How to Be Brave Enough to Change Your Career and Pursue Your Dreams

Reading time: 5 minutes

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life”.Maya Angelou

You’re running towards a point where the earth stops and the sky starts.

As you get nearer you realize you’re actually hurtling towards a chasm.

You try to slow down, to stop as the ground runs out but your momentum is too strong and all you manage to do is stumble and trip as you plummet over the edge.

The ground rushes up to meet you and you realize in the moment before you hit ‘this is going to hurt’.

And then you wake up with a start….sweaty, knotted stomach, shaking, feeling sick.

Be honest.

This is what you feel like when you think of changing careers. Of giving up your ‘safe’ job and starting out all over again.

You fear ending up living under a cardboard box in the street begging for change to support you and your family. Or failing miserably at your new career and being shunned by your former friends.

A little dramatic maybe, but fear does that to you.

Because that’s the only thing standing between you and your dream life and career – fear.

And every time you peep over into the chasm of career change, it paralyzes you.

Here’s the thing: there’s a lot of good advice telling you stuff like ‘All you have to fear is fear itself‘ and often that’s true. But here’s the other thing. You know that already! And that knowledge hasn’t helped you make that career leap at all.

I’ve learned something about fear that turned my life around – it doesn’t go away. It’s stickier than sidewalk gum.

So how can you ever find the courage to jump into the chasm and grab that great new career and life?

The answer is to have a reason more powerful than the fear itself.

How To Find The Courage

1.”Life is too short to waste time waiting for other people’s approval on how you live it.” – Steve Maraboli

None of us like to disappoint people, especially those close to us. Maybe your parents put you through college, perhaps your partner supported you while studying. Fear of letting them down, of disappointing them, can be a total paralyser.

And yet by not chasing down your dream career, you’re facing a lifetime of self-disappointment.Ouch! Doing less than you know you’re capable of is pulling the trigger on your self-esteem.

Visualize yourself five years from now, ten even. Decide that the face you’ll see has eyes sparkling with passion, a smile bursting with confidence, head held high by the self-respect and confidence gained by finding the courage to go after the career and life you deserve.

2.“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” – Philip Pullman

Wherever you are right now, you’ve done well. In fact ironically as you’re not in your dream career, you’ve done incredibly well. You’ve managed to be a square peg in a round hole well enough to keep life ticking along.

But the fact that it’s a struggle is the clue that you are going against the core you. You’re sacrificing yourself on the altar of your current employment to no avail, living a half-life at best.

Decide today that you will let your light shine and your heart leap with joy in the career that will embrace and nurture your unique qualities and talents.

3. “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Okay, it’s time to admit it – life just isn’t fair. Conscientiously trekking along the wrong path is never going to be rewarding. And to rub some extra salt in, you see how fast the world is changing? It’s not easy keeping up by any means.

Hesitating in making that career leap may well be the most dangerous thing you ever do. Decide today that ‘nowhere’ isn’t going to be your final resting place. ‘Somewhere’ has a space that is exactly the same shape and size as you – one that only you can fill.

4. “A dead end street is a good place to turn around.” – Naomi Judd

Wonder why you’re exhausted so much of the time? By chasing the wrong career you end up working twice as hard, fighting against yourself. Forever banging against a dead end wall will take every last screed of energy, enthusiasm and optimism you have.

Now, imagine that wall falling at your slightest push.

There’s an incredible phenomenon that occurs when you’re fired up by following your purpose –seemingly insurmountable obstacles shrink and crumble in direct proportion to your excitement, commitment and vision.

5.“I lost my passion for work. No, that’s a negative statement. I just had a bigger passion for something else, for my son, and growing up with him”. James Caan

Childhood is long on memories and short on time. Make sure they are the right memories and the longest time. Your children are an intrinsic part of your life, your hopes, your dreams. Don’t look back and see only missed smiles, missed bedtimes and missed never-to be-recaptured moments.

Picture sitting with your children, now grown up with little ones of their own. You’re laughing over those memories and they lean over and tell you that you were the most incredible role model they could have ever had. You were and are their inspiration.

Decide to manifest your dream career and life for your, and your children’s future.

6. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

You aren’t your job title but with the amount of time you wear that hat, it can be hard to disassociate yourself from it. And why should you? If you’re doing the work you love, it isn’t work, it’s simply being you, making a successful income along the way. Heck, your title could be a badge to wear proudly.

Imagine it’s hard to find where your job ends and your life starts, not because you work too many hours, but because they’re so beautifully blended. You have the power to create that. Start by writing your perfect job title, visualize it on a door, brass plaque, up in lights, on a gallery wall…whatever works for you.

7. “Money Isn’t Everything, But It’s Right Up There With Oxygen.” – Zig Ziglar

It’s perfectly natural to fear a reduction in income or benefits from a career change. But you know what’s much harder to see is the slowing down of advancement when you’re in the wrong career.

The risks that seem so apparent over changing careers are in fact much less in financial terms than the risk of staying in a career that will never, ever give you the good things in life you crave.

Make That Change

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

Feeling brave?

Well, I’m not asking you to make that career leap right here, right now.

Instead, I’ll ask you just one question…

You have the knowledge, the opportunity and the reason to change careers, to create an incredible future, to be a powerful role model for your kids, to live your life, your way.

So are you drawing back from the edge because of your position, your finances, your kids …because of your fears?

Instead, make your reason bigger than your fear.

And then jump.

Over to you. What one thing could you do today to overcome your fear and pursue your dream. Let me know in the comments below…

Bio: Laura Tong is on a mission to help you become the most positive, happy version of yourself. Download her free cheat sheet: 5 Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict) 

 

Laura Tong

Laura Tong

Laura Tong is on a mission to help you become the most positive, happy version of yourself. Download her free cheat sheet: 5 Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict) 

43 Comments

  • Laura & Mark, thanks for a great post!

