Your Green Career Path: Are You Getting in Your Own Way?

On a recent survey, I asked what obstacles job seekers are experiencing in their search for a green career.

I wasn’t surprised to see responses centered around these themes:

  • Not enough green job openings in my local area.

  • Not sure how to translate my skills into a green career.

  • Lack of experience.

  • Figuring out how to manage the transition to a new career from a financial standpoint.

Other people were able to give a specific reason they weren’t making the progress they wanted.

  • Not enough time.

  • Feeling discouraged.

  • Being unfocused.

  • Feeling unmotivated.

Another group of people listed themselves as their key obstacle.

Are You Getting in Your Own Way?

Over the last two decades I’ve helped many people change careers. By witnessing their journeys over the years I’ve learned that career changers experience certain blocks that impact their ability to move forward toward their goal.

Figuring Out Your Green Career Goal

Not sure what your passions are? Knowing what you are passionate about is a key component to clarifying your future career goal. The first step to identifying what you love is recognizing how you feel inside when you run across a topic you are passionate about. It’s the feeling inside that will alert you to the skills, interests, activities, and even jobs that suit you. I call this your Heart Magnet.

No clear vision for your green career goal? If you are attempting to find a job or research potential green careers, but you don’t have a clear vision of your goal, you are most likely going to feel overwhelmed, confused, and anxious about your path. The green economy is just too broad and far reaching to be able to happen across the career that’s going to work for you. Instead, develop your Heart Magnet and use that tool to narrow your focus onto one to three industries that engage you. With this intention you’ll be able to use your time more wisely.

Too many choices to choose from? If you have a variety of interests, you may find it hard to figure out which topic to focus on. First, take note, you don’t have to narrow your sights to just one interest! Instead look at how you can combine your interests and skills in unique ways. Often your personal constellation of passions makes you a unique candidate for positions you are interested in.

Working with Your Response to the Unknowns of Your Future

Moving from one career to another is bound to trigger an emotional response. Often people don’t expect this reaction. They are excited about the idea of their new career, but to reach their destination they must face the unknown elements of their future.

Over-analyzing your options? Do you find yourself going over and over your options without making a conclusion or decision? Thinking it through is your way of ensuring you are making the “right” choice. Most often you’ve had success using this strategy in the past, but in this circumstance it’s likely you don’t have enough information to make a final decision. Your best strategy at this point is to think of your choice as a hypothesis that you can test. If you have a couple of ideas that are intriguing you, begin to explore each option until you have enough information to make a decision. If you still can’t decide, consider ways you can combine your ideas.

Worried you can’t achieve your dreams? By stepping into the unknown, you are entering new territory. When you don’t know what to do, how to act, or what it will take to succeed, it’s natural to experience increased levels of self-doubt. If you have low self-esteem, you may find your self-doubt almost paralyzes you, because you don’t know if you’ll be able to succeed in changing careers. It’s hard to take action when you are continually second guessing whether it’s worth making the effort. I’d recommend focusing some time on getting to the bottom of what’s contributing to your self-esteem. Reading books, working with a coach, or talking to a trusted friend may be helpful to you in rewriting how you see yourself. In addition, start taking new actions in circumstances where you are likely to succeed. Start with small actions and build up to steps you’ll take to get your new career. You can also look for training opportunities and volunteer activities to strengthen the skills you’ll need to succeed. As you gain confidence in your abilities, it’s likely you’ll be able to move forward toward your goal.

Procrastinating? If you have an idea you’ve decided to pursue, but you can’t seem to make any progress, you may find yourself with a major case of procrastination. Often people think procrastination means they are weak, lazy, or undisciplined. I have a different take on the subject of procrastination. What I’ve seen is that when procrastination is in the picture, it’s likely something about your intended goal isn’t working for you. Although you may not be aware of it, a part of you is holding back from acting on your goal. Take a step back to see how you feel about your goal. Evaluate what part of your vision feels right and what isn’t sitting well with you. See if you can redefine your goal in a way that will make it align with your needs. After this realignment you will most likely feel a burst of energy and a willingness to take actions toward your goal.

No matter how you look at it, finding your green career is a process. Each step of your journey will give you new insights about yourself. Taking an active role in managing your own personal experience is just as important as making steps to identify your green career and land your green job.

About the Author: Green Career Expert Carol McClelland, PhD, is the author of Green Careers For Dummies and founder and executive director of Green Career Central, a membership website with easy-to-use programs and effective targeted information to help you identify your green niche, find a green job, start a green business or get a green education. Visit to request our free report – “Six Strategies to Find Your Green Career”

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