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Do you want to change careers, but feel stuck and full of doubt? Maybe you have a dream career goal and have researched it thoroughly. Maybe you’ve gone as far as undertaking preliminary training. Despite this, you aren’t ready to commit.

If this sounds like you, you’ll notice that you lack confidence despite having lots of information about your ideal career. The reason? You can’t conceptualise yourself in the role. Secretly you wonder ‘what will it be like? What will be required of me?’

This doubt – about who you are in relation to a new profession – is a common reason I see many people holding back from change. It’s easy enough to research a job description, but that isn’t the same as understanding what you – as an individual – will need to step into an alternative career. WHO will you need to be to do that?

Why Doubt Can Hold You Back From Your Dream Career In Midlife

At the start of our working lives, we begin to explore who we are and what we have to offer in a professional capacity. We may feel there is a lot of time to choose another career. We might take more risks. At this stage, we might be more inclined to ‘go with the flow’ with our hobbies and interests without needing to know where they’ll lead.

By midlife, we have developed our skills and experience and now have an individual story of who we are and what we are capable of. We may also have gained multiple responsibilities (such as a mortgage or children), with their own financial and practical considerations. Decision-making needs to be strategic. Self-doubt makes us cautious. The combination of these factors means that we might not want to follow our interests and see where they lead. We want certainty. Even if we have a dream career goal, our passion may not be enough to guarantee our commitment to it.

An Activity To Untangle Career Doubt

So, if you are full of doubt about your dream career goal, what can you do? Grab a pen and paper or use your favourite device to complete this short brainstorming activity.

1. Write down your doubting thoughts concerning your ideal career.

Get them out of your head. No edits. Examples of common doubts are: ‘I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage.’ ‘I don’t know if I have what it takes to do the job well’.

Keep going until you have listed all your main doubts.

2. Review your list of doubts and notice if there are common themes.

You may notice a repetition of the same doubt, phrased differently – if you do, decide which phrase best represents the core meaning of your doubt. Or write a new phrase that describes it more accurately.

3. For each doubt listed, brainstorm what you would need to know to alleviate the doubt.

Be specific. For example, ‘I would need to know how tiring the job is.’ ‘I would need to know if my personality type would fit the role’.

4. Brainstorm practical ways you could find out what you want to know.

Don’t worry if they seem silly, or if you do not yet know if they are possible. Write them down anyway. For example ‘I could have a one-day job trial’, ‘I could call HR and ask them about the role’. Come up with as many options as possible.

5. Lastly, identify which of these practical steps you CAN do, and commit to doing them.

Decide when you will take action and commit to it in your diary. When you have completed the steps, repeat steps 4 and 5 until your doubt shifts.

I hope this activity helps you to gain the clarity you need in your career decision making. Even if you realise your fantasy career is a definite ‘no!’, coming to this understanding will free you to make other choices. Don’t let doubt keep you stuck!

This tool is by no means the only way to resolve career doubt – if you would like 1:1 support to do so, you can find out more via a free 30-minute consultation call. Find out more about my career coaching packages here.

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