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When Friends and Family Don’t Want You To Change

How to deflect doubts, fears and criticisms about your new career plan

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by Kara Baskin

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You’re excited about your new career, but your colleagues, family and friends aren’t so pumped. In fact, they’re shocked. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? Are you prepared for the risk? What about—gasp!—security? Kerry Hannon, author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, explains how to fend off the questions and stay true to your dreams.

For more great career advice from Kerry Hannon, try Life Reimagined’s Refresh Your Outlook program.

Step 1: Empathize. Understand where the questions are coming from. “People make comments like that either because they’re a little envious and afraid to take a risk, or because they’re genuinely concerned,” Hannon says. 

     See also: How to Shrug Off Negative Comments

Step 2: Manage your message. Hannon suggests playing your switch-up close to the vest until you’re ready to make a move. There’s no need to invite chatter prematurely. “Don’t start talking about your plans two years ahead of time. You don’t know it will play out,” she says. Instead, strategically announce your news in a group email and on social media as you’re about to make the leap. 

Step 3: Realize that not everyone will share your excitement. “It’s important to have family or close friends at your back, but not everyone is going to own your dream,” Hannon says. That’s OK. 

Step 4: Choose your words. If questioned by someone who’s genuinely alarmed—maybe they’re afraid of the financial repercussions or that you’ll fail— reframe the move in a way they can understand. “Explain that it’s not so scary. You’re not reinventing yourself completely, you’re ‘redeploying,’” Hannon says. 

Step 5: Rush to reassure. Particularly with family members who might fret about your finances, such as grown children, be upfront about your numbers. “Convince them it’s not that big a risk for you. Map it out. Show how you’ve done your homework, by saving appropriately, downsizing, or moonlighting at the new job on weekends so you know what you’re getting into.” 

     See also:  What To Do When You Question Yourself

Step 6: Bring them on board. If someone raises a red flag, disarm them by asking for advice about your next step. “This will make them feel like they own a little bit of your dream. People love giving advice. Empower them to feel like part of your journey,” she says.

Step 7: Share your knowledge. “In situations like this, people often want to live vicariously,” Hannon says. Send articles and links about topics relating to your new endeavor to help people understand what you’re up to. 

Step 8: Use the announcement to boost your profile. When you do publicize your shift, make sure to notify former colleagues, potential networking opportunities, and your alumni associations and include a link to your new company or website—sharing the news just might bolster your business. 

Photo Credit: David Vintiner/Getty