Is fear holding you back from your dream career?

Imagine you have discovered the career of your dreams. But before you can apply for it, someone tells you: “You won’t go after your dream career. It’s too risky. You might fail. Besides, you can’t afford to go after it. You don’t have the right education. You’re the wrong age. You’re not talented enough. And secretly you know you don’t deserve it.”

Chances are no one you know is going to say such terrible things to you. Unfortunately, the comments above are exactly the types of negative things many job seekers tell themselves.

Here are some of the most common beliefs we’ve found that can keep people from going after the career of their dreams:

  • I’m Lacking Something.
  • I don’t have enough money to pursue my dream career.
  • I don’t have the right skills.
  • I don’t have the proper education.
  • I don’t know the right people.
  • I’m too young.
  • I’m too old.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not in good enough shape.
  • I’m not outgoing enough.
  • I’m too lazy.
  • I don’t deserve it.
  • I’m Afraid I Will Fail.
  • I might choose the wrong career.
  • There’s too much competition.
  • If I get an interview I’ll say or do something to mess it up.
  • I usually get rejected.
  • If I don’t succeed I will look foolish.
  • I won’t be able to handle it if I don’t succeed.
  • It will take too long to make it.
  • I might succeed.
  • If I get the job, someone else who needs it more than me won’t get it.
  • I might not be good at it.
  • Even if a job seems great at the start, it will probably turn out to be something I don’t like.
  • If I succeed people will be jealous of me.
  • If I get my dream job, people will expect more of me.
  • If I settle on one career, I won’t be able to do something else I might enjoy more.


A belief alone usually isn’t enough to stop us. You may believe it’s dangerous to jump out of an airplane, and go skydiving anyway. But when we let our beliefs influence our behavior, it definitely can hold us back from what we want.

For example, if Jane believes there is a shortage of good jobs, that belief can affect the way she behaves when she goes on a job interview. She may be so afraid of saying the wrong thing that instead of being honest, she says what she thinks the employer wants to hear. She might shake hands less firmly, make less eye contact, keep her head down, and speak more softly.

Unfortunately, appearing too timid and agreeable is a turn-off to many employers. The result? It could cost her dream jobs that she might otherwise be perfect for.

In this case a job-hunter’s belief (there’s a shortage of good jobs) has a direct influence on her behavior (displaying less confident body language and saying what she thinks the employer wants to hear). Her behavior then has a direct influence on the result (not getting the job).

But it doesn’t end there. When she doesn’t get the job she wants, her belief is likely to be reinforced. (“I knew it. There’s a shortage of good jobs. Why should they choose me when there are so many other people to choose from? I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make them like me better next time.”)