3 obstacles to overcome to change your professional life

3 obstacles to overcome to change your professional life
3 obstacles to overcome to change your professional life

To help you gain perspective on your situation, I would first like to share with you three internal obstacles that generally stand in the way of major changes in our lives. The first two are linked to the functioning of our brain and they correspond to cognitive biases described by neuroscience. A cognitive bias is a systematic error in our perception or judgment, which leads us to adopt irrational behavior. The third obstacle is linked to our concept of money and our beliefs about it.

Face the fear of the unknown

One of the most well-known cognitive biases is the familiarity bias. It consists of trusting more in what is familiar or close to us, in what we know well, and always favoring it over other options. What we know well has a positive connotation and seems more reassuring to us. This explains why we value our company, our profession, our work more simply because they are more familiar to us.

To limit the effects of this bias, you will have to familiarize yourself with other professions and other professional environments than yours. To do this, increase your discussions with experts in the sector that interests you. Explore and document yourself until your future profession seems more familiar to you. To this end, you can decide to have “learning experiences”.

This involves, for example, doing an internship, volunteering experience in an association, or an observation day in the company that interests you. It can also be as simple as having coffee with someone who works in your dream job. You can start your investigation within your company and with those close to you. Some people even take time off to have learning experiences. This is very important, it gives your brain valuable information, captured by your body, therefore richer than what you can learn online or in books.

Take (reasonable) risks

Loss aversion is a concept from behavioral economics. It is a cognitive and behavioral bias that makes humans attach more importance to a loss than to a gain of the same value. When a change is considered, we therefore see above all what we have to lose and we attach (sometimes too) great importance to this potential loss rather than to the expected gains.

In the case of a career change, just imagining yourself in a different job gives rise to terrifying ideas of how much you might lose in terms of security, income, relationships, comfort, etc. and you find it much more difficult to accurately assess what you will gain if you choose to change. […]

To control your aversion to loss, you will have to objectify the advantages of your current job. To do this, you can make a list of what you particularly like today, what you really don’t want to lose: what you absolutely want to keep in your professional life. This way, you will have identified what is valuable to you and what you decide to find in your future experience.

Naturally, loss aversion and familiarity bias reinforce each other and make sure you don’t dare venture into other lands. You will therefore have to be more cunning than them! […]

Calm down your relationship with money

In a change as important as a reorientation of your professional life, the relationship you have with money will play a determining role. Your relationship with money can help you or hinder you. […]Our needs are not necessarily always linked to our purchasing power. It could therefore be that your quality of life is less dependent than you think on the amount of your salary. From the moment you have enough food and shelter, your survival is no longer in danger. Your basic needs for subsistence and protection are ensured.

If it seems impossible to you to engage in a professional path that is less remunerative than your current situation, you can still get involved and contribute to a better world. This is a case that I have encountered among many people whom I have supported in their retraining project. Money is a very good support for our conscious or unconscious fears. If the idea of ​​earning less terrifies you because you have no idea what you could save on, you can try the following method.

Start by building up security savings if you haven’t already done so, by setting the amount that will reassure you completely. With how much money in your account will you feel prepared to face a possible blow? Generally, experts advise setting aside an amount that would allow you to live for about six months without income. If you are not yet saving, start with very small amounts (3% of your salary for three months, then 5%, then 10%…). It will be painless. Important: set up an automatic savings transfer at the start of the month, when you have just received your salary. Once you have saved your security sum, keep it in a secure booklet and breathe.

Once your security savings have been built up, you can then decide to continue saving. Or you can decide to donate this amount each month to an association that works for a cause that is close to your heart. On that day, part of your donations will even be returned to you in the form of a tax credit and you will therefore regain purchasing power! This is what the English call Earn to give: to earn money to give it away. It’s the simplest and most accessible way to make a big impact through your work.

Indeed, we are not all made to devote our entire professional lives to the major challenges of humanity and it is just as important that associations are financed by generous donations. This is the path that some of my clients have taken and it has allowed them to feel truly useful without leaving their jobs.

To note

This text is taken from the book “Dare the professions of ecological and inclusive transition”, written by Olivier Perrin. Released by Dunod in May 2024. 19.90 euros.

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