Are you stuck in a dead-end job? Ready for a career change, but prefer staying in an already known cave. Even though it is becoming smaller and smaller? Your dead-end job is your comfort zone, which is slowly undermining your serenity, energy, tranquillity…

This was my case for years.

My feelings were clear that I didn’t like my job even though from the outside, it wasn’t so bad. My job offered me security, great respect from the outside, and inside my company, a decent salary, I had a great manager…But nevertheless, my job just wasn’t fulfilling for me.

I was obviously miserable, but for a too long time, I didn’t do anything to change my situation, which is typically not me. Usually, I like to have the feeling of being in charge of my life. But in that situation, I just was not able to sit into the driver’s seat.  

I preferred to settle for what I already had. Somehow, I tried to believe that things will take care of themselves. It was so safe there. I tried to convince myself I was okay with the status quo.

But it was not easy to hide either. There were alerts all around me that I wasn’t in the right place. I became embarrassed to talk with others about what I do for a living, but on the other hand, I tried to give meaning to my work by being busy with loads of work. And I was more and more mental fatigue, the emptiness and dissatisfaction with my job became bigger and bigger and consequently even at home I wasn’t present as I would have liked to be. And I complained a lot about everything.

You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks the light in you.

I convinced myself that I had to be reasonable; after all, I have small children, a mortgage, we have to travel at least twice per year, we have to make savings… There were so many reasons (mainly financial) that stopped me from thinking about my career change.

If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely. Seth Godin

I’ve struggled on and off for years to convince myself that everything was okay, but I wasn’t convincing enough. One day I couldn’t close my eyes anymore. Eventually, I came out on the other side.

I admitted that all these reasonable reasons were just excuses. I had so many fears, which I let them guide me instead that I would have had control over them.

Fear of rejection, fear of losing security, fear of the unknown, fear of leaving behind a life I’ve invested so much in.

I was scared of what would happen if I try.

I was scared of failing.

I was scared by the fact that I didn’t know what to do next.

I was scared of what if I make a lousy job change choice.

I was scared of proving that I was not good enough.

Analyses paralyzed me. My fears were more significant than the potential reward of succeeding. It was more comfortable not having a new dream, even if that meant that I had to give up on my fulfillment.

But fortunately, there was also one more fear, the fear of not making a move. The fear of looking back on my life with regret. The fear of living with the knowledge that I was still in a wrong job because I was too afraid of potential lost what I already had.

For all this time, I thought I was playing it safe in terms of the protection of my family and myself. But what was the cost of this? Paradoxically, I sacrificed myself for that.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Mark Twain

I finally acknowledged the critical yet protective internal voice in my head, and I decided that I was not going to let it control my life anymore. And my journey of self-discovery in terms of following my hidden dreams started.

Usually, what happens when we want to step out of our comfort zone is that all the self-doubt and fears come up, which is a normal part of the process. It’s showing you all the stuff that’s standing in the way, coming up to be cleared. Our conscious mind is trying to protect us, but it doesn’t consider the sacrifices on the other side. So, this is the time to roll your sleeves up and get into your uncomfortable zone, where you grow into the new you. The clarity of where you want to go and why you want to go there will give you the determination, which will make you unstoppable.

Making a career transition between two jobs can be daunting, scary, stressful, confusing, but it is not necessary to be like that. Don’t let this stops you from taking steps to your better future.

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. Seth Godin

How to step out from your comfort zone and make an end to a dead-end job:

1. What you get if you make a change.

Start with a list of all the reasons why a career transition is right for you. Think of everything that you would gain from taking it. Consider how this change would also influence other aspects of your life.

2. What the cost if you stay in your comfort zone is.

Write down a list of what is the price if you don’t make changes in terms of your career? And also, think of everything that your comfort zone gives you and why it’s so pleasant to stay there.

3. Name your fears.

Acknowledge everything that is stopping you from making a change. Address your fears and write them down. It may happen that some of your fears will be the opposite of the benefits which you get if you stay in your comfort zone.

4. Understand and reframe your fears.

Try to understand where your fears are coming from. It is not rare that many of our fears have the same root. This is your belief about yourself, which, if you don’t consciously acknowledge it, you usually are not aware of.

5. Minimize the risk.

Assess the risk and break it down. Take small steps – if you can break what you are afraid of into small steps, it helps avoid the paralysis and gets you moving.

6. Integrate others into your job change.

Discuss your fears with your family, friends, people from work. You will see many of your worries are irrational and not reasonable. As you get different views, you will be able to see your worries more objectively. You will see that many of them, if not all, are manageable.

7. Understand your strengths, interests, and values.

Explore what you like to do, what you do best, what personal attributes are your greatest assets, and what values about work, relationships, leisure time, and lifestyle are determining factors in your career decisions.

8. Create your own vision of where you want to get to.

Articulate what you’re committed to achieving. Imagine how do you envision yourself in your next job role? Pay special attention to your emotions and feelings you want to experience in your new job. What is most vital for you to feel?  Is it essential for you to be acknowledged, seen and heard, creative, safe, free? Your motivation should be guided by the movement toward something you want  and not away from something you don’t.

9. Set your goals.

Direct your career vision into a concrete right-size goal that’s ambitious but doesn’t overwhelm you. Set goals that are aligned with your strengths. If you understand your strengths and you apply them to your job, there are fewer chances that you will end in the wrong job again. And don’t be vague, set SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bounded.

10. Think of all potential barriers that could stop you from accomplishing your goals.

Discuss them with others to assess if they are actually unbreakable and how objectively you see them. It is not rare that they are barriers more in your head based on your limiting beliefs.

11. Make Your Plan – Create Milestones.

Your Milestones will serve as shorter-term goals on your way to your ultimate goal. SMART goal setting will help you with this.

12. Continue with Baby Steps.

Think of how you can break each milestone down into even smaller steps. Doing so, you avoid feelings such as being overwhelmed, daunting, frustrated…

Once you recognize the fear response as trying to protect you from falling, you can decide to go for it. Take one step at a time toward your goal. Listen to your fear, and your vision, and let them guide your next small action. With consistency and persistence, you’ll get there.

My change wasn’t an easy journey.  And as I was traveling alone, without guidance, it took me much longer time to figure out how to sail towards the right direction on the ocean of life. But thanks to my determination to face and conquer my fears, I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone, which further leads me to find my ultimate fulfillment and serenity.

We spend roughly one-third of our life at work. That’s too much time to let yourself feel empty, bored, frustrated, unappreciated, or underpaid. Therefore, yes, even though change can be difficult, as you are about to step into something unknown, the comfort zone can be a dangerous place to be in as well. Please, don’t wait for the right time to come, as it never will. There will always be a busy schedule, things that need to be done, children who need you…But if you have read to the very end of this article, there are big chances that you can relate to my story. Therefore, I challenge you; change before change finds you. The cost of giving up your dreams and staying in your comfort zone could be too costly.