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Advice / Career Paths / Career Change

4 Excuses You Make When You're Scared to Change Careers

There are lots of reasons why people stay in their comfort zones, like the riskiness of a new step, the fear of inconsistent income, or pressure from others.

And while starting anything new poses challenges, you don’t want fear to keep you from pursuing your dreams

As a business and career transition coach, I've seen people hold themselves back with their own excuses. They talk themselves out of going after what they want. But, once they realize they’ve been building a case against themselves, they’re able to stop saying “What if…” and start saying “Why not…”

If you’re guilty of saying (or even thinking) any the following lines, consider this a sign that you’re holding yourself back.

1. “I’m Happy Enough Where I Am”

I hear people use the phrase “good enough” all the time. And usually, it’s when they’re trying to justify a less-than-perfect situation, or talk themselves out of aiming higher.

Think about it—have you ever used the phrase “happy enough” when you were actually happy?

People say this when they have a dream on the back burner that they’re trying to ignore.

“Happy enough” is an excuse that works—temporarily. But, it usually means that something bigger is brewing.

Move Past It

It’s true: In the short term, it’s probably easier to keep climbing the ladder in your current industry, than to learn new skills or even take a pay cut to make a career change.

But, think ahead to five years from now. Are you still happy—enough (or even at all)—in your current sector, or are you totally burned out? What if you switched fields? Would you love your job?

Once you see staying where you are as a Band-Aid (and not a permanent solution), making the change is less of a risk.

2. “It's Not Financially Possible”

Financial challenges are incredibly consuming on both a logistical and an emotional level. You may be dealing with student or credit card debt, trying to save for an apartment or a house, or just trying to pay bills from month to month.

If making the change requires an investment in additional education or training, or even the business itself, you might think it’s more responsible to wait.

Especially if you already feel overwhelmed when it comes to managing your finances, the thought of accruing additional expenses (or debt) can feel like a deal-breaker.

Move Past It

When I started my business, I enlisted the help of a money coach. She helped me feel more in control of my finances and changed my outlook on my spending and saving.

Instead of putting aside your goals, find a trusted resource who can help you understand your money and start a conversation about how it can work for you, not against you. (And if not right now, when.)

Related: A Career Changer’s Guide to Switching Industries Without Going Broke

3. “I've Already Invested Too Much”

Getting to where you are took hard work. You invested your time and money in trainings and degrees, and spent years climbing the ladder to reach your current position.

The thought of doing it all again feels overwhelming. Just the train of thought is enough to shut down even the most exciting of ambitions.

Who wants to start from zero again?

Move Past It

Change your thinking: You won’t actually be starting from scratch. While not all of your current skills may apply, it’s not like that experience disappears, and many will still be relevant.

Think about the qualities that help you excel at your current job. Chances are, many of them will be useful in your dream career, too—that’s why you’re gravitating towards it!

Everything you’ve done has helped you grow, and transferable skills may even help you be a more compelling candidate.

4. “I’ll Disappoint People I Care About”

You may feel pressure to stay in your current career so you don’t risk disappointing anyone.

You don’t want to put your family through the uncertainty of a big transition. Or, you might feel indebted to colleagues why rely on you, or managers who’ve mentored you or helped elevate your career. Even friends can be quick to cast judgments on big life changes.

Move Past It

First, remember that most people in your life want the best for you. If someone in your life expresses disappointment, realize that their advice, while well-meaning, may be misguided.

The last excuse career changers make is “It’s too big a risk.” There’s no getting around the fact that big steps do inherently come with risk. But if you’re not happy with your current job, and can picture yourself much happier doing something entirely different, than a major change may be just what you need.

Photo of person thinking courtesy of Daniel Ingold/Getty Images