Why we stay in careers that no longer serve us

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  Would you chuck in that corporate job and set up that little pottery workshop you’ve always dreamed of?  Trek the Himalayas instead of the soulless halls of your office?  Swap your nurses whites for a frilly apron and bake cupcakes every day?

Did you know that 68% of us say that the prospect of failure is the one hurdle that stops us from achieving our goals?

I know the feeling only too well.  For twenty years, I worked in career that I didn’t really love.   Yep, you read that right.  TWENTY YEARS!

But I was gripped by fear.  Fear of leaving behind the sanctity of a safe job and secure paycheck. Fear of giving up on a career that I knew I was good at. A career that so many people told me I was lucky to have. 

You know that line in the Devil Wears Prada?  “A million girls would kill for that job”’….  well, that was me.  I had a job that a million other girls would kill for. 

But, I was just going through the motions, day in and day out.  I knew that I wanted more, but was crippled by fear. I was scared of walking away from a successful career. What if I failed?  What if I was no good?  What would people think of me?

BUT, what if I walked away and found joy and purpose unlike anything I could have imagined?

So many of us remain stuck in careers that no longer give us joy.  Do any of the following reasons resonate with you?

You don’t know yourself

Quite simply, so many of us just don’t know ourselves.  It’s that age-old question ‘Who am I?’ that so many people struggle with.  It’s easy to say ‘I’m a lawyer’, or ‘I’m an account director at an ad agency’, but who we are, and what truly lights us up, goes way deeper.

When asked, “When you’re 85 and looking back on your life, what do you want to have done with it?” “What’s the most important thing to you in your career?” “What lights you up and makes you feel alive?”, most people draw a blank.  People don’t know themselves on a deeper level, beyond what they do for a living, or what Netflix show they’re currently watching.

The fact is however that if you don’t know who you are and what makes you feel truly alive – at your core – how can you lead a life, or choose a career, that completely aligns with who you are and where you want to be in life.

You think that you can’t build a career – or make money – doing something you love

There seems to be a myth today that work is supposed to be hard and unfulfilling.  And that you couldn’t possibly make money doing something you love.  Dreams are just that, aren’t they?  Dreams.

We give ourselves thousands of reasons why loving what we do professionally just isn’t in the cards for us, and why we couldn’t possibly follow our dreams.

But guess what?  All over the world, people are following their dreams and making a TON of money from it.

I mean, who would have imagined ten years ago that someone who loved traveling could suddenly command thousands of dollars for simply posting a picture of their adventures?

At the moment, it might seem so unattainable, but people everywhere are working in jobs that they LOVE.  And you can too…

You’ve lost the courage to act

For those that do know what they want, they often struggle to take action.  They lack the courage, afraid of being judged, afraid of failing. 

We’ve been seduced by some misguided concept that life should always be easy, and we should be happy 100% of the time.  But, making change and following your dreams or passions won’t be easy.   It will take hard work and a giant amount of courage. There will be struggles, but those struggles will make it all the more worthwhile.

Often, when people feel stuck, they get frustrated and can’t see a way out.  Fear can take over, and a little voice in our head can say ‘It’s just not worth it.’

But I think it is. And deep down, I think you do too.  Isn’t a life that’s full of joy, excitement and purpose worth it?

Tell me, what do you think is the biggest thing that holds you back from living a life of joy and purpose?

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