How to Manage the Doubters and the Naysayers When Changing Careers

by Segaric, Annemarie Tuesday, September 18, 2007
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Career changes–or really any big change for that matter–involve a measure of fear and doubt. This is normal. What is also normal is for a career change to attract critics to us like a magnet. UGH! It’s frustrating to have to deal with people questioning your decisions and actions when you yourself are trying to manage your own concerns. I’ve had clients say to me, “Like I really need someone else to ask me if I’m really sure about making such a big change! Don’t they realize I’ve agonized for an endless amount of time over this.” Ok, so what do you do?

First, remember it’s normal for other people to question you when you begin to do something different than either what you’ve been doing or what they are used to you doing. Human beings are not fond of change and question its necessity.

Second, remember, nothing is personal. When someone questions you about how you could leave your well-paying job, they are almost always thinking more about themselves and less about you. I remember when I left one of my many corporate jobs without having another one (yes, I didn’t have another job and quit anyway!), the backlash was intense. I had one person go as far as to ask me, “But how are you going to pay your bills?” It felt to me at the time like she assumed I was doing this recklessly and hadn’t worked out a plan. I had but she didn’t know that. In retrospect, I saw that she wasn’t really worried about me and my bills; she was just imagining how she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills if she were to quit then and was really just talking to herself. It helps to see that other people’s comments are often their own personal concerns that they unload on us.

And finally, surround yourself with plenty of people who do believe in what you are about to do and who support your decisions. It’s so important to have a support structure in place that you can rely on as you go through the ups and downs of changing careers. The naysayers and the doubters are often not ill-intentioned. Your actions have simply pushed their fear buttons and they can’t but help react to you. Make sure you have people like mentors, friends, family members, a coach, or other careers changers who you can turn to who are secure in themselves and optimistic about what is possible for you to accomplish. They are an excellent defense against the critics!

© 2007 Segaric Coaching Inc.