The Hardest Things About Career Change You Need to Know

Have you been thinking about changing your career? 

I know that career change can be very daunting. Getting a second degree or certification that is necessary in some situations is a lot of work. And making sure you’ve got your finances in order can also be challenging. 

But the hardest things about your career change will likely be related to your mindset. 1. A tendency to (unfairly) compare yourself to other people who are already successful in your target career, 2. The fear of being a ‘Nobody’ which happens as a result of comparing your progress in your new career to the level you are at in your current career (which is of course much more advanced), and 3. The impatience to go through the whole process, knowing that you have to learn many things from scratch.

People who want to change careers usually fall into one of these two groups:

1. In the first group are those people who already exactly know how they want to change their careers, e.g. from being a teacher to becoming a software engineer.

2. In the second group are those people who are really unhappy with their current career and have a strong feeling that they desperately need to make some kind of change to their career but they just don’t know what that would entail.

If you fall into the second group then you have some work cut out for you. 

You have to first find out what you actually want. 

Let’s look at the first group of people who already know what kind of career change they want to make but for some reason still haven’t started the process yet. 

For most people changing careers is something that is really hard, especially if you’ve been working in your current career for more than 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years. 

Even simply changing your job can be difficult. But when you talk about career change then the whole challenge is compounded. 

It’s not only about a change of environment, anew boss, new colleagues, and maybe new job duties, but here you find yourself confronted with a new industry and oftentimes you have to learn a lot of things from scratch. 

You have to learn and adapt very fast and oftentimes you have to dramatically change your mindset.  

Many people mistakenly assume that the hardest part about changing your career is the fact that you have to learn a lot of new things and acquire new knowledge. And perhaps the fact that in some cases you have to go back to school to get a second degree or a certification. On top of that you might have to save up some money in order to afford that education.

But these are not the biggest challenges, because these are all concrete things that you can plan and that you can check off your list. Such as saving money go back to school to get a degree get a certification and so on. 

I left my very successful and well-paying job in banking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry

when I was almost 30, and believe me I spent a good year or more than a year intensely thinking about and planning for that decision.

So I can tell you based on my own experience what actually the hardest thing about changing your

career is. This is also based on my observation of other people, my friends, family members, and acquaintances. They are people who are really unhappy in their current career, but for many reasons still haven’t started the process of changing their careers, although they know that it will take them a long time.


1. The first thing that is hard to overcome is comparing yourself to other people. 

It could be a friend a family member or even someone famous who is already successful in the career that you want to be in. You look at that person and you think to yourself: “Oh man, if I start now there’s so much I have to catch up on to get to the level of that person?”

Let’s say that you’re the head of marketing in your company and you’re very successful, and the reason

for that is because you’ve been working hard for the last 10 years on your career. 

But now what you want to do is start your own business. You look at these other business owners

who’ve already made it and who are already successful. And you think to yourself: “Oh my, how long, if I start now, will I have to work on being a successful business owner until I get to that level?” 

And by thinking that way you’ve already given up before you’ve even started. 


2. The second thing is the fear of being a nobody – comparing your progress in your new career to your level of success in your current career

In the earlier example you would think: “I’m the head of marketing now. I’m doing really well and I’ve worked really hard.” I’ve worked 10 long years to be where I am. 

But if I change careers now, if I try and start something new like becoming a software engineer, I’m a nobody. I’m starting from the bottom. I’m basically like a fresh grad again. 

And that kind of thinking can attack your pride.

Right now you can say that you are somebody. You are for example this head of marketing and you can tell people who you are. You have a clear position in society. 

But it’s a different thing if you’re trying to change your career, start something new, e.g. become a software engineer. People ask you what do you, and it’s kind of difficult to answer that question. 

That is a scenario that many people are afraid to face.

3. The third thing is the realization that you kind of have to repeat the whole process of learning again. 

For example getting a second degree or certification and preparing yourself for two or three years before you can get into that new career. 

For some people, especially those who enjoy the process of learning itself, that might not be a

problem. But for other people who are a bit more on the impatient side that can turn into a burden.

I am kind of a mixture of the two. While I do tremendously enjoy every step of the learning process, I must confess that sometimes some impatience does sneak in. Because the reality is that it can takeyou years to change your career and to settle in. 

Sometimes it can take even longer than that depending on how ambitious or how extreme your career change is.

So now you might ask: Are these really the most difficult things? Aren’t there more difficult things about career change such as preparing yourself financially for a career change? Or convincing your spouse or perhaps even your parents that you’re doing the right thing? 

And I would say that although these two things are also extremely difficult to manage, the things that I mentioned earlier related to your mindset are by far the most challenging.

As soon as you have certainty, you are utterly convinced that a career change must happen if you are in the right mindset, then you will be able to tackle all of the rest.

On the contrary, if you don’t have the right mindset, a career change may never happen. 

Now before you say: Why are you telling me about all these difficult things about career change? Are

you telling me not to go for it?

Here is the solution.

First let’s remind ourselves again that to achieve anything worthwhile we have to always

face a set of challenges. And to conquer those challenges first we have to be able to identify them. 

Of course, everyone has their challenges that they must face. But this challenge related to self-image and changing that self-image is universal.

The three things that I just talked about: comparing yourself to where other people already are,

comparing your progress in your new career to the level you are currently at your current career, and the

impatience knowing that you have to learn many things from scratch those are all mindsets that block and hinder your career change.

So if you’ve been struggling to even start your career change process, the only way that you can finally get this started is to address these mind blocks one by one.

I’d just like to very briefly summarize how to tackle these mind blocks which is first and foremost changing your self-image and number two changing the way you view time. 

If you want to be able to stop comparing yourself to other people and stop setting unrealistic expectations toward yourself, then you need to be open toward changing your self-image.

The reason why I wanted to share with you about these difficult things is not to discourage you at all.

On the contrary, the sooner we become aware of these mind blocks the faster we can start changing our careers.

You might ask me: So do you have it all figured out? And the answer is: No, I don’t. 

But what I can tell you is this: Every time that I get frustrated I ask myself “What is the real problem?”

And as soon as I can honestly tell myself what the actual problem is – and usually it’s something related to my mindset – that is when I can finally find an answer and make progress.

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