5 Mindsets That Block Your Career Success


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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. 

How To Break The Failed Resolutions Cycle


“Any New Year’s resolutions you’re keeping in mind for this year?” John laughed and replied, “No way. I gave up on those long ago. They never happen for me.”

He is not alone in this thinking. So many of us scribble out lofty ideas in maniacal hyper-ambition on the first of January for many years in a row. After a while, we start to notice a pattern. Every year, we scrawl the same goals on brightly colored sticky notes, and every year we are not a tiny inch closer to those results than the year before, no matter what motivational methods we try. And so we sigh and come to accept that we are simply lazy, unmotivated individuals. Or are we? Perhaps we simply need to rearrange our thinking.

Forget January 1st

For starters, let’s banish this idea that the start of a new year must bow with the weight of grandiose resolutions. There is nothing magical about hanging up a new calendar. Years are simply part of a man-made system of marking time, but time is always present, and any day of any month of any year is a good day for striving for personal growth and development. Throw away the idea that a magical clean slate is only available on the first of every year. It is yours for the taking any time you want it.

Make Sure Your Goals Are SMART

Ambiguous goals also play a big part in our failure to cross off those resolutions. We dream up fluffy ideals that feel easily achievable in those adrenalin filled moments, but just like fluff, those ideals are mostly empty air. Without something to really sink our teeth into, we never get the real work identified and completed. Success requires SMART goals.

Specific- “Learn leadership skills.” “Make a greater profit.” “Become an entrepreneur.” These are great starts, but lack specificity. What do you mean by “leadership skills”? What will equate to leadership skills? What particular attributes and abilities make up a leader? What do you mean by “greater profit”? Greater than what? Are you talking gross or profit margin? What do you mean by “become an entrepreneur”?  What sort of income-producing activity do you want to begin? Be smart and get specific.

Measurable-  You need to be able to measure your progress as you go along. Remember, as kids, using those cute little sticker charts? We excitedly added stickers each time we performed a chore or other task until the chart was full and we received our reward. This practice was a simplified method of making a goal measurable. It quantified our end result into specific steps. This is a measurable goal. Think numbers. Think time. Think objectives. Be smart and make it measurable.

Attainable- So your goal is now specific with measurable milestones, but is it attainable? Can you legitimately accomplish this goal? You want your effort to stretch you – too easy and it wouldn’t be a goal – but you also want it to be within your ability to reach it. I generally recommend you increase what you think you can easily do by about 20%. In other words, make the 80% mark doable, but the 100% mark more challenging. This stretches and grows you into the professional that you want to be. Be smart and make it attainable.

Relevant- Even if your goal is attainable, you need to make sure it fits into your life. Ask yourself, "How do these career goals align with my long-term vision?" If you can’t find a connection, dig deeper to see what you can unearth. When family and friends gather around your coffin, how do you want them to remember you? Do your goals align with that vision? If not, refine them or scratch them. Be smart and make it relevant.

Time Specific- Many of us humans tend to wait until the last minute to accomplish a task. If there is no “last minute”, we will never do it. If the deadline is too far away, we tend to put it off and then forget about it or, at the least, lose our “want to”. As you break your goals down into measurable milestones, assign each of them a date or timeframe to aim at. Be smart and make it time specific.

Know Yourself

Above all else, know who you are. I don’t mean take some sort of personality test. I mean take time to consider your biology.

We all know that some people are genetically prone to a slim profile while others find weight maintenance a nearly impossible chore. This is not some cruel joke of fate. It is due to our coded DNA, which governs our body’s fat retention, and to our neural pathways, which govern our behaviors. But it is not just our metabolism that is governed by our DNA and neural pathways. The truth is we ARE our biology.

In order to ensure that our goals are relevant and attainable for us, we need to truly know ourselves. Just because Entrepreneur Bob was able to go from written business plan to a successful high-profit business in a significantly short amount of time does not mean that you can as well. True, there are the variables of business and industry. But he is also a different person. Perhaps his genetic makeup allows his body and brain to function on very little sleep. Perhaps from birth, he has been reinforcing neural pathways that result in highly motivated behaviors.

You have to consider what your behavior patterns are and realize that if you need to change them in order to meet your goals, you need to factor in the time and effort it will take to change those behaviors. You will also need to consider whether your genetically dictated physical needs allow you to reach your goals in the time you’ve given, or even whether it’s a goal to pursue at all.

For more on how our DNA and neural pathways dictate behavior, check out these articles: 

Studying Personality Using Behavioral Genetics

Neural Pathways: How They Affect Our Actions and Decisions

In closing, I would like to quote the hot mess, Charlene. “Everybody’s like ‘be yourself’, but on the new year it’s like ‘be another person’. If you didn’t like me last year, you won’t like me this year.”