Fear of changing jobs – how to deal with it

Fear of changing jobs – how to deal with it

05 Dec

Fear of changing jobs is often the main obstacle that stands in the way of getting one. Lack of self-confidence, doubts and fears often block us during a career change. Why do ambitious career goals evoke such feelings in us?

Research on stress shows that the brain views job change as one of the life changes that threaten your survival. The Holmes Rahe Stress Scale has shown that career change is one of the 20 most stressful things in life, right after the death of a close friend.

No wonder the brain perceives career change as a threat. Changing a career requires enormous effort, which means the use of valuable resources: energy, finances, time. The cause of fear is therefore specific reasons – fear of failure, loss of social position and income.

Fear of changing jobs comes in the form of many feelings and emotions. In mild forms, these emotions cause self-doubt and in advanced forms, they lead to complete “paralysis”.


Fear occurs when something important to you is at stake. The emotion of fear has an important purpose: to protect your precious life from dangers. No wonder it comes when you start thinking about a change that will affect almost your entire life.

When you are about to change the outcome of which is unknown, fear tells you what to do to protect yourself: gather external resources (finances, contacts) and internal resources (strengths, skills). Trying to ignore your fears may end up in them coming back and distracting you on your way to your goal.

Fear of a job change and lack of energy

Fear of changing jobs very often leads to a lack of energy to do anything. You may feel so powerless that you are unable to act and move forward.

The freeze reaction, however, is part of our biology. Most of the mammals we study freeze for a few seconds just to assess the situation before making the next move. Freezing is therefore an important function and you should see it as one of the helpful steps in the transition.

During major life changes, in addition to being “frozen”, people also experience a feeling of “fog”. It’s a state of confusion, thoughts, confusion in your head – the feeling that you don’t know what you want and where you’re going. You start to doubt yourself and your goals, and your motivation to change begins to wane.

This feeling of ambiguity makes it much more difficult to make important career decisions. So how do you reduce the fear of changing jobs and gain more clarity?


Fear evokes unpleasant feelings in us, so it’s no wonder that we are looking for ways to avoid or combat it. However, you already know that fear does not come without a reason and has an important function not to disturb you, but to help you on the path of change.

Feeling anxious is a natural part of changing jobs. Understanding this will make it easier for you to accept it during your career change. Fear can become a good teacher or motivator if you start to see it as an ally rather than an enemy.

Try to work out and better understand your fear of changing jobs. Think about what exactly are you afraid of? What is your fear trying to protect – what are you risking by changing your job, profession, career?

Imagine your fear is just alertness. What actions can you take to safely achieve your goal? What’s the worst that could happen? What can you do to minimize the risk of the worst-case scenario?

Take into account that the most common fear is that you are hallucinating, not of real danger. Most of your fears and dark scenarios will never come true. So think about whether what you fear is realistic at all.


The fear of changing jobs may also arise because you do not know what the result of this change will be. So you have a lot of effort, risks, and the end result is uncertain. If you can’t figure out what the benefits of this change are, you won’t move because you will be drowned out by doubt and fear.

Think of your reasons for implementing this change. Review any frustration, unfair treatment, or other reasons that make you want to change your current job.

It will definitely be useful to refer to the inspirational vision of life that you would like to create in the future. If you don’t have a specific vision like that, think about whether this change will help you make a dream come true. Or maybe it will have a positive impact on other spheres of your life or will have an impact on the people most important to you? Whatever it is, it will be something positive that will motivate you and reduce your fear and doubts.


The key to choosing the best career path lies in knowing yourself well. The more you know and understand yourself, the more confident you are about your decisions and the direction you choose. And the less fear you have of changing jobs.

By creating a clear vision of your life and career space, you define exactly what you want and decide if implementing the change in life is worth the effort.


One way to reduce your fear of changing jobs is to break down your ambitious career goal into smaller steps. Treat them as experiments that will arouse your curiosity and dispel fears and doubts.

By taking small steps, you minimize the risk of tripping. With each small step, you will have more information and you will quickly verify that you are going in the right direction.

Small steps will help you build more confidence. Overcoming each new challenge will build faith in your strength and skills.

Fear can’t hit a moving target, says Todd Herman, a productivity coach. So try to work towards your dream job every day.

Remember that not making a decision is also a decision to stay where you are. Considering that you want to change jobs, this is probably not the best place for you, right? You are also not sure that everything will stay the same. Time will pass anyway, and apparently at the end of our lives we regret the most things that we did not do.


Statistics say that on average we change jobs every 4-5 years, so a change is inevitable anyway. Does this mean that the fear of changing jobs will accompany us more often?

Yes and no. Yes, because you can’t completely turn off fear – it’s too important a function. That is why it is worth getting interested in the topic of building mental resilience to better cope with unexpected life changes. The more often you change jobs, the easier it will be for you and the less fear you will feel.

You will get used to the changes thanks to the aforementioned small steps. Instead of revolutions and surprises, you will gradually get used to small changes. If you take small steps as experiments, you will develop a distance to the results of the action.

If something goes wrong you will always be able to say that it was just an experiment that gave you helpful feedback that could still be improved. The error will help you detect what knowledge or skills are still missing. Any feedback from the action will be useful to you when making important career decisions.


Fear of changing jobs often makes you embarrassed to share your feelings with others. You try to find a solution yourself first. Only when the situation is prolonged and you are tired of fighting alone, do you ask for help from others.

It is not worth the wait that long, because you can waste a lot of time and the solution may be at your fingertips. Merely supporting those close to you who have faith in you can work wonders.

Sometimes a cue, a different perspective, or saying your thoughts aloud to another person is enough to realize that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Explain to loved ones what you fear. Ask for support when they notice that you are losing motivation – let them remind you of important reasons why you want a change.

However, if nothing helps and you feel that the fear of changing jobs is paralyzing you and hindering normal functioning, consider seeking the help of a psychotherapist. Psychotherapy, especially in the cognitive-behavioral approach, is an effective method of dealing with various types of anxiety. Working with a psychotherapist can help you better understand yourself and build new empowering beliefs that will come in handy during your change.

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