“Why Should I Try When I'm Sure I'll Fail?”

Karen feels like a hermit on a treadmill, trapped in a career with only spreadsheets for company. She's got a good idea about the leap she wants to make, but it seems impossible. So, how do you shift when it feels too big and scary to even try?

What's your career history and current job?

I help freelancers and small business owners manage their finances. I'm part accountant, part financial advisor, and part business consultant.

I got my accounting qualifications in my early 20s, and started out working for an accountancy firm, where I stayed for 12 years. After that, I'd had enough, and set up on my own.

How do you feel about your work?

I feel lonely, boring, and unchallenged.

I've been doing this for so long, I've fallen into a trap of routine, and I'm probably over-comfortable. I've got a set-up that everyone seems to envy: I work from home, I choose my own hours, my own clients, and I earn a reasonable living.

But I feel like a hermit on a treadmill: always at home, always staring at spreadsheets, always tapping away on my calculator…

There's so much more to life than what I do, and yet it's become all I do.

What would you like to be doing instead?

Two years ago, I had a client who was a freelance consultant in organisational change management.

We got on really well, and I worked with her for a year or so before she moved to New Zealand and found another accountant.

I've not been able to stop thinking about what she does ever since.

She worked with non-profit organisations and charities to help them navigate periods of major adjustment – from disaster response programmes to the recruitment and settling-in period of a new CEO.

It sounded fascinating, and I've done a lot of reading about the subject over the past six months. I'm always excited to find out more about it, and I'm pretty sure that my logical mind, level head and problem-solving skills would be great in that environment.

I think that's what I want to do.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

This feels like such a huge leap.

Little old accountant me, who works in her pyjamas from her living room, showing up for an interview in organisational change management?

It just makes no sense. I want to believe anyone can do anything, but this just feels ridiculous. Admitting it out loud feels like I'm setting myself up to be laughed at.

When I've got a big accounting job or a project, I take it little step by little step. But this… it feels like there are no little steps to take. It's a huge undertaking that has no guarantees and enormous risks. I want to be happy at work, and I'm fairly sure that this could be the move I've been dreaming of, but I'm terrified to even try.

If I apply for a change management job and get turned down, it'll just confirm all my fears that this is an impossible dream, and I know I'll give up.

So I don't do anything, and then I get frustrated that nothing has changed, but I only have myself to blame.

What's the point in trying when it feels inevitable that I'll get knocked back?

Can you help Karen?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Karen could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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