I realized recently where 99% percent of my stress comes from.

Last month we had a mold explosion in our house. It started with a few spots on our window frames and closet shelves, and then suddenly three days later I noticed that it was covering everything—and I mean everything, up to and including my grandmother’s antique rocking chair—like some sort of evil new varnish.

My stress level rose immediately. But what I find interesting is that it wasn’t the problem itself that caused the stress. When I was resolving the issue by pouring Mold Control over everything in the house or buying a dehumidifier, I felt powerful, not stressed.

The stress came before I took action, when I was considering possible solutions and believing that they were all going to be very hard to make work.

The proverb’s wrong—it’s anticipation that killed the cat.

 My sense is that many of us avoid career change for similar reasons: we believe it’s going to be extremely difficult to make work.

Many people I talk to worry that they don’t know what they want to do, don’t have the right skills, don’t know the right people, won’t make enough money, or don’t know how to transition properly. Most think they don’t have the time, energy, or wisdom to figure it all out.

So we avoid taking action, telling ourselves that our current job isn’t so bad after all. Or we put it off until later, thinking that next year will be a better time to make a change.

What the cat actually experienced

Though I expect every challenge I face to be nearly impossible to solve, they seldom are. The mold hasn’t come back since our thorough cleaning and the introduction of a dehumidifier.

And making a successful career change doesn’t have to be hard either. In fact, I’ve seen it be quite easy.

Here are three reasons career change might very well be more painless than you think:

1. Sometimes what we really want isn’t hard to find.

I had a client once who was a project manager at an engineering firm. When we first started working together, she was burnt out and pretty sure she needed to do something drastically different. We explored lots of ideas, from home renovation to graywater installation. None of them felt right to her.

When we explored further, we found that what she really wanted was to feel as if she was creating something tangible and needed. Shortly thereafter, a friend let her know about a job with a local government engineering infrastructure improvements. She applied and got the job, and everything about the process was easy—her skills easily transferred, she felt confident in the interview, and she got along well with her future team.

When you get clear on what’s most important to you, it can be very straightforward to find (and sometimes it even finds you).

2. A good fit makes everything easier.

After getting my MBA, I got an interview for an internship at a social enterprise investment firm. The interview went well until the very end. When I took out my calendar to schedule a time to meet with the partners, the woman who had been interviewing me suddenly frowned. “Is that an anarchist calendar?” she asked me disapprovingly. “I don’t think that we can tolerate an anarchist working here.”

I immediately flushed with shame as I realized my mistake. I wasn’t an anarchist, but I’d bought the calendar at an anarchist bookstore the year before and hadn’t thought about it since.

Just then the woman flashed a smile at me. “Just kidding,” she said. “I love Long Haul Books! I got my calendar there last year too.” She ended up hiring me, and I worked there for over 3 years.

When you find a great fit, things feel easier. You don’t have to try so hard. You can lack skills or experience. You can make mistakes. You can even break out an anarchist calendar at a company devoted to capitalism.

3. You inner wisdom will point you towards the smoothest path.

I had a client once who was having a really hard time finding a job. He was looking for a position in IT at a university. His search felt excruciatingly difficult, and he wasn’t finding anything good.

Then one day he found the job he had been looking for, and he promptly realized that he didn’t actually want it. What he did want was more autonomy, greater impact, and the opportunity to work with creative people. What he was truly excited about (and scared by) was freelancing. When he realized this, his search became much easier to take action on.

Following what we think we should do or what feels safe and secure often leads to struggle and hardship. Following our soul’s desire, our inner wisdom, and what we truly want usually leads to a much smoother, much more fruitful path.

Questions to Make an Easy Change

 There are a few questions that I’ve found can help me recognize the smooth (and fruitful) path. They include:

  • What sounds good to me? What energizes or excites me? What sounds “delicious” when I think about doing it?
  • Where do I belong? With what types of people do I feel at ease, appreciated, confident, or valued?
  • What comes easily to me? Which next steps make me feel tense and stressed? Which allow me to relax and breathe?

Over to You

What helps you find ease in the process of making a change? Please share your experience and thoughts in the comments below so the rest of us can learn from them.

Find Ease in Your Career Change

You know what else makes things easier? Getting somebody else’s help. I offer Clarity Calls designed to help you get clear about what you’re wanting and create your personal roadmap for transitioning into meaningful work you love. Click here to find out what else you’ll get in this one-on-one session and how to schedule yours at a time that’s convenient for you.

Photo credit: Me! This is actually a picture of my husband joking around in Arches National Park on our honeymoon.