Who is more likely to change careers; a man or a woman? Do women and men take different approaches to career change?

If you think you know the answer to either question, chances are you would be wrong. As it turns out, both men and women are equally likely to change careers and both men and women take relatively similar approaches.

What I could say is that men are slightly more likely than women to pursue an entrepreneurial career change, however, even in that case, women are quickly catching up with the men.

Here is what years of counseling others have taught me; in life, there are leaders and then there are followers; there are risk takers and there are risk averters. These patterns transcend gender, and go to the question of what type of personality is more apt to change. Therefore, it is very possible that a 52 year-old housewife living in Cleveland may be more apt to change than a 23 year-old man working for a movie studio in Los Angeles.

Drivers and leaders

Based on the behavioral preferences I write about in “Designing Your Ideal Life,” we do know that those of you who are “Drivers” or “Leaders” will be more willing to change as will those of you are highly motivated by helping others or solving their problems by being driven marketers or salespeople.

We also know that some people may be afraid of any type of change as a function of feeling they have too much to lose or have too many responsibilities. Are these “bad” people? Absolutely not! I am the last person to judge another person’s situation. Those afraid of change are usually behavioral types who want to maintain their status in life or are perfectionists.

Broadly speaking, does the breakdown between those types wanting to change their lives versus those adverse to change work on an equal basis?

Surprisingly, no. The breakdown is approximately 29 percent of the population are willing to lead, motivate or drive changes in themselves and in others, while a whopping 71 percent want things to pretty much stay the way they are. Of that 29 percent I just mentioned, it is pretty equally divided among men and women.

What about those sitting on the fence? We must recognize the difference between those people who are absolutely, 100 percent committed to “sitting on their couches” until retirement (whatever that retirement may be!) and those people who are crippled by fear (even though they are very tired of the couch).

In going through the exercises in my book, those crippled by fear may very well be able to put a plan in place to help them go forward. A person who is absolutely content will find no exercise or any motivation to change. By the way, this isn’t necessarily a skill-level or educational situation.

For example, I knew a highly-educated man who was the CEO of a small nonprofit board who – for 30 years – knew he needed a change, but he was afraid to change. He was paid fairly well, but for 30 years he was not challenged. He had interests but never developed them. He retired from that boring job about two years ago. He putters about his house these days and I suppose he’s “content.”

On the other hand, I know a woman who has a passion for cooking. She barely made it through community college, but had the drive and energy to start her own business. She now has a company that gives chefs continuing education credits, she volunteers at a local pet shelter, and she is also a water aerobics instructor on the side!

The bottom line is that we should never define ourselves or limit our vision. Male or Female, we are all capable of transforming ourselves providing we have the ambition.

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