Work and Business

How To Overcome Fear And Challenge To Achieve Your Career Dreams

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What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?


I’ll bet you had lots of career dreams as a child.

Maybe you wanted to be an actor?  Or an astronaut?  Perhaps you had dreams of becoming a vet?  Or an athlete.

I had several career dreams as a child.

At first, I wanted to be a doctor (and then realised I wasn’t keen on blood!)

Then because I loved books and reading I thought becoming a librarian might be fun.

As a teenager, I thought this was maybe a bit ‘square’ so I switched my ambitions to working behind the scenes for the BBC.

Then I thought this would probably involve moving from the North to London, so my career dreams kind of petered out at that point…


how to overcome fear and challenge to achieve your career dreams


What Happened To Our Career Dreams? 


You will see from my little story there – I had a number of different career dreams which seemed exciting at the time.  However, I very quickly talked myself out of them!

As we get older, this tendency to talk ourselves out of things gets worse.

We are more willing to take risks and experiment as children.  Once we grow up into adults with more responsibilities, our perception of what is possible changes.


young girl with long blonde hair

Photo by Ratiu Bia on Unsplash


The part of the brain that talks us out of things gets louder.  It’s only doing its job, it wants to keep us safe, but it can hugely limit our options.

Here’s some more of my own story to illustrate the point.


My Story


After I’d talked myself out of my dreams of being a doctor, librarian or TV producer, I was never sure what I really wanted to do.

I went down the typical academic route of ‘A’ Levels and University. At the end of all that I still didn’t know what I could do which would truly align with who I was and also make me money.

I had a vague idea that I wanted to work with people so I drifted into Human Resources.

I then spent many years building my career and working my way up the ladder, thinking this was the only option in life.

On the outside, I looked like I had it all.  My own team, my own office, money to spend on all the holidays and clothes I wanted!

But something really didn’t feel right.



woman with head on desk

Image by Pixistock


I felt stressed, overwhelmed and unfulfilled. I’d struggle with difficult situations and people and often lacked confidence in what I was doing.

I began to feel very trapped in a career I had pursued for many years.  There was also the status and financial reward attached to my work which I told myself I couldn’t give up.

If there were alternative routes I could go down, I couldn’t see them and I was too stressed and tired to go looking.

After a period of time off sick from work with burnout a couple of years ago, I started to reassess things.

I made changes to my lifestyle and embarked on learning about what truly mattered to me.  (Little Blog of Positivity was also born during this period of reflection!)

Earlier this year I left that career in Human Resources to take up a new challenge in Leadership Development. I simultaneously qualified as a life coach and began helping others with a range of goals and dreams.

I’ve also established tools to manage my emotions, thoughts and self-care and consistently gain much more positive outcomes.

Related Post:  How To Get Unstuck And Jump Start Your Success


Fears and Challenges I Faced


I learned the hard way how lack of confidence and self-belief can hold you back and keep you stuck.

I also struggled with the ‘golden ball and chain’ firmly clamped to my ankle.  How could I possibly spend so many years climbing up the ladder in one particular career, only to backtrack on my efforts?

I had actually identified quite a few years ago that I would be happier in the area of leadership and personal development.  I even went for interviews for a couple of jobs.  The feedback was the same each time – although I interviewed well there was always a candidate already doing the job, so they pipped me to the post.

Part of the problem was I was applying for jobs in this new (albeit related) field of work at the same senior level I was working at in my HR job.  It never occurred to me to perhaps go in lower (or if it did, I quickly talked myself out of it).


woman dressed smartly running down steps

How To Overcome These Fears and Challenges


Here are 8 top tips which I used personally to overcome the fears and challenges I faced in making a change to my career.


1. Test The Waters

No-one says that to change careers you have to go in all guns blazing.  I definitely wouldn’t advocate jacking in your current job to pursue your career dreams.  There is a more subtle way to set about changing your career.

Testing the waters is something I did (although maybe don’t do it for 20 odd years like me :-D)

I found opportunities in the role I was in to design and deliver training sessions.  I networked with people in the training and development department who were already doing the jobs I would most like to do.  Because my organisation knew I had an interest in this area, I also gained opportunities to obtain some relevant qualifications along the way.

You could also do some voluntary work in the field you are interested in.  Or find out if you could shadow someone for a few days.

As well as wanting to change my ‘corporate’ career, I’ve also tested the waters of becoming an internet entrepreneur by running this blog as a side hustle for the last couple of years.

I now have a good grounding to launch my new career coaching business Get Set_Believe alongside my blog and my new leadership development role.  (I’m sure I’ll get to have some sleep at some point too :-D)

Want to find out how more about how to align your strengths, values, purpose and passions with your work and look forward to Monday mornings?  Book your 30 minute discovery call right now!



2. Work Out Your Finances

One of the things which held me back for a long time was believing that I couldn’t afford to take, what I saw as, a ‘backward’ step.

(Bonus tip:-  I later reframed this as a ‘strategic career move’).

When I really sat down and examined this, I realised it simply wasn’t true.  What was actually holding me back was my belief that I would be going backwards and my fears around loss of status.

In coming to the conclusion that I COULD afford the drop in salary, I did the following practical things:

  • Reviewed my outgoings and looked for anything I could reduce or drop altogether
  • Made a concerted effort to save as much as possible and also to pay off any outstanding debts (for the first time in years I now have no credit card debt at all!)
  • Cut down my spending on unnecessary items
  • Considered how I could make a bit of extra cash from my ‘side hustles’ and concluded that I would have more time to work on promoting these with a less stressful job
  • Talked everything through with my husband and made sure he was in agreement with my plans

Everyone’s financial situation is obviously different, but if you are thinking of making a career change but believe you can’t afford it, I would encourage you to think again.

