Why are we afraid to discuss our career ideas with others?

I sort of “fell into” IT and always had this niggle that it wasn’t quite me. I enjoyed the roles I had, but eventually this felt not enough. The ‘normal’ career path (in my head) was to keep heading upwards in IT. And of course the people around me assumed that was what I wanted, as I never shared anything different! I struggled to properly figure out what I needed to change, because I didn’t talk it through honestly enough with others.

Why was I so afraid to share what I really felt?

Firstly, I was afraid of being judged. I’ve since reflected on why:

  • Because I didn’t have a clear alternative laid out. I had some vague ideas of what I might want to do, but it felt ‘wishy washy’. Best to wait until I have it worked it all out and can sound more sure of myself”

  • Because I was afraid what people would think if didn’t follow the ‘normal’ career path. “They’ll think I’m crazy after all this time, wasting my proven skills”.

Secondly, if I shared how I felt, then I’d have to go and make something happen and that would be scary! My comfort zone beckoned… 

Even talking with friends, I often focused on sharing what I wanted to move away from (the get-it-all-off-my-chest session!), as I’d get some nice sympathy and feel cared for and listened to. Sometimes they offered suggestions. I came away feeling a bit better, but was I motivated to make a bold plan?

This is why we sometimes get stuck. We get scared at the thought of stepping into something new, so we don’t create a proper plan, and we worry about sharing our ideas with others when it all sounds so vague (or crazy!), so there is no-one to encourage us, help us or hold us to account, so we stay scared… and on it goes.

This is why I am so passionate about coaching, because it gives you that safe and non-judgemental space to explore your thoughts and ideas.

So what can you do to feel more comfortable opening up to others about your ideas for change, so that you can have conversations that help to move you forward, rather than keeping you stuck?

  • Think about what you are not sharing with others. Ask yourself what is stopping you. What are you afraid of? 

  • Think about what you are sharing with others. Is it focused on all the things you don’t like about your current job or career? Are you (subconsciously) inviting them to make you feel better about the situation or make suggestions to ‘rescue’ you from it?

  • If you are putting forward some ideas, check how you are doing this. Are you doing this rather tentatively, with a question mark, inviting their approval? If you are a ‘people pleaser’, like me, then this if often the case!

  • Think about what support you actually want to get from the person, whether that be your boss, a colleague, a friend. What would be more helpful to share with them and how?

Here are some ideas for framing the conversation:

“I have some thoughts about my career and I’d really like to talk them through with you. They’re not fully formed yet, but it would be really helpful to bounce some ideas off you.”

I might ramble on a bit, but talking about it out loud like this will help me to get my thoughts clearer. I don’t need you to come up with ideas just now. Please just listen!”

Can you help me come up with one action I can take to start things moving? And I’ll give you permission to check up on me to see if I’ve done it!!”

Copyright © 2022 Heather Wright