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Learn How to Change the Things You Can Change

Sometimes we're stopped from reaching our career goals by things we can actually change. Try these tips to improve your career by changing the things you can.

Start by creating 2 lists of your career challenges. One for the things you might be able to change. The other is for the things you can’t change. Some challenges, like a downturn in the economy or a physical disability, you can’t change. For help in dealing with the things you can’t change, check out Handling Challenges: Dealing with the Things You Can’t Change. For now, focus on the things you might be able to change.

Identify what you want

When you have a clear sense of direction, it’s easier to see what’s standing in your way. To help you build your list, think about what you want in your career and if there are any challenges that may be blocking you.

Check out these resources for help in describing what you want:

If you’re not sure what you want in your career, get to know your options:

Decide what to do

Once you’re satisfied with your list of career challenges you might be able to change, look at it and think about each challenge. Think about how you can to stop it from blocking you. Write down your ideas.

If you can’t decide what to do, remember that most big decisions are actually made up of many smaller, simpler decisions. Check out these resources for help with decision-making in your career:

Remember, very few career decisions are final. You can usually change your mind and your plans. But not making any decision can mean you miss career opportunities.

Face your fears

Next, think about each challenge and decide if your own fears are blocking you. Change is often scary. You face many unknowns. You may also find it hard to leave a familiar situation, whether it’s a job, attitudes or habits. Change can also be exciting. Knowing what you want can give you the energy to go after it and the courage to face the unknowns.

If your fears are blocking you, try these suggestions:

  • Know what you’re good at. When you can identify your skills, strengths and accomplishments, you’ll worry less about meeting the challenges of something new.
  • Fill in the gaps. If you think you lack skills or experience, take a continuing education course, do some upgrading or volunteer in the field you’re interested in.
  • Be prepared. Anticipating problems and knowing that you can handle them can give you confidence to move forward:
    • Make a Plan B. For example, if you’re worried you won’t get into the education program you want, look into similar programs at different schools.
    • Organize back-up support systems. For example, if you’re relying on one person to care for your children, figure out who can step in if your caregiver gets sick. If you’re leaving support systems behind, look for new ones.
    • Know who your allies are: the people in your network you can rely on. Tell them your plans and ask for their support.
  • Believe in yourself. Friends and family sometimes resist change. If you’re feeling pressured to make a choice that doesn’t suit you, remind yourself about your skills and abilities. Explain to your friends and family why the path you want to take is a good one for you. Tell them what you are doing to be ready to take that path.

Find help and support

If you’ve tried the tips in this article and still struggle with things you think you can change, look for additional help. See if you can find the help you need through the people in your network or these services:

Take action to overcome your challenges

Personal challenges are a normal part of life, whether you’re looking for a job or making career or education decisions. If you feel stuck facing a challenge, go back to your vision and your values. Be clear about what matters to you. You can overcome your doubts and worries and focus your energy on your plans.

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