What’s holding you back from learning new skills that will improve your career?

Here they come — the scariest monsters you can imagine, even though it’s Halloween time and there’s plenty of them around. But the ones which can stop you from learning and developing your skills are truly frightening.

But you don’t have to hold yourself back any longer. Learn to crush these common fears so you can gain the skills you need to move into a new position or a new field now. We invite you to challenge yourself and try to beat ’em all.

1. The Impostor Monster ‘Imponster’ is out to get you

You may have heard of impostor syndrome, where perfectly qualified people worry that they are not really qualified — and that someone is going to find out they are a fraud. It can be highly uncomfortable to feel this way in your daily work. But when you add in the pressure of trying for a promotion or pursuing further education in order to get a better job, that feeling that you’re not good enough can be absolutely crippling.

What will you do?

  • Create a list of your accomplishments.
  • Gather your recommendations and accolades from co-workers or clients. For example, you may already have a section devoted to endorsements and recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. If so, review it when you’re feeling unqualified.
  • Go through previous work evaluations to get a solid view of your strengths and weaknesses. You don’t want to try to pretend you have no areas for improvement — that type of denial will feed your impostor syndrome.

2. Wild Gluttimey appeared

Education can be time-consuming, and it may take financial resources away from other parts of your life. But the potential rewards should make this investment of time and money worth it.

Choose your attack

If time is the issue, see where you can carve out some chunks of time.

  • Try keeping track of where you spend your time for a week to see where you might be wasting time or participating in activities that you can temporarily stop to help fit in your education.
  • Can you hire someone to clean your house or apartment so you can take that task off your to-do list? Is it possible to use shopping apps or the personal shopping services that some stores offer to save time on grocery shopping?
  • Will your work offer flex time or comp time for your education?
  • Can you estimate how much study time you’ll need for a course? If you do that, you can block out time for it in your schedule and try to make it fit. For example, Practicum programs are designed to take 20 hours per week as you build a portfolio while teaching you to be a data analyst, data scientist, or web developer.

If you’re concerned about money, look for some money-saving opportunities.

  • Does your employer offer tuition assistance or professional development funding?
  • Can you cut other expenses temporarily to help pay for course fees?
  • Can you find lower-cost or free opportunities to learn?

3. Oh no, you’ve encountered an Outspider!

When you take steps to learn new skills and possibly move into a new line of work, you may be worried that you won’t fit in with a new group of people. Or that your old group of co-workers and friends might not be comfortable with you once you start making changes. And it’s possible that you’ll end up in a situation that isn’t as immediately comfortable as your current work situation. On the other hand, it may end up being even better.

Prepare to use your superpowers:

  • Shadow someone who does the type of work you’re interested in studying. This can help see not only if you might enjoy the work itself but also the potential work environment.
  • If you don’t have the time or resources to shadow someone, see if you can arrange a Zoom meeting with someone doing that type of work, or take a tour of a department. This won’t give you the same in-depth experience as a full day of shadowing, but it will give you some sense of whether you will feel at home.
  • Learn more about the job search process. For example, the Practicum Career Track will take you through all the stages of looking for a job, preparing all of the necessary documents, and practicing HR and technical interviews. The program is based on how job searches work in the U.S., but the material is universal and will be useful for students from any part of the world.

4. Failympus blocks your way

It can be scary to take on a task you’re not sure you’ll excel at, but it’s simply not reasonable to think that you shouldn’t do anything you might not be immediately good at. If no one took initiative to try something new — at which they might fail at first — we’d still be living in caves using simple tools to supply our daily needs. No risk, no reward.

Choose your weapon:

  • Research high-profile failures from successful people. These stories can help reassure you that failure is okay, and in fact, a necessary step towards personal and career growth.
  • Make a list of the ways you could fail and how you would react if they happened. This will prepare you for this possibility — and it is likely that you imagine situations that are much worse than what might actually happen.
  • Think about times you’ve failed in your life and see how you reacted, what lessons you learned, and how you moved forward. This activity will show you how resilient you really are and give you the confidence to try something new.
  • Connect with your peers. At Practicum, students use a Slack chat to discuss their ups and downs and find support from other students, tutors, and mentors. Not only does this help you see that you’re not alone in your fears — and get support so you can move past them — this type of collaboration mimics the work you’ll experience in many technical fields.

5. A very strong-looking Doubtmare is approaching you

Most educational programs offer no guarantees on your investment. It’s possible that your time and money won’t result in the desired benefits as quickly as you’d like. And that can make it scary to pursue further education, especially if you’re looking to use that education to move into a new field or discipline. But any education is likely to provide long-term benefits, even if you end up staying in the same field rather than branching out into the area you’re studying.

Prepare for the fight:

  • Start small. Pick one or two skills and study those first. Then you can move on to further education. This can ensure that you don’t spend too much time on education and it will keep you moving forward in a systematic way.
  • Research what you really need to learn. If you’re already in a professional situation, you may not need to take on a full-time college education right now. You can create a series of courses from a variety of sources to ensure that you learn the skills you need without having to spend time on unnecessary courses just to check off some arbitrary graduation requirements.
  • Test it out first. If you can find a free introductory course in the field you’d like to study, take it so you can get familiar with the basics and see if the topic is something you really want to pursue. Practicum offers free 20-hour introductory courses in each of the three professions so you can start right now.

Moving Forward

As you explore further education, see which obstacles keep coming up and use these strategies to address them. Are you concerned about your own aptitude? Is it a resource problem? Are you worried that you won’t succeed?

Once you know where your fears are coming from and create a plan to address them, you’ll see they aren’t so scary after all.

Here at Practicum, we understand these monsters that prevent you from seeking further education. And we’re here to help you move past them.
Find out more about how we support you on your learning journey.

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