Are you considering changing career? You have one or several ideas, and some fears linger in your head, coming over and over, and making you reluctant to even explore these options?
I got myself rid of a lot of fears before deciding to transition from consulting to choral conducting.
Here is what I did with many of them.

Step 1: write down your fear:

  • Take a paper (your phone, tablet or computer can also do the job)
  • Write down “I am afraid of ” followed by your fear
  • Analyze it, be very precise, up to the point that it is as precise and exhaustive as possible. What is it precisely that you will be missing? What would be the worst case scenario?
Actually, step 1 alone will probably dissipate many of your fears.
For instance, when considering transitioning to music, I had been thinking: “I will need to downgrade my housing, yet I am afraid of leaving Paris.” That fear ran in the background of my mind, unanalyzed.
So I wrote it down: “I am afraid of leaving Paris.
While writing, I was thinking: why am I afraid of leaving Paris? What does Paris provide me?
So I wrote more precisely: “I am afraid of:
  • Having long commuting time, maybe more than an hour
  • Having cultural and social activities less accessible”
And as I was writing this down, a feeling of relief came to me, and I thought joyfully: “Obviously, those are two inconvenients, but they look like quite small compared to the joy I would feel studying and playing music the whole day long!
That fear, which had been lingering for a whole year, went away in 2 minutes.

Step 2: take any relevant action

If the fear has not disappeared after analysis in step 1, then it often falls into one of two categories:
  • Fear due to lack of information: where can you find it or who can you ask?
  • Fear due to a real obstacle: how can you remove it?
Then, take any relevant action.
Repeat for each fear.

Some frequent career change fears

Now that you know the process, I will dwell into a few common fears linked to career changes and propose some insight.

Fear of losing revenue:

Write down:
  • How much you spend each year for each category of spending. Sort it in “I don’t see myself without” and “I can do without”.
  • How much you expect to earn. If you are looking for a non-salaried position, you will have to calculate your income, in a realistic way (ex: “I will sing X times per week for X €/$).
  • Do you expect to earn at least as much as the “I don’t see myself without?” If not, what other source of revenues can you find? Start a side business? Heritage/savings? Go from salaried to independant, earning more money per day?

Fear of your loved one’s reactions:

  • Do you believe they would fear that you are unsafe from a financial perspective? Then tell them why you are doing it (what are the problems of your current situation and what you expect from your move), and what plan B you have identified.
  • Do you expect them to be ill-at-ease seeing you follow a path that is not common in the family, or strive for your dreams while they are not? Then you may want to ask yourself whether this is a sufficient reason for you to endure the cost (regrets…) of not doing what you deeply want.

Fear of not being able:

  • Ask yourself: how “able” do you want to be in your new field? Do you want to be world-class-or-nothing, or would you be satisfied with doing what you love, whatever your level?
  • Trust that doing what you deeply want will significantly improve your energy and your ability to learn (trust me on this one – I started lacking many choral conducting skills, yet I have been admitted in the best conservatory of the Netherlands!)
  • Think about a plan B in case your project does not work – or not soon enough

Fear of losing your hard-acquired social status:

  • What are its benefits today?
  • What are its costs (in time, energy, emotions…)? Can you sustain them for 10 more years?
  • What would you gain if you changed career?

After the analysis: go/no-go!

Performing this analysis on all your fears will bring you one of those two results:
  • Either your fears do uncover unshakeable obstacles (it is less likely than you would think initially, and I encourage you to authorize yourself to act on creative solutions). Then you can abandon this project without regret and focus your mind and energy on something else – great!
  • Or you now know trust that you can deal with all the obstacles. Great! How and when will you start?