What if you don’t like your new career choice?

What if you don't like your new career choice? Photo looking down a street of colourful houses in the mediterranean. A scooter is in the foreground.

Oh the fear of finding out you don’t like your new career choice – it’s the stuff of nightmares. 

Out of the fire and into the frying pan.

You make a move towards opening a café only to find cooking and baking on a larger scale isn’t quite so much fun and it certainly isn’t relaxing like it is at home in the kitchen.

You move from a role in a large corporate to a start-up and discover you can’t hack the ‘chaos’.

When you envisaged writing a book, you didn’t anticipate feeling this lonely.

What on earth do you do now?

Firstly, don’t panic, this is part of the journey for some people. Until we try something and we can touch it, feel it and experience it we will never fully know the effect it will have on us.

Secondly, congratulations! The good news is everything you are experiencing is information – data if you will – the stuff the nitty gritty reality of a career change is built on. This, you can work with to keep moving along in your career change journey.

Thirdly, you don’t have to stay in this place – your new career dreams are not over!

I offer 5 balms for the disappointed career changer in you. Apply liberally for best results

Play the long game.

I bore even myself with this one but it’s sooooo important to keep in mind as you implement your career change.


It’s normal and the more you can adjust to this the easier it will be to step back from where you find yourself and work out your next move. If you think of your career change happening across a 5 year period, what can you gain from where you are? 

Instead of thinking of this as a failure, reframe it to this is just bringing me a step closer to finding the new career I want. 

What information (data) is being presented to you that you can take and work with to begin figuring out your next move? This is where you reignite shift projects, an approach to test out the new possibilities that begin to arise (see this blogpost I wrote about how to test your new career options) – take action to explore where the information you have gathered is leading you. 

Is there anything you do like?

Which aspects of this career choice are working for you?  Maybe it’s the hours, the location, the size of the company. 

Which parts have you got right in this new career choice? Make a note of these to ensure they don’t get lost in the emotions you are feeling about things not working out as you had hoped. This is important data for your next step in your journey and all feeds into what you want to keep as you undertake further shift projects – don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

And congratulate yourself for what is working for you! You worked hard to find all this hidden treasure and you’ve ensured some of it is beginning to be put at the centre of your new career – that’s not easy! 

Curiosity will lead to unexpected outcomes.

Curiosity may have killed the cat but it breathes life into discovering and exploring new career possibilities. 

I find curiosity immediately lends an air of lightness and openness which enables a shift to thinking about what could be rather than focussing on what is. It allows you to search for the hidden next step!

Ask yourself these questions to fire up your curiosity in the face of disappointment:

If I view this new career choice through the lens of curiosity, what does that give me?

If I view this choice as just another step in my journey to finding the right career, what am I learning about myself?

What possibilities could open up for my next step?

Curiosity is your friend when playing the long game of career change, and as with any great friendship, it needs tending, so come back to these questions which go hand in hand with the approach set out above under Play the long game

Everything is an experiment.

Treat this choice you have made as an experiment.

Identify what worked about the process that got you here and note what could be improved on for the next experiment in your career change journey.

As with many experiments, you might not have the outcome you were hoping for, but you will have learnt something – maybe you’re clearer on what you don’t want in a job, the distance you’re willing to travel, that this type of creativity doesn’t bring out your type of creativity. 

Every experiment will lead you closer to discovering the career choice that works for you. 

What if there isn’t an end goal?

I’m sure the older you get the more you realise that the concept of everything being better once you have ‘arrived’ at a point in work, relationships and your own development and healing, is rubbish.

Quite frankly, rather than peeling back layers of an onion I’d like to go at it with a butcher’s knife and chop the onion in two so I can get on with working through whatever reveals itself.

Alas, this is not the way and I’ve been coming to terms with the idea that I shall never really ‘arrive’ as each goal I set is more like a stop on a train journey. I may as well get used to it and try and experience the now on the way to my next goal, knowing that after that there will be another goal and another goal and these may be different to what I am envisaging now because I won’t be the same person and my dreams, desires, responsibilities, fears and worries will change and ebb and flow.

So, instead of an overall goal, set a new career intention and keep working towards it. Accept the twists and turns in the journey and that maybe, just maybe, the fact that your new career choice has turned out to be a disappointment could be key to you making a new discovery that reveals another layer of the onion, that allows for more healing and that actually takes you closer to the career that fits you.

In closing, I encourage you to get back into career discovery mode, kick start your curiosity, explore the possibilities that emerge from here and get experimenting – basically, take action until the next step presents itself and allow it to take time. Seek out what is hiding from you.  There is more for you beyond your disappointment.

Keep going! 

Photo by La So on Unsplash.