Use the tips above to help you.  You could also consider looking into career development loans or similar.


dollars being put into unicorn moneybox

Image by Pixistock


3.  Work Out What You Are REALLY Afraid Of

As became apparent for me when I began to examine what was holding me back, what I initially thought was my fear, actually wasn’t.

I originally thought that my fear was that I couldn’t afford to move to a career that would earn me less money.

The way I examined this fear was to ask myself what was important about the money and also how true it was that I couldn’t afford to take a pay cut.

What I found was that I COULD live on less, so why did I still feel fearful of making a change?

I sat with my journal and wrote down what came to mind when I thought about making a career change.  It became apparent as I journalled that the real reasons went more like this:

  • I’ve worked really hard to get to this position, why would I give it up?
  • What will other people think?  Will they think I’m a failure?
  • Am I a failure because I can’t ‘hack it’ in this pressurised role I’ve found myself in?
  • It feels like I would be taking a backward step by taking a role at a lower grade

I also talked things through with a trusted colleague at work and my husband.

It wasn’t about money at all in the end, it was about my pride and concerning myself too much with what others might think!

Another thing that helped me was recognising and challenging my negative thought patterns.  Check out my Thinking Traps Workbook which will help you to do the same.


4.  Crystalise Your ‘Why’

Understanding your ‘why’ can be the difference between making that career change or staying on the fence.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help crystalise your why.  Once you have it, write it out and stick it somewhere prominent!

  • What will making this change give me?
  • If I don’t do anything what will life be like?
  • Will this bring me joy?
  • How do my career dreams fit with my values?
  • What strengths do I have that I could use here?
  • Who will making this change affect?
  • What will be the positive impacts?
  • How does this fit with other priorities in my life?


5.  Knowledge Is Power.

Learn as much as you can.  Read, do short courses, speak to people in the field you want to be in.

Remember too that others don’t know everything.  How do you know they aren’t ‘faking it till they make it’?  Something that you can do too!


woman writing on pad looking at computer screen

Image by Pixistock


6.  Consider Your Transferable Skills

In my own case, I’ve only really realised how many transferable skills I have now I’ve shifted careers!  Thankfully I managed to identify enough of them when I applied for the job 😉

We don’t always recognise our own strengths, so try asking your current boss, colleagues, friends etc. what they see as your key strengths.  Make your own list too then pick out the strengths and skills you already have which could relate to a new field of work.


7.  Save Up To Pay For Qualifications

I did this whilst I was still in my higher-paying role to pay for my coaching qualification.  Set up a standing order.  Once you’ve saved a couple of months money, you don’t really notice it coming out of your bank!


8.  Make The Most Of Your Current Position

Try not to spend all your time hating your current job and plotting to get out of it!  Even though I found my previous job stressful, I made the effort to engage with it and to squeeze as much learning out of it as possible.

Try new things.  Ask for involvement in different tasks.  Find positive people to mix with.  Network.

Take action towards improvement rather than perfection and remember to manage your stress levels and look after yourself.

Related post:  The Ultimate 30 Day Self-Care Challenge


Are You Ready To Make Your Career Dreams Come True?

It has taken me 30 years to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life!

Now I look back, I realise how useful it would have been to have had someone professional and impartial to help support and guide me.

I would love to help you short-cut years of soul searching. 

Find out how to align your strengths, values, purpose and passions with your work and look forward to Monday mornings by booking your free discovery call..


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  1. Latisha

    Your blog is amazing! You touched on so many important topics. Fears of the unknown often times hold you captive. You feel trapped in your own mind and no longer feel free to discover new things. Thanks for being an open book and always willing to help others.

  2. Lori

    I, too, went through many career changes over many years. From conference management to human resources to program director to education administration, I dipped into so many areas and learned and grew as a person and professional from each one. Your advice here is excellent, and I have confidence that you will very successful in leadership development and career consultations! Much success to you!

    1. Alison

      Didn’t realise you’d been in HR too! You are right that there is learning in all the roles we take 🙂

  3. Tiphany

    I love your story! I can relate to a lot of what you shared. Great practical suggestions! I also found taking a personality/career test very helpful in the process.

    1. Alison

      Thanks Tiphany, so glad you enjoyed the post. Yes taking a personality test is also useful, I’d forgotten I’d taken several!

  4. Joep

    Fear is what’s holding a lot of people back from achieving the things they want to achieve. Very relevant post with useful tips!

  5. Chloe Chats

    This is a great post Alison, I definitely can relate to this with how I’m feeling at the moment. I grew up wanting to be a vet, but when I got to the age of university I had no idea what I wanted to do. Kind of just fell into the career I have now because of not really knowing. Feel quite inspired now reading your tips so thank you! x

    1. Alison

      Thanks Chloe, glad you are feeling inspired! Look out for more career related stuff in the new year 🙂

  6. Megan

    I so relate to this. I dwindled my dreams away until I was about to become a speech pathologist (a perfectly fine career, just not the right one for me) and thankfully I switched to my passion at the last second and got into writing.

  7. Tiphany

    Great tips! I especially love that you didn’t recommend others to just quit their job if they hate it before having something that pays lined up! I’ve been seeing a lot of people doing this. There is always something to be learned in a situation we hate. Working towards a new perspective is one!

    1. Alison

      Thanks Tiphany, I definitely would’ve been too cautious to do that! Personally, I did indeed learn loads from my previous job even though it was very hard at times. I used this knowledge to good effect in the interview for my new job!

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