The #1 barrier to achieving career success is you. You are standing in the way of your own success with negative distortions. I am often my clients’ best cheerleader, while they act as their own worst enemy beating themselves up with criticism, self-doubt and worry. I listen patiently and hear them offer up their dominant thoughts from the dark side. Thoughts come and go so frequently that we rarely think about how they impact our day. It is impossible to think negatively and have healthy career development. What we think has a direct impact on how we feel, what we say and how we act. Erase these eight thought patterns that can derail you from your future.
1. Absolute Thinking – This is the tendency to perceive your job situation as either all bad or all good with no shades of gray. This is an “always” or “never” mentality. It may take the form of: “I’ll never be able to get a job.” or “I’ve always been this way.”
2. Blaming – An unconstructive way to handle things is to blame someone, something or yourself. This may include such phrases as: “It’s my entire fault” or “It is all their fault.” or even “If xyz didn’t happened, then I would not be in this situation.”
3. Over-generalizing – Taking a negative experience as the predictor that universally your life is a failure.
4. Negative Thinking – This is a habit focusing on a self-defeating inner dialog of gloom and doom. Catch yourself from saying: “That will never work!”, “I’m just too tired to do a job search.”, “I can’t seem to get my act together.”, “I’m nervous about the interview.”, “I can’t find a job.” or “I’ll never be able to get ahead.”
5. Discrediting – This is the belief that positive accomplishments, strengths, achievements, attributes are somehow less important. Prevent yourself from devaluing by avoiding phrases like: “That’s a nice idea, BUT….” Or “Yes, BUT.” My advice is to rid yourself of that big fat BUT.
6. Forecasting – Predicting that the worst is going to happen. Let me reprogram you: You’re future is NOT dismal and hopeless!
7. Over-exaggerating – This is where you blow your situation way out of proportion. This is a skewed thought pattern that the sky is falling.
8. Self-Sabotaging – Creating barriers, road blocks and hurdles in your mind that manifest themselves in negative words and then self-defeating behaviors. These include: “My resume is not good enough.” or “It would be too much work to go after what I really want.”
Who is telling you all of this nonsense? You are! YOU are the problem!!! Don’t believe the lies you keep telling yourself. These are bad thoughts that do not serve you. All your career problems are in your head, and fortunately, that’s where all the solutions are.
Career issues and challenges are often rooted in deeper emotional problems. If they are not addressed, they tend to manifest themselves in unconvincing resumes and cover letters, job hopping, procrastination, perfectionism, career confusion, analysis paralysis, or a lack of confidence during interviews and salary negotiation. Fortunately, emotional issues can be repaired and you can move forward with your future. Don’t let yourself be riddled with anxiety. I encourage you to seek professional help if necessary.
Let’s stop and regain some perspective. The first step is to become aware that you actually have limiting beliefs. Next, pay attention to your body and how you are feeling. For example, a rapid heart beat might indicate accelerating anxiety or an upset stomach could indicate fear. My advice is to practice identifying the feelings that hold you back. When you begin to experience fear and anxiety, stop yourself and ask what you were thinking immediately prior to those feelings. In all probability, you were having one of the eight destructive thought patterns from above. Once you are conscious of them, you can begin to replace them with positive messages.
When I hear an excessive amount of negativity, I will interrupt and say “What career advice would you give to your kids or best friend?” The response is almost universally positive and inspiring. I ask them to listen carefully to what they just said, take that advice themselves, and then model the way for others. If you wouldn’t call your kids or your friends a loser, then don’t say it to yourself. Teach yourself to live your life forward instead of obsessing about what’s in the rear view mirror.
Don’t concentrate on your weaknesses, but in fact, focus what IS actually working well for you. Make a list and write it down. Find the solutions to your career development in your strengths. My advice is to train yourself to erase the tapes of negativity that prevent you from advancing. Reprogram your mind that there is hope, because there really is hope. Don’t isolate yourself from others; instead, develop a support network of cheerleaders and allies.
Be careful that destructive thoughts don’t get lodge in your mind and then spread like cancer. Work on controlling these runaway thoughts that clutter your head. You can deliberately plant positive affirmations in your mind such as: “I know I’m going to get a new job.”, “I can do it.” and “I deserve to succeed.” Without question, the most important foundation for your success is your attitude.