The Secret to Overcoming Job Change Fears

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Change is the only constant in life” says Greek philosopher Heraclitus.  Yet, fueled by fear, we fiercely resist it in all its forms.  Whether it’s a change in organizational structure, change in company vision, or a change involving an entire career, it means losing control—and we really don’t like that. Overcoming job change fears can be daunting.

So, what is the secret to conquer our reactions to changes that inevitably occur?  And how can we use fear as a catalyst to move forward with a career or job change?

When Management Changes Everything

Over time, a company’s needs change.  This causes staffing needs to change.  Mergers make some jobs obsolete.  Individual’s home lives change and so do priorities. Throughout the course of a career, someone may be offered a promotion, a demotion, or something in between.

As changes occur, we may feel like an insider and adopt the challenge with little problem. Or may feel like decisions were done to us. And then we feel vulnerable.

The secret to conquering fear during change is to gather INFORMATION.  When faced with change, “We should find as much relevant information as possible.  We have to acknowledge some decisions may have been made for us, but YOU decide how you react to it” (Ahmed, Chron).  Gathering information may make an initial reaction such as fear over job security seem completely off-base once you know the how and why.  Information is power.  Your own reaction (and how you influence others) is completely up to you.  Once you understand the reasons for the change, you may even spearhead a positive reaction.

Fear Can Be a Good Thing

Fear shows up when you are growing.  And people who have done unique and wonderful things were probably terrified and probably still are, says Susan Biali Haas MD. 

If information leads someone to consider a job change, fear can be very motivating.  Joblist reports in its Midlife Career Crisis survey that people change careers for better pay (47%), because work is too stressful (39%), for a better work-life balance (37%), because they want a new challenge (25%), or because they are no longer passionate about their field (23%).

If it’s time for a change, embrace your fears: “By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you’re not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said, or it will be irrelevant. The reason you’re afraid is that there’s leverage here, something that might happen. Which is exactly the signal you’re looking for” (Seth Godin).

Companies Should Use Information to Communicate Change

When change is occurring, the best way to mitigate negative feelings is through straightforward communication.  “Almost one third of employees who experience organizational change don’t actually know why the change is happening,” says Harvard Business Review.

If possible, companies should reassure employees that their job is secure and communicate a consistent narrative.  If there are benefits for the employee because of the change, these should be highlighted.  While most employees will resist change, capitalize on those who may see change as a positive for the organization and their own career: “Businesses should tap into this excitement and help spread the message. They can ask employees who are eager to see the organizational change to act as change ambassadors or internal champions and help reassure those who have negative feelings,” says Ahmed of Chron.

Whether it is change within an organization or change affecting an entire career, change can be beneficial.  Most people (77%) were happier after they made a career change according to the Joblist survey.

Facing Our Fear of Failure

To conquer fears, we must first acknowledge that they exist.  Start with personal reflection and talk to other people about the feelings behind any big decision.  A simple pro/con list can be helpful.  Pay close attention to the cons to see if they are factual or emotionally driven.  Bringing feelings of shame to the surface can help you recognize when you are unconsciously sabotaging yourself.

At Artemis Consultants, we know that change can be exciting.  Candidates should always work to gather the information needed to make the right change.  A new role should ignite enough passion and creativity to overcome any fears.

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