How to stop stress preventing you from pursuing changes in your career (in two easy steps!)


‘The best way to make decisions is to go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.’ 

How to make stress your friend, Kelly McGonigal (TED talk)

I recently listened to the Ted talk, How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal, and it reminded me of the decision-making process I went through to make a career change. After a lot of research, I had reached a point when I had an idea of what I wanted to do but my fear that a career change would be too stressful initially prevented me from pursing my idea.

Like many of us, I was viewing stress as a negative thing. The thing that causes us to lose sleep, eat too much or eat too little. It can make us feel anxious and it can make us grumpy. We all respond to stress in different ways and, when our response is negative, we develop fears and avoid making decisions.

In her TED talk, McGonigal talks about how we should change our thinking and view our response to stress in a positive way to enable us to move forward with decisions. In particular, she explains how we can become resilient to stress through human connection and reaching out to others. In building this resilience, we can then trust ourselves to handle life’s challenges and we won’t be alone whilst doing it.  If you are at a crossroad in your career and finding it hard to decide which direction to go in, my suggestion to you is do a reality check through a very simple two-step process:

  1. Become aware of what is concerning you and making you feel stressed. I remember when I was thinking about a career change, I was concerned about telling people – what would their reaction be? I was also concerned about venturing into the unknown.
  2. Acknowledge and accept your concerns and create a simple statement such as ‘I acknowledge that the change will be stressful to me but I know my need is greater and it is worth going through the stress. The benefit is that I will have a job I want’.

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