Struggling to find a career that makes you happy? Must be because:
A. No one’s hiring.
B. Your resume needs work..
C. You don’t have enough experience.
Actually, the answer is D.: None of the above.
Having worked with over 1000 super-smart job seekers, I know that the biggest barrier between you and your next career opportunity is not external (the economy, the lack of connections, your resume). It’s you.
Or, more specifically, it’s your mindset.
Here’s what I see day after day: talented, motivated professionals standing in their own way because they’ve already dismissed the idea that their “ideal” career is possible. They’ve bought into false assumptions about pay, requirements, needed experience, and more, and so they remain in unfulfilled roles, perpetually looking for the wrong opportunity. This is settling.
No wonder you can’t find a fulfilling career that excites you.
When I work with clients, I start with getting them to unshackle their minds. I want them to see the full picture of what’s possible.
The next step is to create a plan to move toward this new, bigger reality—whether that’s moving into a new industry (without taking a pay cut), creating a dream job at the current employer, or scoring that one-in-a-million opportunity with an admirable mentor.
1. Identify Your Own Limiting Beliefs
They may be keeping you from taking huge leaps forward. It can be tough to identify your limitations, because it calls for a new level of self-awareness. But listen to yourself talk.
Pay specific attention to phrases like, “Well I know that I can't have it all,” or “I know that it's going to be really difficult to find something that has lots of flexibility, and that pays me well, and allows me to do the type of research that I love to do,” or “I know there aren't very many jobs out there where I could [fill in the blank what you really want to do].”
If Chris Massad, featured in this inspirational story had continued to limit himself, he’d never have made the move from working in a bureaucracy to brewing beer full-time.
The language you use to describe your situation is a huge red flag that’s revealing one thing: You’ve dialed back your dreams and are selling yourself short. Make a list, writing down your own restricting statements. Be aware of what you believe, so you can meet those false assumptions head-on and counter them.
2. Replace Your Assumptions
They may be keeping you from seeing what would better serve you. Once you identify where you’re cutting off possibilities, you need to challenge them. Here’s what this looks like:
You Say: “Well, I know that I can’t have it all.”
Now You Say: “Why not? Who says? What is “Having it all? Do I know anyone who has what I want?”
You Say: “I know that it’s going be really difficult…”
Now You Say: “Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I’ve done tough things before.”
You Say: “I know there aren’t very many positions out there where I could…”
Now You Say: “Even if there aren't very many doesn’t mean that I can’t have one. It’s not like I need 72 jobs. I only need one.”
The concept here is that each time you find yourself unnecessarily limiting your perceptions, you come back with an answer that re-opens those doors, if only a crack. Even if you can’t yet see the clear path forward, you’ll already have mastered the first step: acceptance that it might be possible to obtain your dream job.
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3. Use Your New Mindset
It may enable you to realign your career search with a bigger, more accurate view of what’s possible. This step has to be approached gently or the resistance in your mind will flare up big-time. You may even have to play games with yourself, like saying, “What would this look like if I could make it happen?”
“Can I give myself permission to set aside my current beliefs and my need to know the path to at least imagine a future where I have exactly what I want?”
I’m not asking you to completely abandon all reason and logic; this isn’t encouragement to go after roles you’re completely unqualified for (and if you’re unsure if you’re under-qualified or straight-up unqualified, read this). Rather, I’m asking you to use reason and logic. Once you admit something is at least possible, that’s often enough to get your mind working on the “how.”
I say this because I’ve seen it: People who open up their new vision of what they can achieve, and then allowing the belief that they can get it. Like a set of dominoes, the mindset starts a chain reaction that moves the process forward.
Is a change of perspective enough on its own to get you your dream gig? No, of course not. But your mindset sets the bar for the rest of your search.
Aim high, and you can get pretty darn close. Aim too low, and you’ll be disappointed. It’s the difference between being someone who soars professionally, and someone who limps along from unsatisfactory job to unsatisfactory job. Remember: It’s all in your mind.
Still trying to figure out your path? Ditch the confusion for clarity by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Career That Fits You.
Here at The Muse, we love introducing you to people who can boost your career. We are working with this contributor on an affiliate basis (meaning we earn a little money when you choose to use their services), but rest assured that we don’t just work with anyone. When it comes to articles like this, we chose to work with this coach not because he wanted a Muse byline, but because his advice was truly awesome. Here’s to finding the career of your dreams!
Photo of frustrated person courtesy of Aleli Dezmen/Getty Images.
Scott Anthony Barlow is the Founder and CEO of Happen to Your Career. His team produces two of the Top 5 “Career Change” podcasts on iTunes: What Fits You? and the Happen to Your Career Podcast. He gets way excited about careers, coffee, and Parkour (not necessarily in that order). With over 2000 interviews under his belt as a former HR professional, Scott’s gift is quickly getting to the core of what is holding career-changers back and helping others find their unique Signature Strengths! To figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you, check out his Figure it Out Guide.More from this Author