Get clear on the fear that keeps you in a miserable job

When Alexa woke her up at 6:00 am on Monday morning, Lysa Hirshan told her twice to SNOOZE. The knot in Lysa’s stomach tightened as she envisioned heading to the office for yet another day in corporate agony. Ten minutes later she sighed, swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and willed herself to get moving.

Sound familiar? Many American workers stay in jobs they hate. According to a recent national survey by The Conference Board, only 50.8% of workers are satisfied with their jobs.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We become paralyzed, afraid to leave, similar to staying stuck in a love relationship we know has run its course.

However, in the same way we learn through experience that a relationship breakup can actually become a “breakthrough,” moving to a new position you genuinely enjoy can be a self-care gift to yourself.

We spend such a significant amount of our lives at work; let’s get clear on the fear that holds you back from getting a new job or making a career change.

Step 1: Define what keeps you from a switch

Is it:

  • Fear of a pay cut?
  • Fear of the time needed to re-school or recertify or start at entry level?
  • Potential embarrassment about your career dreams or what others will say?
  • Lack of information about how to make the switch?
  • Not knowing what you really want to do?
  • Feeling you have too much invested in your current career choice?
  • Worry that although this job is terrible, leaving might lead to something worse?
  • Low self-esteem or fear of failure?

Step 2: Time to embrace a mindset of “choice.”

You are never trapped in a job; you choose to stay in it. You can leave, even though there will be consequences. Acknowledging ramifications and developing plans to mitigate adverse results will empower you and reduce stress when you confront them head-on. Is it time to make a choice to move on?

Step 3: Calibrate your expectations and allow enough time

How long? Enough so you can break down the task into small steps spread over months. Consider the often-used analogy of trying to eat an elephant in one sitting. Sounds daunting! However, isn’t it a more manageable chore if you took many little bites over a year? Making a significant career shift all at once might also seem impossible. Breaking any change into smaller tasks allows you to celebrate small wins, which creates momentum. This momentum, once started, becomes the secret sauce of your success!

Look to the long-term future: setting a goal to be in a new field in 1 to 3 years is not unrealistic. You can “hop-scotch” your way there through options like taking a similar job to your current one in the industry you want to be in, or by finding volunteer opportunities to develop new skills, contacts and “success stories.” If your workplace is toxic, consider a “bridge job” while you retrain, reboot, and re-energize.

Can you articulate your fear? Name it, and claim it! I’m listening, as are all your fellow Bosses. Give us a shout out if this resonates with you.

In my next blog post, we’ll prescribe some easy steps you can take this year to start moving toward a job you will love.

This article first appeared on Bossed Up.