Top Tips for Successfully Talking to Others about Your Career Change

Discussing Career Change with Loved Ones, Career Coaching, Your24hCoach, Coaching Directory

If you’re debating whether to embark on a change of direction (in life, not in the car!) then it’s natural to ask your family and friends for their opinion. Whether it’s changing jobs or going out to work after a career break, they are the people that you talk to about most things, so why not this as well? What’s more, they know you well and may have some good ideas about what will suit you.

However, there are some dangers lurking in these discussions that you may not have spotted – dangers that could extinguish your spark for change before it has even begun to take hold. Believe it or not, these dangers are the fears and desires of your loved ones, which will influence the way they respond to you.

Discussing Career Change with Loved Ones, Career Coaching, Your24hCoach, Coaching Directory

Key 4 Pitfalls to Beware of When Asking Friends and Family for Advice About a Career Change

1. They Have Their Own Agenda

If your family see your current role as being the one at home keeping everything running smoothly, then their comfort and peace of mind could be quite threatened by you wanting to go out and find some work. Their comfortable life won’t be so comfortable when they have to take more responsibility for their own timetables, and pull their weight in terms of helping in the house and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Friends who are in the same situation as you may feel threatened by your desire to go out to work. They’re likely to suspect that they should do the same, which may not appeal to them as much as it does to you! And friends who are out at work, but unhappy in their jobs, will feel threatened by you taking action. It shines a spotlight on their refusal to take the same bold action. The important thing is to reassure them that you are not judging them, but focusing on what’s right for you.

2. They Don’t Like the Risk

It’s quite reasonable for your family to be worried if you want to leave a current job that is providing stability to the household, in terms of familiarity and routine, as well as financially. They may be afraid that in changing your job and doing something different you’ll jeopardise your financial security and by extension theirs too.

Your friends may also think you’re mad to be pondering a change. I’ve lost count of the number of former colleagues who expressed concern about my determination to break away from corporate life to go it alone – and whilst they may have been worrying about my financial safety (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt!) I strongly suspect they didn’t like having a mirror held up to their own daily compromise.

Discussing Career Change with Loved Ones, Career Coaching, Your24hCoach, Coaching Directory

3. They Fear Being Left Behind

Both family and friends may be concerned that if you go off and do something different, your relationship with them will change. Their thoughts may go something like this:
-You’ll change and leave them behind
-You’ll work longer hours and they’ll see less of you
-You’ll have to travel and be away more
-You’ll build a whole new network of friends that they aren’t part of

4. They Can’t Think Outside the Box

It’s easy for friends and family to assume that you only need to make a small change; that the familiar territory that you’re in now is right for you. They imagine that they know you inside out and actually know what’s right for you better than you know it yourself. So they won’t explore all the possibilities that could conceivably be open to you.

For example, if you’ve always been the practical one - perhaps an administrator, project manager, analyst – it will be hard for others to see the fashion designer, artist or gardener that is hiding inside you. When I made the leap from pension consultant in a global business to self-employed coach, some people were puzzled by my desire to move away from high finance, but my more creative side had been stifled for many years and is loving the freedom of being my own boss!

Those close to you may rule out a whole load of things that would fire you up and excite you, just because they have never seen you in that area before.

Discussing Career Change with Loved Ones, Career Coaching, Your24hCoach, Coaching Directory

So how do you talk about your desire for change without getting caught up in someone else’s fears?

You definitely shouldn’t avoid talking to your family or friends about your future desires and plans. Instead, when you do talk to them, ensure to pick their brains and get them to help you clarify your own thinking on why you want a change and what it needs to involve. But be specific about the kind of support you want from them. Is it practical or emotional?

If you’re looking for practical support:

Tell them the options that you’re considering and ask them to help you explore the advantages and disadvantages of them, so you can gain a balanced view. Or if you’re trying to clarify your strengths, ask them to list at least 5 qualities they see in you – and make sure that you ask several different people to get a rounded picture.

If you’re looking for emotional support:

Tell them this change is what you need. Tell them you need encouragement, or that you’re feeling anxious and want them to reassure you and acknowledge the strength it is taking you to move forward.

Our friends and family can be great allies when we’re seeking a change of direction. They just sometimes need a little help and guidance to stay firmly on our side!

I’d love to hear about the friend or family member who gives you that unconditional support. What is it they do to make you feel safe, yet brave enough to branch out into new areas?

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Amanda Cullen (3 reviews ) Business Coach, Career Coach, Life Coach

I am a transition coach, working with those embarking on change. Change is exciting, but challenging. It can often also be a lonely place, particularly if you are in a position of authority. Read more