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Facing 4 of the Most Stressful Career-Related Fears

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is a tool used to assess the amount of stress a person is experiencing. The creators of the test gave a numerical value to 43 common life stressors. For example, “Minor violation of the law” receives a score of 12 while “death of spouse” gets a score of 100. (You can take the assessment if you’re curious.)

Nearly one-fifth of the most stressful life events revolve around work:

  • Being fired from work = 47

  • Retirement from work = 45

  • Major business readjustment = 39

  • Changing to a different line of work = 36

  • Major change in responsibilities at work = 29

  • Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home = 26

  • Troubles with the boss = 23

  • Major changes in working hours or conditions = 20

Because of the stress we experience relative to our careers, is it any wonder that we become fearful when we think about making a career transition?

Let’s take a look at four of the most stressful career-related fears and how we can face them.

Fear #1: I’m not in the driver’s seat.

If you have ever experienced a career or job change, you know how much stress and fear are associated with loss of control. You can quickly feel as if you’re no longer the one in the driver’s seat.

Even in the midst of transitioning from one job or career to another, it’s possible to remain in the driver’s seat. You simply don’t have to face the stress or fear you would experience if you surrender control to your circumstances, to your boss, to the job market, or to prospective employers. No! The stress and fear will subside when you become proactive, developing and managing a plan to get from where you are to where you determine you want to be. Take the wheel and direct it where you want it to go.

Fear #2: It’s too late for me to try something different.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people change jobs between 11 and 12 times during their careers. While about half of those job changes happen in the first decade of people’s careers, there’s no magic age at which it becomes too late to try something different.

If you believe you lack the ability or experience to venture in a new direction, you limit your options. The key is to adopt and maintain a growth mindset. In the Harvard Business Review, Carol Dweck writes:

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

Is your mindset fixed? Or, do you have a growth mindset? If you continue to expand your horizons and if you’re open to learning new things, you can face the prospect of a job or career transition with confidence.

Fear #3: Career transitions are lonely.

The mere thought of loneliness causes stress for extroverts and introverts alike. If you sit at home and fire resumes to every job posting that looks interesting, your fear is well-founded. However, if you approach your transition the right way, it will be anything but lonely.

Successful transitions rely almost completely on your network of relationships. Your ability to connect with friends and to secure their help in getting you in front of decision-makers is a key factor in completing a successful transition and actually enjoying the process.

Rather than sitting at home and stressing out about how you’re going to find a job, get out there and be with people. You will be surprised at the momentum you gain from their willingness to help.

Fear #4: It’s too risky for me to make a move.

Change is stressful. But for those who have the courage to face the fear, the rewards can be incredible.

Think of change as a shiny coin. (Pun intended.) On one side, there’s a skull and crossbones. This side represents risk. If you are risk-averse, you focus almost entirely on this side of the coin. However, don’t forget about the other side of the change coin. There’s a star on the other side that represents reward. This side reminds us that there’s a different way to view the concept of change. There may be risks. But, there are also rewards.

Change can be scary. But, staying in the same place can be even scarier. This is where the coin analogy breaks down. If you work hard, remain in the driver’s seat, maintain a growth mindset, and leverage your network, you have a much higher than 50/50 chance of a rewarding job or career transition.

Do you need a guide?

If you’re exploring your career options, in the midst of a transition, or considering making a change, you would benefit from the wisdom and experience of a guide. Don’t give in to stress and fear. Contact us to learn how we can help.

Kevin Carr is a Career Coach at Rozzi and Associates, a leadership and organizational development company helping good leaders become great! Our programs start with the premise that great leadership skills are a product of time, practice and focused development. Our leadership development, emotional intelligence insight and career management programs can be customized to meet your desired outcomes and needs.

Susan Rozzi