Exaggerated Fear: The Main Reason For Stopping Career Change

You need career courage

“I don’t want to make my family homeless.” Ted said. Ted was currently unemployed.  He had been laid off four times since 2008, largely because his industry has never recovered from The Great Recession.  His wife works and he has a reasonable amount of savings for someone in his late thirties, the beneficiary of a wealthy grandparent.

Ted has a marketable skill set but most of the work that he can do does not correlate to a full time job because his industry is dominated by small family owned businesses in Connecticut.  The career counseling idea for a solution is fairly obvious: start a consulting entity and get projects from multiple companies.  To be clear, I’m not suggesting the execution of any business idea is easy, just that the concept is a sound one, to which Ted readily agreed.  He fully believed that he could get several clients in the next few months from contacts he had. But… it was not a full time job. And, if he didn’t have a full time job, he told himself, his family would be homeless.

I recently have immersed myself in reading Stoic philosophy.  Among the attractive career counseling tenets: understand reality. In Ted’s case, he currently did not have a full time job.  Indeed, in the last 9 years, he has had several periods without full time employment. His fear about being homeless was disproved by current reality and recent past reality.  His exaggerated fear was further exposed by his wife’s income – which covered about 90% of the bills – , his savings which could cover the remaining 10% for several years, and relatives in Connecticut, such as his wealthy grandmother, who could help him if he ever was truly in a financial tailspin.

In terms of viewing a full time job within his industry as preferable compared to a consulting business due to the security of a full time job , this too did not comport with reality.  Ted had been laid off 4 times in 9 years.  His income went from 100% to 0% instantly.  Ted agreed that he would likely be able to earn at least the same but probably more as a consultant.  But thoughts – accurate – about the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurial life frightened him.  I pointed out the ebbs and flows of his “full time employment”.

Soon enough, Ted understood and go to work building his dream.