5 Tips for Women Wishing to Change Career

Many of us would be more fulfilled in a different career, yet fear can hold us back from taking the big leap.  A colleague from the Women’s Inspire Network, Louise Brogan, reminded me that any woman who has had the courage to stand up and announce that they’re starting their own business is a role model in terms of breaking out of their comfort zones.  I think the same is true of any woman who stands up and says that they want to change their career to something that is completely different from what they’re doing now as they don’t want to die with a song still in them, as Oliver Windall Holmes would say.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur or you crave a different form of employment than what you’re currently in, I hope you will find these five tips helpful.


1. Psychological research shows that we regret the things that we don’t do far more than the things we do.  

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” is more than a quote by Mark Twain.  Psychological research has shown that the regret we feel when we have done something that we later regret as it was not in line with who we want to be is a much shorter period of regret and often more fruitful as it gives us key indicators as to who and what we want to be about in future.  Whereas, the regret of an unlived dream or passion, as cliché as that may sound, can often haunt us for a lifetime.

2. Only take guidance from those who are in a career that they love.

Family and friends will always dish out advice with what they believe are your best interests at heart.  However, part of our evolutionary make-up is that we are hard hardwired to want to avoid risk.  We feel especially protective of our nearest and dearest when they are about to take the big leap.  So if your family and friends are trying to steer you clear of a career change, please know that this has more to do with them attempting to protect you and less to do with your actual readiness and ability for the career change.

Instead, seek guidance from people who are actually already in a career that they love and who are where you want to be. 

This is what I did when I left my full-time, permanent, and pensionable well paying job as a psychologist in a hospital.  And I’m thankful every day that I did.  There are amazing groups for female entrepreneurs such as Women’s Inspire Network and Network Ireland, both of which I have found truly inspirational and motivating forums of support.


3. Realise that it’s perfectly normal and natural to have crises of confidence.

Whenever we try anything new, it would be unnatural and actually somewhat pathological to be confident.  As this confidence wouldn’t have any bearing on reality.  People often think that they need to wait until they are confident before they can make a big change and do what matters.  However, if you’re waiting for that, then you’ll spend your life in the waiting room.

It’s completely normal and natural to have some crises of confidence as we venture into new territory.  This often lets us know that what we’re doing is important and worthwhile.  As best you can, treat yourself as you’d treat one of your best friends if they were in the situation that you are in.


4. Become aware of all the self-limiting beliefs that your mind gives you and learn how to unhook from these thoughts. 

As I mentioned earlier, our minds evolved to avoid danger.  Interestingly, research has demonstrated that our brain registers rejection in the same way as it registers physically pain.  Needless to say, we want to avoid this kind of pain.  However, our mind is like an overprotective parent.  Many of its attempts to help us can actually hinder us in the long run.

Taking time to journal your thoughts without trying to change them is incredibly useful.  You can also take a pragmatic perspective by asking yourself “when I get hooked by this thought do I end up engaging in the actions that bring me closer toward or further away from who and where I want to be?”  The great thing about these approaches is that you don’t have to challenge the thought. Your mind can usually come up with plenty of reasons to give you evidence for why you should think a self-limiting thought.  This pragmatic way of unhooking allows you to acknowledge self-limiting thoughts that you have while no longer allowing your relationship to these thoughts dictate your actions and inactions, as the case may be.


5. Short-term pain, Long-term gain or Short-term gain, Long-term pain. 

Often we have a choice for either short-term pain or long-term pain.  If we really want something, such as a new fulfilling career, this will almost inevitably lead to some short-term pain in terms of needing to face unwanted thoughts and emotions internally and uncertainty in terms of finances and whether your new career will work out externally.  Pretty much anything worth fighting for will involve at least some short-term pain.  It can be incredibly useful to ask yourself which actions will bring you closer toward long-term gain and to remind yourself of this when you are engaging in actions that feel harder in the immediate future, such as pulling back on unnecessary spending.

As you start any new career, you may end up putting more hours in temporarily in order to have more time freedom in the future.  It can be useful to break down larger tasks into smaller manageable chunks and simply commit to breaking outside of your comfort zone for just five minutes each day.  If you would like help staying accountable around this, you are welcome to join our 5 Minute Breakouts Facebook group & 5 Minute Breakouts YouTube channel.


These tips complement the New Year, New Career feature on Friday 6th January in The Irish Examiner by Carolyn Moore.  See www.irishexaminer.com for the full feature.

Aisling Curtin is a Registered Psychologist, co-director of ACT Now Purposeful Living and co-creator of 5 Minute Breakouts.  She is a speaker, trainer and best-selling author.  To find out more about purposeful leadership, life and business see www.actnow.co.

Together with her partner, Dr. Trish Leonard, she will host a public workshop entitled Breakout of your Comfort Zone for 2017 on Wednesday January 11th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Psychological Society of Ireland Headquarters, Dublin 8.

The workshop is on a “pay what you can” basis. See https://actnow.co/breaking-out-of-your-comfort-zone-2017/ or call 01-4433307.  Pre-booking is essential.

The workshop is on a “pay what you can” basis. See www.actnow.co or call 01-4433307.