Several years ago, I felt like a career transition was unfairly thrust upon me and it took me by surprise. I do not believe this to be true now, but it’s what I felt at the time. I found myself riding a confusing wave of emotions that were new to me. I had a mixture of excitement, anticipation, fear and absolute dread as the prospect of not knowing where my next paycheck was coming from stared me straight in the face and caused me to sweat.
In fact, some mornings I’d wake up and feel angry and start playing out the words of Johnny Paycheck’s song “Take This Job And Shove It.” And sometimes by the afternoon of the same day, I’d feel the weight of tremendous loss, sadness, or heaviness that clouded my reasoning, colored my perspective, and caused me to pull the emergency brake on my business-building strategies and hide-out in the safety of my home office or behind the veil of social media.
As a more accurate view of what happened has gradually dawned on me because I’ve sought out feedback from others and I’ve consciously made the choice to ease away from the intense emotional experience that was mostly self-inflicted and decided to lean rather into positivity, gratitude, and hope, the emotional Tsunami has been reframed as a gentle ripple hitting the beautiful shores of Riveria Maya in Mexico. This was a mindset that held my career success back, that for the most part finally got cleaned out of the attic.
Further, as I’ve interacted with hundreds of job seekers, I’ve recognized several patterns of mindsets that get in their way and maybe getting in your way as well. Here are five of them.
“DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG? DID MY EMPLOYER DO SOMETHING WRONG?”
Our culture is preoccupied with problems and often when these problems are found, blaming and shaming oneself or others follows shortly after. It’s a vicious and unproductive cycle that is career quicksand for anyone who engages in it. Certainly, if you feel like there were potential legal issues at your place of employment, consult an experienced HR professional or lawyer, but much of the time this is not really what’s at stake.
What’s at stake in this situation for you may be a new way of seeing the world and how you and others fit into it. Change your internal dialogue a little bit and it’ll free you up to experience the success that you truly want, instead of getting caught up in some internal drama that is dragging you backward and weighing you down.
“DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SUCCESSFUL OUTSIDE OF WHERE I WORK RIGHT NOW?”
This question comes up all of the time from recent college grads to experienced mid-level professionals to executives I work with who call me up for perspective and support. It’s completely normal to doubt your ability when you begin to picture yourself in a new situation that you’ve never been in before.
Think back to the first time you drove a car in Driver’s Ed or on your parents’ property out in the country. For many of you, there was probably a mixture of excitement and nervousness because you were doing something you'd never done before. And beyond that, it probably took a lot of work to focus on staying on the road and making turns, but fast forward a few days, weeks, or months and you were nearly a pro. And, how much time do you consciously invest in thinking about your driving skills now? Probably very little.
The bottom-line is that you have what it takes to learn to be successful outside of where you work right now, but it will be a learning process and initially, it’ll require more of your focus, more of your energy, and yes, you will stumble sometimes.
“IF I CHANGE JOBS, WILL I LEAVE MY CURRENT EMPLOYER/BOSS IN A LURCH?”
This is one my favorites and is especially common among star performers and managers at smaller organizations, where the impact of leaving the company can be significant; however, let’s play with this perspective a little bit and see what may be underneath it.
If you’re thinking about changing jobs because the compensation is not where you need it to be for you or your family, or there’s no one in the company whom you consider or mentor or someone you can learn from, or if there’s a toxic culture created primarily by some big personalities at the top of the organization that’s unlikely to get resolved in the near future, or if there’s truly no place for you to move up or around to grow and expand your skills and career, then who is leaving who in a lurch?
You may think that I’m suggesting that the employer is leaving you in a lurch, but I’d challenge you to think about how you are leaving yourself in a lurch by staying there. There may be some truth to the idea that your employer is leaving you in a lurch, but that’s outside of your control and is a bit "blamey", so why focus on it?
Remember, you have the power of choice. Decide to make choices that align with your values, vision, and verve. And, if you do decide to leave the company, do your employer a favor and work with them to develop out a transition strategy to reduce the negative impacts on the business.
“MY JOB IS MY LIFE AND I’M NOT SURE HOW I COULD DO SOMETHING ELSE AND STILL BE ME.”
This mindset usually hides from its subject pretty well and can be hard to identify in yourself – it usually takes someone else who you’ve invited into your life to share it with you – a mentor, coach, colleague, or friend. Personally, this thought was a part of my own career transition.
For nearly 9 years, I pursued 15+ coaching certifications, a master’s degree, and dumped my very soul into my work to the point where I defined my personal success with my very limited view of what I saw my career success to be in one organization. The result was that I was a contributing team member of a multi-million dollar business, but I blurred the lines of what I did for work with my value as a person. I went too far.
So, you can imagine that once I faced a transition from the job I loved, it felt like an identity crisis to me. I found myself asking, “Who am I?”, “What am I really all about?” and “How do I make sense and meaning out of life now?” I hit a brick wall and began to question everything in my life. There is a difference between your work and your worth and you can be you outside of your current job.
“I CAN ONLY PROCEED IF I HAVE ALL OF THE ANSWERS.”
Let me get this out here right at the beginning – you will never have all of the answers. This type of thinking can be a slippery-slope especially for the exceptionally brilliant who are used to having it all together, getting the 4.0, and pursuing excellence in everything that they do.
This type of thinking also loses sight of an amazing career transitioning strategy – asking questions and learning from others during informational interviews, networking events, and during interviews. Sometimes the best answers are questions. So, instead of thinking that you need to have all of the answers, brainstorm a list of questions that you have that would help you make a decision on what career you’d like to pursue and the people and resources that may be able to help you begin to form your answers or even more insightful questions.
WRAPPING IT UP
Finally, if you feel like there is something holding you back in your career and would like help in uncovering what it might be and brainstorming alternative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that will help move you toward your most compelling career and significant life, it'd be great to chat with you.