The 3 most common excuses for not leaving your job

The 3 most common excuses for not leaving your job

Most clients who come to me for career coaching want one thing: to change their current career for something where they can either use their talents better, or which has more meaning to them.

We go through a process of self-discovery and then something peculiar happens...

As soon as a client discovers what it is they really want to be doing, they suddenly find ways to avoid it! They find ways to not bite the bullet!

They might say that now is not the right time. Maybe next year. Maybe their current job is actually not so bad, and so on.

Creating excuses

So what happened? Their brain started to protest as it saw a big change coming up, creating all possible excuses why they should stay where they are.

It is important to make a distinction between an excuse and an obstacle. So what is the difference?

I define an excuse as a conscious or subconscious thought that puts a hold to your actions. You treat it as a legitimate reason to stop working on your goals.

So you say to yourself "I do not have time to change my career" and before even evaluating if the statement is true, you give up on the idea to change or develop your career further.

Overcoming career obstacles

An obstacle, on the other hand, is something that you can - and are - willing to deal with.

Time and money can also be obstacles, but the difference is that you do not lose sight of your main goal.

You say to yourself "ok, so I don’t have enough money just yet to start new studies, what can I do in order to save enough to be able to realise my goal?"

Do you see the difference? The difference is not in the problem itself. The problem remains the same, but what is fundamentally different is your attitude towards the problem.

The 3 most common excuses to avoid change

Below you will find a list of the three most common excuses you will probably create once you are confronted with the possibility of a career change. And I don’t stop there - there's a remedy for every excuse!

Remember that these are only excuses in your head, they are not the reality. But they can, and will, become reality if you do not deal with them properly.

Excuse #1: I don’t have time to change my career

Busy. Busy. Busy. We are all busy. Running around in circles. I hear it often from my clients: I do not have time. I have so many things to do.

But often when we start looking deeper into the issue it turns out that there is plenty of time. If you get your priorities right and look critically into how you spend your time, you can easily get up to two or three hours per day to spend on your career change or development.


The best idea is to track your activities for a week. Take a notebook and write down all the things that you do during the day, including the timing.

After having a critical look at how you spend your time, you might find out that you spend up to two hours per day on things like Facebook, email, internet, TV, Netflix etc.

Of course we all need our relaxing time, but ask yourself if you really can't free up one or two hours a day to focus on something you deeply care about: your professional life development! Choose your priorities and choose them right!

Excuse #2: What will my parents / partner / children / anyone else say about my change?

Getting the right support and encouragement from others is one of the most crucial elements to your success when changing career or anything else in your life.

One of our basic needs, according to a known American psychologist Abraham Maslow, is the need for love, acceptance and belonging. We need others not only to survive, but also to live a happy and fulfilled life.

That is why one of our primary fears is the fear of not being accepted. We do crazy things in order to be accepted. We often change our opinion to please others, or are paralysed if we have to give a 10-minute public speech.

No wonder we are worried about what those closest to us will say about a career change.

It is also important to me what my husband thinks about my new business projects and I do often consult him. So don't get me wrong, you surely need to talk with your partner about your career plans.

However there are also situations in which we take the opinions of others much more seriously than we do our own. And this is the point where it can go wrong.


First you need to identify whose approval you are actually seeking. Is it the approval of your partner? Or is it the approval of your parents, sister, brother or best friend?

Sometimes I even hear from my clients that they feel it is "society" who does not grant them the approval to move forward.

So there you go. If this excuse is the one that you keep telling yourself, take a moment now to think whose opinion you fear the most.

Fill in the following sentences:
 I fear the opinion of my ________________
 I am afraid that my ________________ will not approve of my new career plans.

You actually do not know for sure if the disapproval is real unless you have heard it directly from the given person. If your partner’s opinion is the one you are most worried about, then you need to talk to your partner first.

If you fear the opinion of your parents or friend, you need to realise that you are an adult person and ask yourself whether you want to live a life fulfilling the expectations of others, or to make your own choices.

Excuse #3: What if I fail?

This is one of the most common reasons why many people get stuck for years, sometimes for a lifetime. What if I fail? And even worse: what if others see that I have failed?

This excuse is based on the fear that by changing we are going to make a huge, irreversible mistake.

So where is this fear coming from? It comes from that fact that we were taught that mistakes are wrong and should be avoided at all times. Mistakes are bad, dangerous and should be punished.

But what if we start perceiving mistakes as a part of the game and see them as learning opportunities rather than mistakes?

When I started my coaching business, one of the first assignments I received was a workshop for a well-known multinational company. I was extremely stressed, plus it was the first time in my life that I was going to run a workshop for a big group.

The workshop was a disaster. I was not prepared to deal with such a big group. Afterwards I wanted to run away and hide and never run a workshop again. I felt deeply ashamed and disappointed.

Some months later, I was asked to give another workshop. I said yes. Thanks to the experience I had with the previous one, I knew how to prepare. It went much better. The more workshops I gave, the better I became.

Although the first workshop was quite painful it was my biggest learning lesson, for which now I am very grateful.


So if you are suffering from the fear of failure, think of what you can learn about yourself when you fail. Look fear straight in the eyes and answer the following questions:

 What is the best thing that could happen if I change / develop my career?

 What is the worst thing that could happen if I change / develop my career?

 What would I learn from it?

 What is the most probable thing that will happen?

Understand your own excuses

There are many more excuses that you could come up with during your change process. We are very creative creatures!

My best advice is to first become aware that an excuse is a desperate cry from your brain to keep you where you are. Then you must work to understand where the excuse comes from, and, most importantly, how can you deal with it.

What kind of excuses have you found yourself making to avoid a daunting career change? Did you overcome them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.


Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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