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The Biggest Reason You Haven’t Made a Career Change (And What to Do About It)

If you’re like so many other professionals, you’ve been thinking about making a career change for a long time. You’ve fantasized about leaving your current job and doing something more fulfilling, challenging, or rewarding. But you haven’t… You’re motivated to make a change. You know all the reasons why leaving is the right thing to do. So what is stopping you?

The biggest reason you haven’t made a change yet is that you don’t know what you want. You might have a job title in mind. You might have a sense of what you’re looking for in a new company. But you haven’t crystallized your vision.

Making a career change is very difficult. As humans, our natural tendency is to stay in our comfort zones, even if those comfort zones make us unhappy. The prospect of change triggers our primitive instincts to protect ourselves from threats. This leads to all kinds of excuses and justifications for inaction.

To battle the inherent forces of inertia and resistance to change, you need something even more powerful. A vague or incomplete vision of what you want from your next step is not strong enough to carry you through the inevitable fear and anxiety you’ll face during a career transition. To commit to real change, you need an inspirational goal to drive you.

Having coached hundreds of professionals through career transitions over the past several years, the most consistent theme I’ve observed has been their inability to clearly articulate what they want. Some know what they want to do but they don’t know where. Others have a vague sense of what they’d like to do but they don’t fully know what that looks like. Still others have no idea what they want to do – they just don’t want to continue doing what they’re doing now.

The problem with this lack of clarity is that it creates doubt. The unanswered questions and incomplete information weaken your resolve, leaving room for all kinds of thoughts and feelings to derail you. When you know exactly what you want, you can be intentional in your actions and more courageous in your efforts.

If you’ve been dreaming about a career change but haven’t taken action, or haven’t completed the process, it’s time to pause and reflect on what you truly want – not at a superficial level but at a very deep level. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is motivating me to make a change?

Be clear and specific about what’s missing from your current work. What are you hoping a new job will do for you?

2. What does my new job need to look like for me to feel fulfilled?

This is more than a question about job responsibilities. What are all of the criteria that are important to you?

3. What am I still unsure about?

Before you can get the answers you need, you have to know the questions. If you’re unclear about what you want, what do you still need to sort out before you can clarify your vision?

If you’d like more help getting clear about your next step, join the free 7 Days to a New Career Direction Challenge!

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