Often people contemplate a change of career with some trepidation, holding fears such as:

- Will I be able to achieve what I am aiming for?
- What if I don’t earn enough money?
- Will I regret my decision?

One common tool for helping you to decide whether you are right in wanting to change jobs is for you to draw up a list of costs and benefits of making the decision to make a big leap into a new career.

Whilst this approach is useful, it is unlikely to resolve the fears or anxieties you have about making the big leap. In order to help with those, I would suggest the following approach:

1. Make a Risk Assessment of the most significant risks of deciding to change career. In your Risk Assessment, for each potential risk you think of, set out:

– What will be the potential negative consequences if the risk materialises

– How likely you think it is that the risk will materialise (You can either use a scoring scale or else define things in a range of probabilities – e.g. ‘Very likely’, ‘Quite likely’, ‘Possible’ etc.)

– Then give each risk a Priority Rating (e.g. 10 means you need to treat the risk with the highest priority, 0 means it is of no significance at all). Note that in order to assign priority you will need to balance the two factors listed above (potential consequences and likelihood). For example, if a risk is very likely to materialise but the potential negative consequences from it are very small, then that risk probably does not need a particularly high priority. because it will not jeopardise your success even if it materialises

2. Once you have assigned your priorities you need to create a Risk Management Plan, to deal with all the risks but in particular for those risks which you have judged to be of highest priority. In the plan for each risk set out:

- What you can do now to reduce the likelihood of the risk materialising at all (e.g. through advance planning and research of the option you are pursuing and how to achieve it).

- What can you do to limit the impact if the risk does materialise (this might for example include having a contingency plan in place for what you will do if the new career does not work out as expected).

You can use your Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plans to help you decide for each risk whether it is a risk that you are prepared to take and use your Risk Management Plan to help you plan and implement step by step actions to help you maintain progress if you do decide to pursue your dream.

If you find it difficult to be objective about what the risks are or about how to manage them, then you may benefit from the support of a coach to help you work through the options and decide what you want to do.

The other element where a good coach may be able to help you is in dealing with your mental inhibitions about taking action – for example by showing you practical techniques to assist you when your motivation is low or when negative thoughts are running through your mind.

It is important to include mental or emotional aspects amongst the risks that you assess, if these are significant for you. For example, one of my clients who decided to create her own business in a creative field identified as one of the main risks:

Risk of feeling lonely and isolated and loss of confidence.

Through discussion in coaching we were able to create simple elements in the Risk Management Plan to help her plan for how to deal with this risk if it arose, including:

- identifying and making use of possible support systems she might use

- deciding not to be over critical of herself if she did start to lose confidence, but to learn from situations

- reminding herself of the benefits of achieving her career change when difficulties arose

- following the Project Plan she had created in coaching sessions to facilitate her career change in a step by step manner and updating it at regular intervals.

Through the assistance of the Risk Management Plan she was able to make the transition from a stressful, unfulfilling career into a career which she found creative and meaningful.

Author's Bio: 

David Bonham-Carter, MA, DipSW, CPE is an international life coach and stress consultant with over 15 years experience in the field of personal change management who has been featured on BBC radio giving expert life coaching advice.

Life Coach London, Bristol, UK and Worldwide.

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