In today’s rapidly changing world, being willing to adapt and learn new skills is crucial for success. But the process can be overwhelming, whether learning new skills for a new in-demand job or improving existing skills to advance in your current career. Luckily, you aren’t alone in this feeling. 

When faced with the overwhelming prospect of training to learn new skills, it helps to understand the differences between some terms you will hear. It will also be beneficial to know how to recognize some of the warning signs that you may be overwhelmed and some techniques you can use to make the process smoother.

Table of Contents

What are reskilling and upskilling?

How to recognize the signs of being overwhelmed?

What strategies can you use to overcome being overwhelmed?

How Pathstream can support you?

Reskilling and Upskilling

When learning new techniques related to employment, you may hear the terms reskilling and upskilling tossed around.

Reskilling and upskilling are both processes that may be necessary if your job isn’t static. Whether staying in the same field or exploring a different one, employer expectations can shift as technology, and industry approaches evolve.

Let’s take a closer look at reskilling and upskilling and discuss what these terms mean, where they overlap, and where they differ.


Reskilling refers to learning new skills or receiving the education needed to change one’s career or job. Reskilling is usually necessary when a person can not continue in their current field or decide to pursue a new career path.

If you work in one field, like technology, but want to switch to a completely different area, such as real estate, this would require reskilling.

When changing careers and going through the reskilling process, you may have some overlap in your knowledge base that you can draw from, even in a new job. Because of this, reskilling may involve building on existing skills such as problem-solving, customer service, or tech skills.

Examples of Reskilling:

  • Leaving a job as an Amazon warehouse associate and learning the skills you need to become a data analyst. 
  • Leaving a job as a chef and taking a training boot camp to become a project manager
  • Leaving a job as a barista and teaching yourself the SEO and social media skills to work in digital marketing.

Chris shares his reskilling experience in the video below:




Upskilling refers to improving or expanding one’s existing skills to keep up with changing job requirements or to advance one’s career. Upskilling usually involves training in specific areas in the industry or company where you already work. It would also be upskilling if you stay in the same field but take an advanced job at a similar company or move up to a higher position at your current company.

Many workplaces embrace providing their employees with upskilling opportunities so that they can increase employee retention and promotion from within the company. 

Examples of upskilling: 

  • Working as a line cook and receiving the training needed to become the head chef.
  • Working as a data analyst and learning a new programming language to expand the projects you can take on. 
  • Working as a travel agent and teaching yourself a new language to expand your clientele. 

As Portland shares in the video below, upskilling contributed to her promotion:

Recognize the signs of being overwhelmed

Learning new skills or taking on new responsibilities can create anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. This is especially true if you are under a deadline for reskilling or upskilling. For example, perhaps you must receive a new certification within a month or master a new software by the end of the year.

Feeling overwhelmed is incredibly common for those who are currently upskilling or reskilling. Recognizing early signs that you are overwhelmed is important to regain some balance and feel in control. Some common signs include feeling stressed, anxious, and struggling to concentrate. 

Feeling anxious

Anxiety is an emotional stress response that can signal you are overwhelmed. Though anxiety can manifest differently in everyone, there are a few things you can watch out for. If you are experiencing any of these, it may indicate that you are anxious.

  • You may experience a sense of unease, worry, or fear. You may feel apprehensive but unable to tie the feeling to anything specific. You may think something terrible may happen, even if there are no indicators of this.
  • You may find it difficult to relax and unwind, even if you are in a calm environment. Your mind may race as you try to relax.
  • You may experience physical anxiety symptoms, including sweating, elevated heart rate, or muscle tension. 

If you experience any of these anxiety symptoms, it could be a sign that you are overwhelmed. 

Difficulty concentrating

When you are overwhelmed, it’s challenging to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Your mind may race with various thoughts, making it hard to focus on what you must do. Even simple tasks may seem challenging, making you feel you need to progress more.

If you’re overwhelmed, it can cause a feeling of being scattered or unfocused, leading to decreased productivity or even feelings of frustration. Overall, being unable to concentrate can significantly impact your ability to be productive and achieve your goals.

Loss of interest or motivation

If you are trying to maintain your motivation and find that the work you used to be passionate about just isn’t exciting anymore, ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you lack an interest in the project or goal you are working toward? Are you bored with the task? If neither of these options fits, your lack of motivation indicates that you are overwhelmed and feeling burnt out.

Lack of motivation related to being overwhelmed could look like this:

  • Procrastinating on your reskilling or upskilling tasks by doing other things or simply delaying what you don’t feel like doing.
  • A feeling of apathy regarding the work you are typically interested in: sometimes, you tell yourself you don’t care if you finish the tasks.
  • Feeling tired and lacking energy. You may even sleep more due to fatigue, making it harder to complete projects on time.


Recognize the signs of being overwhelmed.


Strategies for overcoming feeling overwhelmed 

Though feeling overwhelmed is not pleasant at all, you aren’t alone. Luckily, you can try some things to lower your stress level so that navigating the reskilling and upskilling processes is as smooth as possible. 

Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks 

Breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones can be an effective strategy for tackling complex or challenging projects, especially when reskilling or upskilling. 

When breaking down an enormous task into smaller ones, identify the key components or steps involved. Next, you should figure out when you want to complete the entire reskilling or upskilling process and set a goal date. You can then organize these components into smaller, more manageable tasks with their own due dates. 

For example, suppose you are learning a new programming language. In that case, you might break down the process into tasks such as reading the documentation, practicing simple exercises, and building a small project. Then, focus on just the first task, and try to put the rest out of your mind. 

Creating a to-do list helps track your progress and keeps you focused on each task. Prioritizing each task by importance is essential to concentrate your efforts on the most critical tasks first. 

Shift your focus to something else

Taking a break from the task at hand can be a valuable tool for managing overwhelming feelings. This break could involve walking around, doing something enjoyable, or simply taking a few minutes to relax and clear your mind.

During this break, it’s important to disconnect from whatever is causing you to feel overwhelmed and give your brain a chance to rest.

A break can clear your mind and allow you to return to the task with a fresh perspective. When you return to the task after taking a break, you may have a clearer mind and renewed energy. 

Celebrate the small successes

Celebrating small successes along the way can help you stay motivated and engaged. Rewards can be small, such as taking a break to do something you enjoy or treating yourself to a favorite snack or beverage. By celebrating your progress and rewarding yourself for a job well done, you can create positive associations with learning and reskilling, which can help keep you engaged and motivated over the long term.


Strategies for overcoming feeling overwhelmed

Keep going with Pathstream

Reskilling or upskilling can be long and challenging, and getting discouraged is easy. It’s important to remember that progress is not always linear and that setbacks or challenges may arise. Be patient and remember that setbacks are a normal part of the learning process. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards of acquiring new skills and advancing your career are worth it. 

Pathstream is always available to support and guide you through upskilling and reskilling on your own schedule. With Pathstream, you don’t have to go through the process alone. You’ll receive the necessary guidance and support through our advisors and career coaches to help you identify and gain the skills you need to confidently embark on the next chapter of your life and begin working towards achieving your career goals. 

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