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4 Tips To Overcome Career Transition Anxiety

You must be willing to embrace change, before you can act on it.

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The U.S. workforce has millions of employees that cling to jobs they hate. Some stay due to comfort, as most become accustomed to salary and benefits along with fearing unsteady income. It makes sense when you consider that 63% of Americans don't have $500 of savings to cover an emergency, according to a survey from Bankrate.com. Some who consider switching jobs rightfully fear discrimination in the job market — be it race, age or gender-related. Others are always waiting for the other shoe to drop — in the form of a recession, the possibility of being downsized or the misguided notion that they'll never find an opportunity as good as the one they currently have. Some are convinced with certainty that, with any kind of career change, they'll fail. The underlying root of all excuses comes down to fear. Scientific evidence backs this claim, as "changing to a different line of work" ranks 18th out of the top 43 stressors on the Holmes Rahe Stress Inventory chart.

Related: Considering a Career Change? Here's the Truth About the Messy Middle.

Pursuing a different career path is a major change — and experiencing fear and anxiety about that change is a normal and healthy reminder of the gravity of the situation. The same weight carries when deciding whether to get married, or have children, or try out for the lead in the school play. In each of these scenarios, most of us faced our fears and took the proverbial chance. No matter what stage of life you find yourself in currently, you can do it again. So, in the spirit of "can do," here are some tips for overcoming career transition anxiety.

Explore your fear

Fear of the unknown is a normal reaction to any major change and should be acknowledged. A healthy exercise is to explore your fears in a way that addresses your doubts. Something as simple as creating a list of pros and cons can be effective. Once completed, you can assess the real risk, potential obstacles and how you plan to overcome them. As you progress through your proposed career transition plan, it's important to seek the buy-in of your own personal support group. This includes family, close friends, colleagues, and mentors. People you trust to provide you with emotional support and encouragement. They'll all likely play a big part in your eventual success.

Do research

If you're an accountant who works 70 hour weeks, but you'd rather run a dog daycare business, do some research before making the move. It's well worth your time to investigate the business model of this desired venture — or any others that come to mind. Find out what's required — be it capital, bandwidth, staffing and regulations. You can easily network with others already in the industry and discover firsthand how to manage your own expectations. After all, knowledge is power.

Related: Career Transitions You Can Make in Your 40s and 50s

Seek professional help

Many people who begin a career transition do so out of necessity, but you don't have to wait for a layoff to get started. Consultants are everywhere, the majority of which offer free counseling services for those seeking an alternate career path. The franchising industry in particular includes several national organizations, made up of consultants and brokers who are more than happy to meet — free of charge — to discuss alternative options, along with which business models are a fit for your preferences. Entrepreneur's Franchise Advisors can help get the ball rolling and offer guidance through the process. Another great place to start is SCORE, a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They're the nation's largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, dedicated to helping small business owners get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. If you'd like more information, be sure to check out the Franchising 101 podcast from franchise advisor, Tim Parmeter, dedicated to educating listeners on all things related to franchise ownership.

Set realistic goals for progress

Studies show that writing down your goals, and the steps necessary to achieve them, greatly increases your chances of success. Begin by creating your own reasonable timetable, with regular check-ins to measure your progress. Taking action — no matter how insignificant you think it may be — is instrumental in reducing your conscious fear and anxiety about change. According to most behavioral experts, there is one thing most people fear even more than failure: regret.

Best of luck out there to those who choose to pursue a career transition.

Related: Four Signs It's Time For A Career Change

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