Handling Doubt During a Career Transition, Part 1

Your Career Homecoming clients often ask me if what to do when they're feeling doubtful. They may question that the process will work for them, or that they will be up for whatever challenges they'll need to face in order to segue into a new, meaningful career.

During a major shift, it’s normal to feel doubtful. Doubt can be healthy. It can also turn the corner and become toxic quicksand.

Let's start with doubt.

Maybe you doubt that you’ll be able to earn enough doing something you enjoy, or that you’ll be able to manage transitioning in to a new career while you’re also thinking about starting a family.

And that's just fine.

Doubts or questions or “what ifs” are your brain’s way of looking out for you. They’re little red flags meant to help problem solve and steer you in the right direction.

So when doubts come up, acknowledge them by writing them down so your brain doesn't have to carry them. All my clients keep a running list of "questions that need answers" so they have a helpful place to store their doubts. This way, an uncomfortable doubt can become a helpful question. "Will I be able to make enough money as an artist?" becomes "How much money do I need to make as an artist?"

Doubts leave you hanging; questions lead you somewhere. A simple but powerful shift.

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Try something for me: take a big breath, and then hold your breath for as long as you can. Go.

Did you pass out? Didn’t think so. That’s because your body has an autonomic mechanism that won’t let your ruin yourself. Your body takes over and breathes you (thank you graduate school voice classes, for teaching me this) before something harmful happens.

You have a similar mechanism for your life.

Your body and your mind will take over and “breathe you” to protect you.

Trust that. Trust yourself. You only have to take as much risk as you want. And all the big “how will this work out” questions tend to answer themselves as you move forward.

So, doubt is ok, and you will be safe.

In Part 2, we'll look at what happens when doubt goes sour and becomes dangerous quicksand.

Your turn. In the comments, let me know...

How do you handle doubt during transitions?