fear of rocking the boat

Perhaps your dream career is with the company you’re already at -- but you can’t seem to get to the position you desire. Your fear of rocking the boat may be what’s holding you back -- an experience that is especially prevalent among women.

“I feel most women are taught and encouraged to just go with the flow. If there is a process or protocol at work that they disagree with, or they have an alternative solution, women aren’t encouraged, and often not confident enough, to offer solutions or suggestions to these things. Instead, they just go with the flow,” says Sarah O’Brien Hammond, a top recruiter in New York City.

How do you move past this fear? Find your voice and share your ideas. Hammond suggests, “Men offer solutions and encourage change all the time and we need to be as vocal as men. We need to be raising our hands more often, speaking our mind and encouraging the right changes to better position us as women to be successful.”

4. Fear of change

Most people don’t like change and the feeling it brings. You have a routine -- it’s familiar and familiarity makes even a bad job manageable. Embarking on a new career will undoubtedly change your routine -- for example, it might require more hours away from your family or a smaller paycheck -- and that’s enough to hold even the most ambitious career climbers back.

Rather than letting this fear of change take over, find ways to embrace it. Think about other times in your life when significant changes occurred, and see that you were, in fact, okay when it was all over. Use this as inspiration as you anticipate and analyse what the biggest changes will be during this transition. The sooner you become aware of these changes, the better you can accept and prepare for them.

5. Fear of not being enough

If you’re in a low-level position, it may be hard to imagine yourself in your dream career, for fear that you lack the necessary skills, attitude and experience: “Many times, we’ll feel drawn to a position or project and stop ourselves, making the excuse that we don’t have the experience or education to pursue a path that seems to be calling to us,” says Kristen Knepper, executive coach and consultant. But this fear doesn’t have to stop you from moving into your dream career.

Instead, Knepper suggests, “Understanding how your experience and education translates to a career change or promotion is key to creating confidence within one’s self, and then demonstrating that confidence to decision makers. Don’t be afraid to use transition jobs and informal experience to demonstrate your point.” This means considering how your experience can help you make the first step, and then using each move after that as leverage for the next one.

6. Fear of being judged

Making a big decision, like pursuing a dream job, is going to be met with some judgment, whether it’s from your family, friends or co-workers. There will always be nay-sayers, but remember: that reflects their attitude and mindset, not yours. In many cases, they may be jealous of your move or frustrated that they’re stuck in a job they don’t like.

Don’t let that discourage you. Find a community of like-minded individuals that understand what you’re trying to achieve and can offer up support. Look for Master Mind groups and networking opportunities where you can build a circle of people who lift you up and encourage your aspirations.

Take the Next Step

Acknowledge your fears and use these ideas to push past them. Your dream career is only a few chess moves away, so consider how you can get there, prepare for big life changes and education needs and then advocate for yourself with confidence.

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