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The top tunes that prevent career change

The top tunes that prevent career change

If you’ve been thinking about or working towards a positive career change, it might help to have a heads up on the top thought patterns that prevent people from making a concrete change.

These thoughts can act like tunes in our head, set to repeat, replaying over and over and causing doubt, procrastination and a sense of futility.

They encourage us to give in and assume its game over before we’ve made any significant strides in the direction of our desired career.

The good news is that these tunes are typically limiting beliefs, and on closer examination often show themselves for what they are – imagined rather than real fears conjured up by our mind in a well-meaning but misled bid to protect us.

So what are the tunes? The playlist goes something like this:

Category: I’m a lost cause 

Top tunes:

  • Circles in the sand: I can’t figure out what I want, I’ll get it wrong, I can’t make a move
  • It’s too late baby: I should have started on this earlier, I’m out of time
  • Age of worry: I’ve missed the boat, I’m too old to make it happen

Category: I’ll never make enough money

Top tunes:

  • In the ghetto: A change means I’ll end up broke, or worse, on the streets
  • I’m going back to the start: Starting anew means the bottom rung of the career ladder
  • Highway to the danger zone: It’s too risky, I’ll lose everything I’ve ever worked for

Category: I’m not making enough progress

Top tunes:

  • It’s a sign: These hurdles prove it’s not meant to be, it shouldn’t be this hard
  • The slow train: It’s taking too long, it’ll never happen, I should give up the ghost
  • In the way: There are too many things going on, I’m not building momentum fast enough

If any of these tunes sound familiar, ask yourself one question: 

Can you absolutely, 100% know that it’s true?

If deep down the answer is no, your mind is likely entertaining a limiting belief.

One way to prevent it from causing inaction is to challenge yourself to find proof points for the exact opposite tune. 

For example, ‘I’m too old to make it happen’ becomes ‘I’m not too old to make it happen’, and you find proof points or ideas where that new tune could be true instead of the original.

The more you challenge your own mind’s fearful thinking on tunes that hold you back, the more likely you’ll be to make progress and activate the career you really want.

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The best piece of career advice no-one will ever give you

The best piece of career advice no-one will ever give you

It seems there are a lot of rules on the road to career success.

Work harder than everyone else.

Make life sacrifices.

Suit up.

Network like a demon.

Be an extrovert.

Don’t be too wild with your ideas.

Avoid ‘different’ clothing.

Fix your weaknesses.

We are taught that ignoring these rules is a career no no, which will send us straight to the back of the queue when it comes to career progression and promotion.

It’s much safer to fit the mould.

But what if you want work to feel like play and believe in a work/life balance?

What if wearing a corporate uniform of sorts just doesn’t feel like you?

What if networking and being the loudest person in the room makes your introverted self want to vomit?

What if you’re an ideas machine or someone whose wardrobe is an expression of your creative self?

What if you’re much more interested in putting your strengths to work than directing your energy towards the things you aren’t naturally good at?

The truth is that if adhering to rules like these means we compromise who we really are – contorting ourselves to fit someone else’s idea of what’s right – we’re never going to perform to the best of our ability or be at the top of our game.

From my years of coaching, what’s clear is that those who are most successful and happy in their work approach their career on their own terms – whatever that means for them.

They do what feels good, whether that’s wearing a casual jacket and chinos or fuchsia pink in a sea of black suits; challenging the status quo with a leftfield creative idea or finishing at 5.30pm to pursue their passion for ballet, painting or athletics.

When we embrace who we really are at work we exude personal confidence, which studies suggest has more influence on career success than talent, hard work or education. 

It makes us more likely to be admired, listened to and have more sway over group decisions.

So ask yourself, are you are playing to a script for success that is dictated by other people? 

If you are, consider taking off that metaphorical suit to bring your true and best self to work. 

It will feel a lot more like fun and your career trajectory will likely thank you for it.

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Turning goal setting on its head

Turning goal setting on its head

If you’re like most people, you’ve given this year some thought and have come up with the goals you want to achieve.

If you’re really set on achieving them, you’ve probably created a physical or mental list of the steps you’re going to take to get there.

In fact, when you think about it, your plan is a big list of commitments and actions.

It’s feels a bit unwieldy. Quite daunting. Pretty heavy.

Best not to think about it.

And so the cycle of ‘big goal, over commit, overwhelm, procrastinate and give up’ begins.

If this pattern looks familiar to you, it’s not because you don’t have the appropriate level of will power. You’ve just been taught to goal set in an unhelpful way.

Accepted wisdom says that we should set goals from a destination and checklist point of view. For example:

Destination: I will be two stone lighter. 

Checklist: I will join the gym and go three times a week. I will cycle to work twice a week. I will not eat sugar. I won’t eat after 8pm….


Destination: I will be a better family member. 

Checklist: I will phone my parents every week for 30 minutes. I will Skype my sister in the USA monthly. I will attend more family get togethers….

This approach often ends up as an uninspiring and unmanageable to-do list – effectively, a list of ‘shoulds’ – so we are put off before we’ve even got started.

To set goals that stick try this alternative approach, which will stop you ‘shoulding’ all over yourself and get you setting goals that feel positive and doable.

Get a piece of paper and write down the things you’d really like to achieve this year.

 Take some time and really mull over what’s important to you.

Now rather than create a list of actions to make those things happen, take each goal in turn and actually imagine yourself doing it.

Put yourself in that exact scenario with all of your senses, really allowing yourself to experience what each goal encompasses and how it feels, be it losing weight, reconnecting with family, writing a book, being a better manager, taking that course and so on.

Now write down what the goal involved as you just imagined it, without adding anything that didn’t show up. 

Consider what this tells you about the goal itself, and what it does and doesn’t entail.

Next, write down how the goal feels. Use a few adjectives to clearly describe the feeling state associated with it.

Finally, make those feeling states your actual goals for the year, rather than their related destinations. 

Then stay on the lookout and chase any experience – work or pleasure – that can be described with those adjectives, acknowledging them when they come up.

Approaching goal setting in this way does three things:

  • It helps reveal what each goal really involves so that you don’t make it bigger than it needs to be. Aim to stick to the goal as you imagined it, rather than adding extra dimensions that might lead to a feeling of overwhelm.
  • It gives a clear indicator of the goal’s real purpose, i.e. how you want to feel versus an imagined destination. If you make the feeling state your actual goal, it’s likely you’ll more easily connect with it and want to stick to it. For instance, what feels like an easier objective – feeling strong, energetic and healthy, or being two stone lighter?
  • When you’re clear on how each goal feels you can choose the right ones to focus on. If you have any that don’t feel good, positive, happy or relaxed, then this might suggest you aren’t ready for that particular goal yet. It’s probably more a should than a could. Aim to prioritise the goals that have the feel good factor.

Try it out and see if turning goal setting on its head gives you a new perspective and approach – one that helps you stick to and achieve what you really want to this year. 

P.S. If you’d like help with making serious strides on your career goals, check out my ADVANCE programme.

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