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  • Writer's pictureJess Talbott

How to Guide: Managing Anxiety about Making the Wrong Career Decisions

Updated: 7 hours ago

In life, the pressure to make the ‘right’ choices can be overwhelming. At some point in our lives, we all deal with the fear of the unknown, the fear of making a wrong decision that will impact our future. 


This fear becomes especially relevant when considering our career choices. After all, most of us will spend around one third of our lives at work. 


Whether it’s your first job or you are contemplating a career change, it's natural to experience moments of doubt and uncertainty. 


Although these feelings are very common and can be managed with a few helpful techniques, the fear of making the wrong decision can often lead to us not wanting to make a decision at all, paralysed by the thought of potential consequences and unsure of which path to take. But this can leave us at a standstill, hindering our ability to progress and grow.



According to the same survey, the idea of starting an entirely new career crosses the minds of British individuals an average of 10 times a year. 


One in five individuals are currently thinking about retraining, despite many believing that it is too late to change career paths after age 47. Societal expectations, family pressure, and comparing ourselves to others can make us feel worse too. So, what can you do to ease your decision-making anxiety?


  • Spend some time looking inwards: Explore your values, interests, and strengths. Once you've identified what truly matters to you, you can then align your choices with these in mind, wherever possible.

   

  • This one is so important: Understand that no career path is perfect or looks the same, and it's okay to make mistakes along the way. Embrace the learning opportunities that come with challenges and setbacks.



  • This one may seem obvious but one we often forget when stressed: Speak it through with people you trust. Reach out to friends, family or a career counsellor for guidance and support. 


Discussing your ideas, next steps or concerns with others can often offer valuable perspectives and insights. Their presence can serve as a supportive sounding board. Removing that tendency to keep it all bottled up, simply verbalising your thoughts and feelings can often alleviate anxiety and provide us with a sense of relief.

   

  • Focus on what you can control: Instead of fixating on the uncertainties of the future, focus on the present moment and the actionable steps you can take to move forward.

Try to remember that despite societal expectations, career paths are rarely linear and may involve twists, turns, and the unexpected. Stay open to new experiences and be willing to adapt to change.


  • A practical one - define your fears instead of your goals: Tech investor, best-selling author and podcaster, Tim Ferriss sets out a really helpful exercise which helps you to turn fears on their head. By identifying and articulating your fears, you gain clarity on what is holding you back and can devise strategies to overcome them. 

   

Fearing making the wrong decision is a common experience that all of us will face at various stages of our personal and professional lives. So try these techniques out, try to remember that your career journey is unique to you, and it's okay to take detours and explore different paths along the way, no matter your age or the particular path you are on at this moment. 




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