5 Ways Your Brain Might Be Keeping You Stuck in Your Career

People looking for career change tips to overcome procrastination in making a career transition can face any number of challenges that are likely self-imposed. Whether seeking advice or information, scouring through career change articles, blogs and websites, despite the best-laid plans, motivation may be hard to find. The truth is, we all have experienced procrastination in our lives. From avoiding difficult tasks to being easily distracted, at times it’s as though our brains have an internal battle going on between taking action or putting it off. Yet, when it comes to pursuing a career change, why do people procrastinate? If you’re stuck in a career, it just may be that your brain is holding you back without realizing it. Here are 5 potential ways your brain is keeping you stuck in your career and what to do about it. 


Many people remain stuck in their jobs because they are fearful or insecure about making a change. For some, that fear and insecurity may stem from a lack of self-confidence. For others, they may make an effort to move forward, apply for a number of jobs of interest, but, because there are no callbacks or progress is too slow, a perception of being rejected can lead to insecurity. When insecurity strikes, people often retreat to what’s familiar—even if it is a career environment that they do not like. Insecurity can become a roadblock in pursuing a career change. Before settling for what you have, analyze what may be holding you back and write it down. Then make a list of your attributes, skill sets, the challenges you’ve overcome, and so forth. Consider career change counseling for guidance and learn how to leverage the skills you have to gain confidence in your abilities. 

Deep-Seated Bias

We all hold certain biases, but when your brain is anchored to one, especially one that may influence career choices, it can set you back and keep you stuck. An anchoring bias is a cognitive bias that affects and influences decision-making. If you are disproportionately anchored to or rely on a particular viewpoint simply based on the first bit of information you received or learned about something, it can adversely affect how you interpret information about it later on. For example, you may have an interest in a new field but a coworker authoritatively explains the difficulties of anyone entering that field is too immense. That information may have been correct ten years before but has no present bearing on today’s market or your ambitions. It may be that attrition or increased demand has opened the field up. When looking into a new career, seek to gather a wide range of information from many sources and rely on facts. Experiences and opinions count but don’t make up your mind based on the first thing you hear. 

Confirmation Bias

Another type of cognitive bias that affects decision-making is the one that confirms our beliefs. Confirmation bias is our tendency to seek out, notice, and interpret new evidence or information that confirms our current reality, theories or prior beliefs. If you are thinking that a particular career path may be too risky, confirmation bias may lead you to only ask questions about that new career path which confirms the risks you associate with it. In effect, creating an echo chamber. One good way to avoid confirmation bias is to first gather information about the career of interest from a variety of sources, then make inquiries and ask questions. Compare the data you gather with the original information you held and chances are you’ll be able to form a more objective decision about that career. 

Career Changes Are Too Hard

Convincing yourself that it is simply too hard to start over is another way your brain may be keeping you from a career change. Feeling that the entire transition in total—the time, energy and stress required to make the change combined with the years invested in the career to date—are just not worth starting over. In these situations, it’s best to keep the big picture in mind and start moving forward from where you are. Though career transitions may bring a degree of discomfort, weighing your options with career change counseling may convince you that the ROI on your transition may well result in significant career advancement and fulfillment.


Feeling that you are too old to make a career change is another way your brain is keeping you stuck in your career. For many, after 15 or 20 years into a career, the thought of change may seem daunting or unrealistic, especially if you’re approaching or past 50. Despite feeling stuck, you may have convinced yourself that you may advance further if you give a few more years so you’ll wait it out. After all, there are responsibilities—paying bills, supporting a family—and what if the career move lands you in a worse situation? Consider, however, at 50, valuing your time over money should be a priority. Midlife career changes are not uncommon in this day and age. Leveraging your past work and life experiences will in all likelihood land you with a comparable income. 

Career Change Counseling Can Help

Career change counseling can help you decide and make the right choices, ones that dovetail with your current life situation. At Core Themes we’ve designed a comprehensive, in-depth methodology to help you find clarity and understanding so you can make informed and intentional decisions about your new career direction. Our professional career counselors take you deep below the surface and guide you past the clutter so that you can accomplish your true potential! Contact us today for a free consultation!