You want to make a change.  You really do.  It’s just that you don’t want to make a change that you’ll regret.

How do you know this is what you really want?  You thought the jobs you took up to now would make you happy, and they didn’t.  Who’s to say the next job you choose will be any different?

And change requires money, time, and energy.  What if you go back to school and then realize it’s not for you?  What if you give up everything you have, start all over, and then end up back where you started—miserable in your job after the newness wears off?  What if it’s all a waste?

This prospect is scary for anyone wanting to make a career change because the future is inherently uncertain.  And yet your fear underestimates you and what’s possible when you really, truly listen to yourself.

You have a powerful GPS system already operating within you.  When you tune into it and follow its guidance, any career change you make, no matter the outcome, will bring you closer to what you want.

Case in point: I’ve coached dozens of clients to answer their calling, and not a single one has regretted the change they made in their career.  While their processes were quite different, they all had a few, key things in common:

They drew from all 3 types of intelligence.

Most of the time we use our intellectual intelligence to make decisions.  We reason, analyze, list pros and cons, and try to find the option that makes the most sense.

Often this leads us to ping-pong back-and-forth between options without a real sense of which one is right for us, or which one we won’t regret.

That’s because while intellectual intelligence is great at solving certain types of problems, it has very little to tell us about passion, desire, and purpose, the very things we need to know about if we’re going to be fulfilled long-term.

So to identify work that they didn’t regret, my clients tapped into their emotional and somatic intelligence, both of which offered incredible information about what they loved and what was most important to them.

Emotional intelligence draws on the information contained in our feelings.  Somatic intelligence comes from our body; it’s sometimes called intuition or “gut feeling.”  When my clients learned to listen to these sources of wisdom, they discovered what they most deeply wanted, what was meaningful to them, and what would truly fulfill them long-term.

To apply this to your own life, you can start to notice how different options and possibilities make you feel.  What emotions do they bring up?  What body sensations?  Which options bring up the most positive sensations?

Doing so can help you make decisions aligned with who you really are, which is the best way to avoid regret down the line.

They explored.

We test drive cars before we buy them, but often not careers.  Why?  We spend far more time in our career than we do in our car (assuming you’re neither a truck nor taxi driver).

My clients all went through a thorough process of identifying what was most important to them in their work—from location, pay, and environment to job responsibilities, impact, and people.

They then brainstormed ideas for jobs that included these elements.  Armed with a list of exciting possibilities, they became explorers: They tried out different routes to see which ones worked best for them.

They researched.  They did informational interviews.  They shadowed people.  They volunteered.  They did everything they could to get a crystal-clear picture of what a particular job would look like, sound like, and feel like day-in and day-out.

Then they checked in with their various intelligence centers—head, heart, and body—and noticed their response.  In this way, they got a clear read from their highly accurate, state-of-the-art internal GPS system about which path was the best, not just in theory, but in reality as well.

They followed their fear.

Yes, that’s right.  I know that our programmed response to fear is to freeze or run in the opposite direction.  And that’s okay.  If a giant, man-eating bird is trying to hunt us, that’s probably a pretty good response.

But if we really want to find our calling, we need to learn to follow fear.

We only fear a path when it contains something important to us, when we care, when we really, really want it to work.  Those are all great signs that a route is a good one for us.

So, the next time you feel afraid, stroll right up to your fear, introduce yourself, and shake its hand.  Let it know you’re pleased to see it—it means you’re on the right path.  Then march right along past it and continue in the same direction.

As Stephen Pressfield says, “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

All of my clients took paths that led them, in one way or another, directly into the heart of their fear.

The path to work you love may not be a direct one.  Sometimes you have to try things out, learn, or even fail; sometimes you have to start one thing to open the door to something else.  But if you use your internal GPS when making decisions, each step you take will bring you closer to what you ultimately want, and each step will bring you lots of joy along the way.

Over to You

What do you make of this?  What’s helped you make changes you’ve been happy with in the past?  Do these point to any action steps you’d like to take?

Your ideas may help others.  Please leave a reply in the comments below.

Make Your Career Change a Happy One

If you’re not sure how to tap into your full intelligence, or if you’ve had trouble exploring or following your fears on your own, click here to request a free clarity session.  Sometimes all we need is a little guidance, support, and structure to be able to do things we couldn’t before.

Photo credit: ** RCB ** / Foter / CC BY