Most of us make dozens of daily assumptions. They are the ‘backward swimming fish’ that shape how we see our world and how we feel and act in it. Assumptions are rich mix of our past experiences and our exposure to advice and commentary from others. Some are tiny and inconsequential, like a dedicated carnivore assuming that gluten–free vegan burgers have a ‘yum’ count of zero. While this might simply limit someone’s gastronomic adventures, lots of other untested assumptions can really hold us back.

Assumptions are primarily driven by our feelings and chief amongst these is fear. Whenever we’re facing change and uncertainty they pop up out of nowhere, undercutting our sense of ourselves as capable, confident people who can do things differently and well.

Career change is rich territory for making undermining assumptions. Also known as ‘limiting beliefs’ they demonstrate our spectacular capacity to over or underestimate others, ourselves and the way the world works.

Check your limits

Recognise your ‘limiting beliefs’ in this list of key career change assumptions?

1. Overestimating the glamour in your ideal job – being a pilot looks totally cool if you discount the jet lag, the paperwork and the responsibility for the lives of hundreds of airborne others

2. Underestimating almost everything else about a career path you’re curious to pursue, including:

  • Your capacity to do the job, the value of your transferable skills and experience – research has found this is particularly true for women.
  • The reality of recruitment being an opportunity to negotiate and advocate for yourself as a talented adaptable person – as opposed to engaging in a rigid, tick box exercise in having the approved qualifications.
  • The likelihood of finding a role in what looks like a closed and competitive industry that’s probably not actually like that.
  • The possibility to enter a new field at a level comparable to your current one – also known as your ability to bust the ’bottom of the ladder ‘ myth

3. Under or overestimating how much you’ll earn in a different industry or role

4 .Overestimating the talent, charm, good looks and interview prowess of everyone else in line for your coveted position – as opposed to your own ‘meagre’ abilities

5. Underestimating your capacity to muster the guts and determination change career and start something new.

Challenge your assumptions


Assumptions have deep roots in the behaviours and values we learn in our families and our cultures. Shifting them is a two part process over time.

Change your mind (set)

Start by strengthening your skills in managing ‘the change in career change’ and by getting to grips with your inner demons. It’s natural to be scared and rattled as a career changer – as well as relieved and excited and curious.

Learn to recognise and acknowledge thoughts of failure, financial ruin and public humiliation for what they are, terrifying but totally untested assumptions. This is a crucial step towards building a healthier perspective on an adventure you’ve embarked on for good reasons. It will also prepare you for hopping off Google and talking to real people.

Do the ‘talk test’

Get out into the real world and test your beliefs about your fitness for new roles, the likelihood of winning them and whether or not they’d pay a living wage.

If your assumptions cause you to question yourself, your strengths and suitability for a role you’d love, ask some trusted, honest others how they see you. Show your CV to someone in your target industry who can help you to understand where your talents fit and point you at useful training.

If your assumptions are around how a role or a sector might meet your career ‘must haves’ talk to people who are already there. Gather as much information and insight as you can. This is the best way to counter your untested fears about how well or badly you might fare in a new industry or a role.

It takes courage to step outside the comfort zone (however uncomfortable it actually is) your assumptions have helped create. So try to be kind and patient with yourself and open and direct with others who can help you see your career change prospects with fresher, clearer eyes.

Because as sci-fi and science writer Isaac Asimov noted, “your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

Ready to test your career change assumptions? – book a chat.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.

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