5 career change traps to watch out for

Making a career change can be a messy journey. But knowing some of the traps to watch out for can make the whole process much more enjoyable (and a lot less stressful!). By Jacqui Ooi.

1. The ‘epiphany’ trap! If you’re not sure what you want to do next, you might be hoping that a lightbulb moment will come. But unless you’re taking practical steps to test and try out different career options, you could be waiting a long time! It’s almost impossible to think or Google your way to a new career. More often than not, that will just leave you feeling overwhelmed with possibilities and information, but without the clarity or confidence you need to move forward.

2. The ‘self-doubt’ trap! This is a biggie for many of us and can manifest in different ways – from not being sure if you should listen to that gut feeling of needing a change, to feeling as though you’re not qualified to be doing the new thing you want to do. And often this happens even though a) you’ve got a ton of professional and lived experience b) you’ve got a ton of transferrable skills c) you’re brilliant and capable with unique talents and ideas to offer or d) all of the above!

3. The ‘rush to study’ trap! Of course, you may need to do some study or professional development to support your next career move but there’s a time and place for where this fits into your career change strategy. Enrolling in a course BEFORE you’ve taken some practical steps to test your career idea could end up being a costly mistake. Just because you find the course interesting doesn’t mean you’ll love the day-to-day of working in that career. Similarly, continually accumulating more qualifications at the expense of road-testing the career you’ve been thinking about might feel like you’re moving forward but could actually be keeping you in your comfort zone.

4. The ‘avoidance’ trap! There can be so much to figure out and take on as you shift towards a different career path and some days, it can all feel too hard. Our response to this can be avoidance – usually of the one small but critical step that will actually move us forward. It feels more comfortable to focus your energy on the things that are familiar or come easily to you, but pushing through the discomfort and putting yourself out there will feel much better (and bring greater rewards) in the long run.

5. The ‘going it alone’ trap! It can be so easy to lose motivation or stay stuck on your career change journey without the support of other people. The whole process will be more enjoyable and successful with the knowledge, support, connections and fresh perspectives that others can offer. So don’t get caught in the trap of going it alone. Talk to people. Make new connections. Broaden your circle and build a support network that will stretch you, enlighten you and champion you!  

Jacqui Ooi is the founder of What She Did Next, a podcast and online learning platform for women who want to make a career change. A two-time career changer herself and an experienced mentor, she teaches practical strategies to help women navigate their career change journey.

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