Do You Have Career Anxiety?
Does thinking about your future feel overwhelming and stressful?
Do you have doubts about your future or the decisions you make?
Do you find yourself saying, “I’m just not sure what to do!”
Choosing a major, deciding on a career path, and planning for your future can cause significant stress for some people.
Faced with what seems like a crucial life decision, it’s easy to experience career anxiety, which may show up as fear and indecision. You may also experience pressure from others who may be asking about your career decision or encouraging you towards a particular path or major. While their intentions are good, the most important person to listen to is yourself. Only you know what is best for you.
The first thing to remember in career decision-making is that it is a life-long process. Career decisions change over time and develop as a person develops throughout life. Knowing yourself is essential to making wise decisions. You should explore several factors with a career counselor such as your interests, skills, abilities, values, personal traits, and desired lifestyle. A career counselor can also assist you in developing skills to cope with career anxiety so that you continue to move forward and not find yourself stuck and not taking action towards your career goals.
You will also need to know about available careers to determine where you fit in best. Research, research, research! Talk to career counselors, academic advisors, and faculty members. If you discover a particular field of interest, explore the field by talking with people in the field, volunteering or seeking an internship. Read job descriptions, find out entrance requirements, research the market outlook, and join student and professional organizations.
The better you understand yourself and the more you know about your options, the better your decisions will be. Finding the right career fit is a dynamic process. Keep in mind that you are not deciding your future when choosing a major or making a career choice. Most people in the workplace change not only their job, but also their entire career field an average of three or four times. Each step along the career path provides a foundation for the steps that follow.
A career counselor can help you sort through your options and help what seems to be an overwhelming array of possibilities become manageable and realistic. A career counselor won’t make the decision for you, but can provide the necessary tools to help you better understand yourself and where you fit in the world of work.
If you have spent time exploring yourself and your career options, but still feel anxious about deciding on a career or about the one you have chosen, you may want to ask yourself what factors might be blocking the decision.
Many factors can contribute to career anxiety:
- Parents can put pressure on you to choose a “practical” major such as engineering or accounting, or want you to be a doctor when you really want to work in business.
- You may think it important to please someone else, someone whom you value highly such as a parent, girlfriend or boyfriend, or even a professor.
- Fears may also be contributing to your discomfort; there are many fears people have that contribute to feeling stressed about deciding on a career or major. Many of these fears are just part of normal anxiety.
- Fears may include: fear of the unknown, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of failure, or fear about one’s competence.
Examples of questions you might be asking yourself include, “Will I make it out in the workplace? What if I don’t get hired or get into school? Will I disappoint my family? How can I decide what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
All of these may relate to a fear that makes it more difficult for you to decide on a career path. You may find it helpful to explore these concerns or talk about them with a career counselor.
Consider the following strategies to help with decision-making and alleviate career anxiety:
- Seek information from knowledgeable sources: career counselor, professor, academic advisor, recruiter, employee or alumnus in the field. Opinions (no matter how well intentioned) may not be helpful if the person offering the advice is inexperienced or biased.
- Set goals! Make a plan to accomplish those goals. Write them down and stick to them. Sometimes setting small, immediate goals can help with the decision making process and make things more manageable. For example, “I will contact 2 people who can help me identify referral sources this week.”
Making a career choice gives you a goal to work toward and helps alleviate the stress and anxiety you may experience about not knowing. Planning a career doesn’t need to make you feel like you’re locking yourself into one way of life. You are simply setting foot down a path that can take you many directions; you have plenty of time to try something different. Above all, choose what you enjoy. Remember, people who do what they love tend to do it well and find ways to do it even in a changing workplace.
If you want to delve deeper into understanding your career anxiety and overcoming fears that might be getting in the way of enjoying a satisfying career, a career counselor can help. You can meet with one of our career counselors in the privacy of your home if you prefer. Contact us to find out more.
Want more help with your career?
Contact one of our counselors in Houston for help. Our therapists are available for face to face sessions as online therapy sessions in limited areas.
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