Are you happy?

I have been comfortable for too long!

I wish I did this earlier…

Dealing with Fears of Leaving your Secure Job and Taking a Risk

Switching careers is a big decision for anyone. But even though we may know it is the right thing to do, there are often things holding us back from taking the leap.

One of the greatest barriers that people have to achieving their dreams is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failing. Fear of leaving a comfortable, yet unsatisfying, life behind and striking out into the unknown. It is a primal emotion, designed to keep us safe.

There are ways of overcoming fear though. And fear can sometimes be useful. It will help point out areas where you might struggle – be it financial during the transition or in terms of your qualifications while you search for open roles. These practical fears lead to one way of mitigating them.


Most people settle into a career soon after leaving formal education. They build a solid, safe life, even though they may eventually hate their job. But that is the wrong way to approach life. When we define ourselves so much by our job and spend so much time at it, we deserve to be happy there. Deciding to make a switch comes and then the fears start.

Plan what you have to do to make the switch. Have a checklist and goals, like having so much savings ready to spend on learning or fund you as you transition careers. You can use these savings as a safety blanket. Worried that you won’t get interviews? Well, you have your well-crafted CV and cover letters, worked on with people who know the industry you want to work in. Worried about bills piling up? Your budget and savings will cover those for you. This gives your mind space to focus on landing that new job and being fulfilled at work. Preparation is the key.

Have a support structure

Other fears are less practical. They are mind worms that prey on you as you try to get to sleep. They conjure up images of utter failure. They say to you that what you’re doing is a mistake, you should have never left your old life, and on and on.

We all have them, no matter what we do. It could be something as minor as buying a new television (‘You got ripped off, you bought the wrong model, you’re so stupid, etc.’). We deal with them by airing those fears with those who love and support us. No matter how stupid they seem, we can find comfort and reassurance by talking about our issues with our support structure. Trust others.

Don’t ignore the fear

It is good to be aware of your fears. By ignoring them, you only bottle up issues for later down the road. Engage with your fears and mitigate them. By talking to people, with thorough preparation and by committing to having an open, clear, and honest relationship with your fears, you can overcome them and move your life forward to a better, more satisfying place. 


  • Mark Danaher

    Career, Life and Leadership Coach, Virtual Speaker and Trainer

    Careers by Design LLC

    Mark Danaher is a career/life/leadership coach and certified career counselor who helps leaders elevate their careers and life to one they will love.  He helps his clients make the best of tough situations so they can be their best professionally and personally.   Mark uses coaching along with his extensive career development knowledge and expertise to offer his clients a uniquely holistic approach to making career and life pivots.  He helps his clients manage burnout, stress, and anxiety, integrate balance into their lives so they can make a meaningful change in their lives. He uses a holistic narrative career approach to help people tell their stories and learn from their careers and life.  Mark completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut in Economics and History and went on to earn his Masters at the University of Connecticut in Counseling Psychology.   Mark was the President of the National Career Development Association in 2014-2015 and continues to volunteer for the organization.   He is certified as a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Counselor, Holistic Narrative Career Professional, Retirement Options Coach, 2 Young to Retire Coach, Job, and Career Development Coach, Job and Career Transition Coach, and a Certified Career Service Provider.  Mark is a Master Trainer for the Facilitating Career Development Certificate and School Career Development Advisor certificate is actively coaching training, and teaching throughout the year.  He is now a Master Practioner of the Energy Leadership Index which is a great assessment to understand how you use your energy in your everyday life and under stress.  It gives you a great insight into how you can improve your everyday interactions and connections with colleagues, employees, family, and beyond.