Over the past several years, I’ve helped numerous clients successfully leave unsatisfying jobs and create work they love. There are three beliefs about career change that often hold my new clients back before they come to work with me. Once they realize that these beliefs are myths and shift to a new way of thinking, they quickly start to move forward and have a much easier time discovering work they love.

Here are the three myths that hold most people back along with paradigm shifts to replace them. As you read, think about how the myths might be affecting you and how the paradigm shifts might help.

Myth #1: Clarity precedes action.

Paradigm Shift: Action precedes clarity.

One of the biggest things holding my clients back before they work with me is the belief that they first need to get clear about their desired destination before they start taking steps to get there. But clarity doesn’t work this way.

The belief that clarity comes before action is reinforced by many career coaches and counselors who spend a lot of time helping their clients identify their “true purpose” or “true passion” or “authentic self” or “their big why.” While this approach might be enlightening for some people, it keeps many more stuck. The truth is that there are many things you might get excited about or purposes you could fulfill or ways you could be true to yourself. We each contain multitudes.

Clarity is an iterative and emergent process. With each step you take, you access new information that can help you discern your next step forward. It’s hard to get clear sitting at your desk. It’s much easier once you gather the courage to start trying things out. Rather than waiting for clarity to dawn upon you, you will get more and more clear with each baby step you take.

Myth #2: To successfully transition to a new career, you should find and follow a step-by-step path.

Paradigm Shift: To successfully transition to a new career, you must understand certain principles and build certain strengths.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find one proven, tried-and-true path to get you to where you want to be? Creating a career would be so much simpler if it were a cut-and-dry task like washing the dishes or folding the clothes. But it’s not. If someone tells you they have a step-by-step approach to career change, get skeptical.

Creating a career is a complex process. The factors at play for you will be different than there are for anyone else, and no one can predict the challenges and opportunities that may arise on your path. If you try to apply a step-by-step approach, it might help. Or, it might keep you stuck trying to implement one strategy when what you really need is something entirely different.

That said, I have good news for you. The journey isn’t completely unpredictable. Most people get stuck during a career transition not because they lack a step-by-step map but because they don’t understand the essential principles and they lack the strengths they need to make a successful change. You can learn these principles and develop these strengths and thereby maximize your potential of creating or finding work you love. In the Core Brilliance Approach that I teach, the five principles of a successful career transition are:

  1. Orientation
  2. Transformation
  3. Imagination
  4. Experimentation
  5. Conversation

Myth #3: It’s all about the inner work. Or, it’s all about the outer strategy.

Paradigm Shift: To successfully transition to work you love, you must have an inner foundation. And, you must do the outer work.

Most career counselors, consultants, and therapists focus primarily on either inner transformation or outer strategy, and most individuals have a preference for one or the other. Either, you really enjoy spiritual and emotional healing work, but you have a hard time getting organized and focused. Or, you get a lot done, but you find it scary to get vulnerable and bear your soul. Maybe you’re somewhere in between.

The thing is, if you only focus on the inner or the outer work, you’re likely to stay stuck. A successful career transition is a both-and process— both the inner and outer work are necessary for change.

To transition to work where you feel truly happy and nourished, you must have an inner foundation. You must be able to trust your intuition, understand what you need and want, move past fear, and build the emotional capacity to change your life. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time gaining traction or trusting the decisions you make.

And, you must do the outer work. You’ve got to put yourself out there and keep showing up until you find or create work you love.

Reflection Pause:

I invite you to reflect for a moment on the following questions and think about how the myths I just discussed may be impacting you:

  1. Have you been wanting to get clear about where you’re headed before you start taking action? What might you do differently now that you know that action actually leads to clarity, rather than the other way around?
  2. Have you been wanting to find a proven, step-by-step approach to change your career? What strengths do you think you might you need in order to change careers successfully?
  3. Do you need to develop a stronger inner foundation to change your life? Or, do you need to start taking more tangible steps? Or both?

I’m curious to hear from you—

Have you been in one of the myths of career change? If so, which one? How has your thinking begun to shift after reading this article?

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts in the comments below! I will make sure to respond.

And, if you have a friend or two who are having a hard time in their work and might want to change jobs, would you please send this article to them? I’d be very grateful. Thank you.


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