“Right now I find myself constantly making lists of what interests me with the hopes of finding something that will motivate me to keep going,” my client Brian* told me.
Brian was between jobs. He’d spent the last eight years in a field that he found unsatisfactory. As a result, he was questioning whether he should continue in that familiar field or try something new.
“Have you been taking any action on these new career ideas, or have they mostly stayed in your head?” I questioned Brian.
“They’ve mostly been in my head,” Brian replied.
Brian had a classic case of “early dismissal”. He was coming up with potential career ideas, thinking them over, and ultimately rejecting their viability. Notice that both the ideas and the rejection of those ideas took place Brian’s mind, not in the real world.
I often write about this concept because I see it so frequently amongst people who feel stuck in regards to their career. Early dismissal feels like we’re being productive because we’re thinking about our career direction, but we’re actually getting in our own way.
So what causes early dismissal? It is always unhelpful thought patterns. The thoughts themselves might vary from person to person, but the commonality is that those thoughts lead people into feelings of hopelessness and frustration.
This was the case for Brian as well.
It became apparent in our conversation that Brian’s experience of early dismissal was brought on by the belief, “I will not find a fulfilling career path.”
This thought resulted in Brian shutting down around his job search. After all, what fun would a job search be if it only brought him more of the same drudgery he’d previously experienced?
Brain was a quick study, and he noticed the impact of this thought right away.
“That thought is like a self fulfilling prophecy. I think I won’t find a fulfilling career path, so I don’t put very much into my career exploration or job search, and then the result I get is that I don’t have a fulfilling career path,” he said.
“Exactly,” I told Brian. “Our beliefs and thoughts can have a large impact on our lives. The good news is we can offer your brain a thought that moves you to a better place. The key here is that it must be a thought that you actually believe, and it must feel better than your original thought.”
After a bit of brainstorming Brian came up with the following idea, “It’s possible for me to find a fulfilling career path.”
“How does that thought feel?” I asked.
The energy in Brian’s voice immediately increased.
“Oh, I feel way more optimistic. Hopeful. Lighter. And I can see how from this place I would act more motivated and put more energy into my job search. By doing that I’d be more likely to find a job that I like,” he replied.
“Okay, now, do you believe that new thought?” I inquired.
“Yes,” Brian answered.
Brian and I spoke a bit more about the specifics of what he could do to move his career exploration forward in the real world.
A few weeks later Brian emailed me to let me know how he was doing.
“I just wanted to reach out and thank you for your support during my career transition. Speaking with you was helpful as well as reading your articles. I have reached out to several people in my field of interest, and I am also looking at graduate school programs that will allow me to combine my interests. I know its a lot, but I’m confident I can make it happen.”
Brian was finally taking action on his career ideas in the real world, which is exactly what we all need to do to get unstuck and achieve career clarity.
*Name and identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality. Printed with permission.
What real world actions could you be taking to aid your career? What thoughts would support you in taking those actions? Leave a comment with your ideas below!