After navigating many career changes, and coaching others through the same, I’ve noticed a typical, yet sometimes comical pattern to how we tend to respond. First, we overcome our doubts to go for the new career. We get the job or promotion and we can’t wait to share our news, “Hey, guess what?!” can be a common opening line to sharing our new endeavor. We start our new job with big goals and ideas, often times to find ourselves struggling within a few weeks thinking, “Now what?!” Oh, how quickly our “guess what” turns into a “now what,” and that long-desired career change suddenly activates and exposes our fears of inadequacy and failure.

Seemingly out of nowhere, we can all get a bit fearful about starting something new as it can be a big leap out of our comfort zone, and we prefer success over failure. These fears wake up the little virtual villain in your head that gets your doubtful thoughts rolling. While there have been several, a common thought I always wrestled with when I transitioned careers, industries, or earned a promotion was, “I don’t have enough experience to be successful.” I began to compare myself to everyone else, and it seemed they had more credentials and experience than me.   

Left unchecked, I began to believe this thinking and would spend my day worrying that I wouldn’t be able to influence people well, which would impact my performance and cause me to fail. It’s so easy when we stretch out of our comfort zone to begin judging ourselves on all the skills we believe we lack.  However, when we’re busy judging ourselves, we’re too preoccupied to be curious and creative.  So, the first approach to bust through some self-judgment is to get curious about the facts in front of you. A second way is to identify skills you’ve already used successfully and transfer them to your new role.

When we quiet self-criticism, we amplify our natural creativity and confidence.

Kelli Thompson

Get Curious to Get Creative

The first place to overcome self-judgement is to focus on the facts. Ask yourself, “What are some things I know for sure in my new role? Is it really true that my lack of experience is going to keep people from listening to me?”  When I’ve fact-checked that question, my answer was always, “No.” Why? Because I’ve actually worked for some really awesome leaders who were new to their industry and I learned a ton from their own lens of career experience. Thus, I can also influence others using that same logic.

Then, I could get creative by asking myself what I would do at work today if I didn’t believe my doubting thoughts. When we lose the fearful thinking, our creativity opens up and provides us answers such as, “I would go big, I would be helpful, I would ask great questions, and I would volunteer my ideas.” That sounds like a much more productive day than hunkering down in my office, downplaying my ideas and playing small, which is what I tend to do when I’m believing my virtual villain that people won’t listen to me because I don’t have enough experience.

Transfer Your Genius

Many of the skills that can help us be successful at our new career, we’ve used in other places. If we’re too busy being self-critical about how much we don’t know, we forget to transfer the skills we do know. Think back to a time that you were really successful at achieving something. It could be a hobby, like hiking up crazy difficult mountain trails or selling homemade goods. Maybe you’ve been promoted before and successfully managed that transition.  

Reclaiming our confidence begins with having more compassion and less self-judgment. Compassion and curiosity free up our natural ability to be creative.  

Compassion and curiosity spark creativity.

Kelli Thompson

Once you’ve identified three skills, how can you adapt those skills to make you successful in this new endeavor, this new promotion? In what ways can you use these skills today?


  • Kelli Thompson

    Leadership Coach | Writer | Speaker

    Kelli spent years climbing ladders and leading teams in Corporate America before taking the leap into entrepreneurship, starting her own business as a leadership coach, writer, and speaker. She helps women unlock their potential and lead more confidently to achieve their career goals and ideal lifestyle (hustle free). She is the founder of the Rise Confidently Leadership Masterclass series for women leaders. Her two favorite roles are wife and mom.