When clients come to me wanting to change career paths, one of their biggest concerns is that they'll wake up one day and realize they made a mistake. And by that point, it will be too late to go back to their old path. They know that they need to make a choice, but don't trust themselves to make the right one.
Do you feel this way?
I certainly did when I made the switch from biological engineering to life coaching. I wanted to pursue my dream of being a coach for a living, but was petrified that I wouldn't make any money at it, or that I'd stink at it. I would be homeless, penniless, or perhaps worse: I'd be embarrassed in front of my friends, all of whom had lucrative and secure biotech jobs. No one would hire me back into the biotech world because I'd be "obsolete." It was a terrifying vision.
Here's the problem with this way of thinking: it comes from a scarcity mentality. Within this frame of mind, you really believe that there are dead-ends, dwindling opportunities, and that our world is unforgiving. But I have found just the opposite to be true.
Instead, here are a few interesting discoveries I've found...
When you close one door, a dozen more open.
When you pick a "door" and pursue it whole-heartedly, you usually will find that there are many opportunities that open up down that particular path. You just need to walk down the path a bit in order to discover them.
For example, when I left science to pursue coaching, I started to see options open up that I didn't even know existed. I taught a class at Stanford. I spoke on a radio show. I have become a coach-on-retainer at companies and organizations. I have become a leader of women in science. I had no idea that all of these opportunities were waiting for me around the bend… and they keep on coming!
Trying to keep the wrong doors open wastes your energy.
Ironically, I have found that the best way to limit your opportunities is to wallow in indecision, trying to keep all your current opportunities open. When I tried to pursue a science job while coaching on the side, I quickly realized that juggling both would mean doing a mediocre job at both!
In order to see new opportunities open, you have to commit 100% to your inner truth, to the decision you want to make (but may be too afraid to make). From there, you can throw all of yourself (and your talent) at it.
If you change your mind, people may actually welcome you back.
If you are a good person who does good work (which I am guessing you probably are), then people from your old industry will likely want to work with you again. For instance, after I made my switch, a professor with whom I'd collaborated told me that if I ever wanted to come back to science, I could have a spot in his lab.
Imagine what sorts of re-entry opportunities you could create for yourself if you proactively asked. In my experience, good people are not always easy to find, and so people are often happy to hire back the good ones, even if they did "take a break" to try something new.
You can make any choice great.
Happiness in your career is dependent on two things: making a good choice, and making that choice great. Think of it like a marriage. Sure, it's important to pick the right spouse. But it also takes a lot of care, love, and work to build a great partnership, even if the partners are a good match to begin with.
The same is true of a career. If you do great work, your career will be more enjoyable and fulfilling than if you didn't. So it's not that you need to pick the exact right career to make you happy. There are many careers that you could be happy with, if you put in the care to make them great.
Here is my challenge to you: if you are facing indecision in your career, it's time to make a choice! Don't be so afraid to make the wrong choice that you never get the satisfaction of making the right one!
Making that choice requires trust. Trust that giving up a known opportunity will be worth it because of all of the new unknown opportunities that await you down your chosen path. You can't see them yet, which is why you need trust, or faith.
But if you have that faith, odds are that you are going to be so in love with all of the new opportunities before you that you won't want to go back to the old path not taken.
So what door are you afraid of closing? What career decision are you facing? Write me a note and let's discuss!
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