Common Resistances to Changing Jobs


A great job opportunity is yours for the taking. It sounds like the chance of a lifetime, and yet you find yourself resisting the urge to go for it. Changing jobs or pursuing a new career path is a big decision that should not be made in haste. However, there are some common reasons why people resist an opportunity even when they really want to go for it. Resistances can cause a great deal of stress and make you doubt whether the job is really what you want. It is helpful to identify your resistances so that you can make the choice that is right for you.

Staying in your comfort zone

Your current job is familiar, and it can be comfortable to stay with what you know. This is especially true if you like your job and feel that you are good at it. You are also familiar with the people you work with and the company culture. Even if you aren’t particularly happy with your job, your boss, your benefits, ect., at least you know what to expect. What if I give up all this for something that is unpredictable?

Fear of Failure

In addition to being familiar, your current job is likely something you are good at. People are hired because they possess certain knowledge and skills that make them good at their jobs, and experience adds to that competency. If the new job opportunity involves more responsibility or requires new skills, you might be afraid that you won’t be able to handle it. What if I go for it and can’t cut it?

Minimize Risk

You have a job. You have a regular paycheck. Stable employment is not something to take for granted. Although you recognize that the new job is a great opportunity, it can feel risky to change jobs. The risk is even greater if you are changing companies, switching career paths, or moving to a new state or country. What if I make this change, and it doesn’t work out?

No Regrets

People can be so afraid of having regrets that they avoid trying. If you don’t try, you can’t fail, and you won’t feel like you wish you wouldn’t have. What if I take this job, and I wish I could go back?

At this point, you should see a common theme among these resistances. They are all based on what-if thinking: What if I don’t like the new job? What if I’m not good at it? What if I take it, fail, and lose my job? What if I make the change and regret it? It’s no coincidence that these resistances are all phrased as questions, because they are really all based on fear of the unknown. If you could fast forward and see exactly what the new job is like and how much you would or would not like it, the choice would be easy. In reality, the only way to answer these questions is to make the unknown, known: take the risk and go for it.

Your resistances may be valid and should be considered. However, the decision should be based on what you really want for yourself and your career, and not on the anticipation of worst-case scenarios. Remember, people often regret what they don’t do more than what they do.

This article was written by Sherrie Elzey, Ph.D., a chemical engineer and freelance technical writer/editor. Sherrie has a background in nanoscience and nanotechnology research, with experience in academia, government, and industry positions. 

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One Response to Common Resistances to Changing Jobs

  1. Mark Brandt says:

    All of these are too true. Not enough people realize that stepping outside of your comfort zone is almost always necessary in order to really get what you want in life. Sometimes you just have to take a risk now and then.

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