The 4 Barriers to Change

The 4 Barriers to Change 1

When you want to make a change in your career but you’re struggling to make headway, it’s helpful to understand what could be holding you back. 

There are various reasons why your actions may not align with your intent, and if you can identify the key reason for maintaining the status quo then you’ll be better placed to change it. 

In this article I will take you through the 4 Barriers you can unlock to make meaningful change happen. 


Many people look at career change as a single step. You may have stayed in a role for long enough and want something different, or a new opportunity may suddenly present which seems like a great step to take. 

But some people look at their career as a long-term journey that consists of a series of considered steps. 

These people link their professional lives to an underlying identity which they seek to channel or realise over time. 

With career coaching, I call this term your “Long Game”. 

When you define success around an identity, you will increase the likelihood of sustaining behaviours that represent the underlying identity (and also enjoy the results from those behaviours!). 

You don’t need to have a Long Game to advance in your career, especially if you’re towards the start of your career and you’re still figuring out where it may go. 

But if you can determine your professional identity, this one decision will take care of many other decisions to come. 


The next level down from an identity is having a clear goal. 

Even though lots of people are familiar with goal setting, we unfortunately don’t do a great job at setting effective goals. 

The key to an effective goal is that if you were to share the goal with someone else, they would know how to help you. This is because if someone can help you with your goal, it also means you’re clear with yourself on what you want. 

For example, “getting a new job” isn’t a great goal, because if you share this with someone they won’t really know how to help you.

But if you said, “I want to do the same thing I’m doing now but somewhere else”, it’s far more likely that targeted action can be taken by yourself and others in order to achieve it. 

So if you think you know what you want but change isn’t happening, it could help to stress-test your thinking with someone. 


If you’re clear on what you want, there’s still a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

To close this gap, it helps to create a system around you of consistent action. 

Let’s say for example that you know exactly what job you want. 

To get this job, you’ll need to keep applying for job ads. You don’t know how many ads you’ll need to apply for to be successful, but the more you apply for, the better your chances will be. 

So when you set yourself a goal to get a new job, an effective system may be “apply for 5 job ads per week”. 

This simple benchmark will be a clear reference point for making change happen. It takes away the excuse of “life getting in the way” and helps you appreciate how effectively you’re applying yourself. 

Immediate Action

Finally, you may have a clear identity, an effective goal and a great system figured out. 

But this will all be for nothing if you don’t activate it. 

We can hold off on taking action because the journey ahead feels daunting. 

Though after people take the first step, they realise it’s not as daunting as first thought and feel better about taking the next step. 

So in order to make change happen, it’s critical that you take immediate action. What is the one thing you can do right now that will start things moving? 

Can you finish your resume?

Can you submit your first application?

Can you schedule a meeting with someone that will help you? 

And one final point on removing this barrier to change – thinking is not a valid action. 

If you know what you want for your career, then you must go beyond yourself and make something happen. 

What Barrier is holding you back?

Now that you know the 4 Barriers to change, which one do you think is impacting you the most?

  1. My Identity – What’s my Long Game / Professional Identity?
  2. My Goal – Am I clear on what I want?
  3. My System – What can I do consistently to make sustainable progress?
  4. My Immediate Action – What is one thing I can do right now to make change happen?

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