Career Fear: Breaking Free

Buddhist philosophy.                  

Some people smirk at it; more and more people are embracing it.

Can it teach us anything about work and career?

I think so.

Do you ever feel uncertain about where your career is going or where it has been? Do you ever question whether you are on the right path? Do you ever feel discouraged about your work?

Most of us feel this way at one point or another. Sometimes we feel this way quite often.

It is uncomfortable. It can be scary. It is a feeling of uneasiness.

In the Buddha’s first teaching he talked about what he called ‘the four noble truths’.

The first noble truth says that it’s part of being human to feel discomfort.


Nothing in life is really one way or another. Whether we like it or not, life is not black or white.

Everything around us; the wind, the fire, the earth, the water are always changing; like magicians. Let’s face it, nothing stays the same.

Inside of us also changes just like the weather, like the waxing and waning of the moon.

It is so hard for us to see that just like the weather, we are fluid, not solid. We change, just like everything else does.

We have a tendency to seek out what feels secure, to look for comfort and avoid discomfort. We want our lives to be solid. So we try to build a cocoon of safety around us.

It feels good to have our lives be safe and predictable. Unfortunately our cocoons often fall apart (because things always change). And then we feel uncomfortable again.

We often fall into this cycle with our careers. We get settled into a role and it seems good for a while. Then our personal goals change, and we scramble again to build another safe cocoon.

The new zone of safety feels good until oh…let’s say we get a new boss who is a tyrant…or our family moves to another town and the commute is now tripled…or we have children…or the company changes its direction and it has no meaning for us anymore…and on and on.

It’s natural for everything to change. It’s the process of life.

But we don’t like it to change. We want things to stay the same. We want to be secure.

We become fearful. We resist the changes. We wish it were easier to find what we want – at least what we want right now.

And because of this, we suffer. We fret. We become uncomfortable. We resist the process of uncovering the next step in our career.

How can Buddhist philosophy help?  By listening to what it teaches with an open mind and heart, it can give us guidance in approaching our career journeys in a different way… it can open us to a new way of seeing things.

It takes time, sometimes months, years, a lifetime (or more)… yet isn’t it worth it to ease our suffering on this journey?

Here are some very simple ways to begin:

  • Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes each day to stop, to breathe and let go of the rush to achieve your daily goals. Focus only on the process of breathing for these 15 minutes. Get distracted? (you will) … it’s okay- just come back to breathing. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts. They, too, will pass. Observe them, and let them go.

If you find yourself in that mind trap of thinking obsessively that things are not going your way or that it’s too hard to find a career path that feels right, etc.  Stop and observe your thoughts. Say “hey – here come those crazy thoughts again and they are trying to swing me around. I’ll just watch them leave with the wind.”

  • Recognize that everything will always change, and that all of life is fluid – including us. It’s okay. Have faith that you will find your path (in fact, you are already on it).
  • Cultivate an unconditional friendliness towards yourself – flaws and all. Did you say something that sounded mean? Did you flub an interview? Were you rude to someone?  It’s okay. Mistakes are part of living. They help us grow and become more aware.
  • Begin your day with a sense of gentleness – for yourself and others. Compassion can replace fear and anxiety. Welcome compassion for yourself and others. People will be drawn to you. Some of those people will help guide you to your “right path”. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day – you will get there.


Can you share ways that you ease your discomfort during a job search or career transition?


4 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Terry Del Percio, Terry Del Percio. Terry Del Percio said: Career Fear: Breaking Free : […]

  2. Fantastic post, Terry. Thank you so much for this. It has great meaning for me!

  3. Thank you for this post, Terry – your calming voice comes through completely. This is one worth re-visiting again and again, as we all need these “refreshers.” Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: