Often career experts talk about what I call the rainbows and butterflies version of having a successful career, but this doesn’t show the complete picture. What usually happens is that the emotional challenges that come with change are treated like a movie extra when in fact it plays a lead role.
While I’m all for the “you can do it approach,” I also think we need to address the importance of having the right mindset when it comes to making a career move. You can do everything right on paper but still not make any progress because mental roadblocks are holding you back.
Here are some things you must quit if you want to move forward and elevate your career.
1. Ignoring Your Brand
Most people don’t set out to build their personal brand because it’s a fun wishlist item. It’s usually because they want more of something they’re currently not getting enough of—be it money, opportunities, or freedom.
Whether you openly accept this fact or begrudge the thought (as you’d rather be the dog handler who walks the show dog in the ring than feel like one), personal branding is important if you want to get ahead.
It’s like climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Who the heck voluntarily climbs 294 steps on purpose? But those stairs are what stand between you and the amazing view at the top.
Well, the same can be said for building your personal brand. A strong personal brand is what stands between you and your career goals. Give your brand the attention it deserves and it will help you get to your next destination.
2. Doubting Yourself
While this seems like the most obvious advice, “doubt” is still a factor that comes into play when making a career change.
Saying things like “I doubt I would qualify for the managerial role” is an obvious red flag, right? But then there are the less obvious things like saying, “I never managed a large-scale project before. I hope this is something I can handle.”
The latter statement seems innocent enough, but there is doubt lurking in the “hope.” Why wouldn’t you be able to manage more responsibilities with the proper training and preparation?
Remove the negative statements and replace them with positive affirmations that validate your ability to learn what you don’t know and build on what you do know.
3. Trying to Please Everyone
It’s funny how people are full of opinions. Even those close to you who may not have their act together, but are suddenly experts when it comes to your life.
Don’t get me wrong, you should be open to advice from others, and there are people with good intentions. But a lot of times this advice is based on opinions shaped by a personal point of view or expectation of you.
For example, maybe you come from a family of doctors or lawyers and it seems like it should be your obvious path. However, you want to be a musician and loathe the idea of working 12 hour days.
It’s your prerogative to explore what path to follow that fulfills your personal and financial needs.
If someone insists on giving you unsolicited advice about what you “should do” with your life, simply say “Thanks for caring. I trust that I’ll do what’s right for me” and keep it moving.
4. Diminishing Your Accomplishments
Have you ever been a part of a group project and that one person who did the least work pops up just in time to talk about what “we” did? Or this person is so arrogant they think that they alone made the project successful? Yet the person who was the true mastermind stays in the background.
There has to be a middle ground between being Kanye West and Mother Theresa.
If your love for super organized color-coded spreadsheets was the catalyst of a tracking a project that helped increase your department’s productivity, that is a win that you should embrace and take credit for the role you played in getting results for the team.
Don’t always chalk it up to something that is not a big deal because the task comes naturally to you. There are many companies out there that would be willing to pay a significant amount of money for the same skills you take for granted daily.
Moral of the story: Give credit to those who deserve it, but make sure you claim your credit too.
5. Waiting For “Tomorrow” to Start
I’m sure the saying “good thing comes to those who wait” is trying to teach us patience. But the impatient side of me would counter it with “good things comes to those who act.”
Simply put: Action is the key to reaching goals, and waiting delays action. There are times when you should be patient but do not use patience as a crutch for not working towards a goal or making a change.
If you have a goal like changing careers, starting your own business, or writing a book, it’s easy to say, “I’ll wait until I finish this project,” “I’ll wait until I get my next performance appraisal,” or “I’ll wait for the kids to get older.” But who says you have to be stagnant in the meantime?
The little orphan Annie promised us that tomorrow is “only a day away,” but what does she know? She was like 11 and has all the time in the world.
Seriously, there is always hope in a new day. But there’s also nothing more powerful than the present. There’s never going to be the perfect time to “start.”
Instead of waiting for the sun and the moon to align, consider small actions you can make today.
Sometimes the only thing standing between you and momentum is the first step.
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