    I have experienced all the points above, these two have kept me on track for- #2.“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” – Philip Pullman. And # 1.”Life is too short to waste time waiting for other people’s approval on how you live it.” – Steve Maraboli.

  • Elle, thank you so much for the chance to contribute something back to your incredible site and all the wonderful inspiration it’s given me over and over. Laura xx

  • Thanks for these helpful insights. I love this first Maya Angelou quote so much! I spent many years of my life in a career that didn’t drive with my soul. I wish I had this encouragement back then. It was such a relief to finally leave and align with my heart’s true purpose.

    • Oh Sandra, what a wonderful way to describe it ‘a career that didn’t drive my soul’ – that says absolutely everything. I’m so delighted that you now have, for you but also for all those who gain so much from the wonderfully positive outlook you imbue in all of your posts. Thank you.

    • Thank you Suzie. I’m delighted this post spoke to you. And how could you not love Zig Ziglar – oh to have that command over putting thoughts into words. I wish you every success and enormous enjoyment along every step of your journey. Elle’s blog is the perfect spot for inspiration and motivation.

  • Laura, nice quotes and insightful expansions of them. I actually chuckled at the third quote from Lao Tzu. 🙂 Anyway, you’re so right that fear won’t go away, so we have to find a reason that’s larger than it is to move through and beyond it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Hi Michelle…you are so right. I used to have a paralyzing fear of going to the dentist so I put it off, but once I got toothache the pain was worse than the fear…and it turns out pain is larger than fear! 🙂

    • Thank you for your wonderful thoughts Michelle. I also love William James’ “To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.” it sets me off on the process of change with excitement and inspires me to take larger actions than I might otherwise. And as for fear, well once we have something larger than it, it doesn’t stand a chance of stopping us charging after our purpose. 🙂

  • Your post was beautiful and Inspiring. I really enjoyed it. Fear and I have been bitter enemies for awhile. I am an introvert who dislikes talking to people so I’m familiar with fear on that front. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist who lets my fear of being wrong paralyze me . One thing that helps me is a quote I heard from I no longer remember where that said,” Fear and faith are two sides of the same coin. They are both a belief in an outcome that has no proof currently to support it. Only difference is that faith is a positive belief and fear is a negative belief. You must decide for yourself whether you will have faith in the positive or fear the negative.” if there is no proof either way than why not believe in the life you want instead of wasting energy attreacting what you don’t want. Easier said than done, but I am working on it. Keep up the good work.

    • Hello Kat..I love your quote on fear. I too have this belief in assumptions…you can assume something will work out well…or not. Neither happen to be true in this moment, so why not swing for the fences and choose the one that feels better. And as for being easier said than done…I think that’s because we have to practice it! 🙂

    • Hi Kat, thanks so much for joining this discussion with your thoughts and honest feelings. I too am an introvert but for the longest time I thought it was more a case of having no social skills or confidence. Recognizing myself within the ‘introvert label’ actually helped me enormously because it showed me that often it wasn’t fear getting in my way, it was more a case of putting myself in, or ending up in situations, jobs etc that suited anyone except me! Changing career for me was a major element in having so many fearful, awkward or uncomfortable situations evaporate into the ether. Doing what I love has not only stripped so many away but definitely transcends those elements that maybe still aren’t my absolute happy place. Keep on with your journey Kat, you’re taking great strides to where you want to be.

  • Thank you for this great post, Laura. I love this part: “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb. Sometimes I which I’ve started earlier, it rang true.

    • Thank you so much Cephas – wonderful to see you here. That quote hits me every time I read it, I always wish I’d started earlier when I look back and now I use that to help me keep moving forward , whether it’s a mini step or what feels like leaping across a chasm. 🙂

  • Love this, Laura. I made the decision years ago that I will not live according to my fears. It does get scary, and I have to use all my mental health tools and put on my big gitrl panities at times. But life is so much better, and I am so much happier. It is true that on the other side of fear is freedom…and always growth I’ve found! 🙂

    • Thank you for your wonderfully positive thoughts Debbie – you really made me giggle. It’s always worth pulling on big girl panties, for sure! I’m so delighted that you moved to a better, happier place with more freedom – enjoy 🙂

  • Though it’s not easy being your own boss, having to prospect to bring in clients, juggle and meet deadlines . . .

    There is absolutely nothing like it.

    If you want a challenge – then challenge yourself! Working for yourself is the ultimate way to challenge yourself!

    And that’s from a woman who spent 27 years in corporate America!

    Great post Laura!

    • Hello Quinn, how lovely to have you here. What a great point of view you have…challenge yourself. Love it. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your words of wisdom. 🙂

  • Love this! I’ve been there, done this and know that the only way we have to go is forward. We are worth making the choice to express who we are, fitting into the mold that is sized only for us. Thanks for bringing it all home!

  • Laura, thank you for this post – loved how you creatively used the quotes to make your point. Thank you for giving us the courage to do the things we truly desire 🙂

  • Thank you for this, Laura & Elle. I spent over twenty years diligently doing work that was utterly wrong for me. It was exhausting and soul-crushing. We must call on our courage and change direction as soon as we realize we’re going the wrong way! I came across something worth remembering a while back…….. F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real

    • Hello Camilla and welcome…I absolutely agree with you. Laura really has knocked this one out of the park! As you say, so many people can relate to the fact that it’s all too easy to stay stuck because of fear. 🙂

  • hi Laura
    Reading this is now is one of the best decisions i have made today!! nothing feels better and gives so much fulfillment than doing what you love that transcends beyond you.I love this piece and i really appreciate you for sharing this.

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