Many career experts compare looking for a job to dating.
And it’s true. You are looking for a great relationship and sometimes it takes a while to find it.
But I got to thinking: There’s one relationship that often gets overlooked. I’m not referring to networking (which is crucial). I’m talking about your relationship with yourself.
I think it’s safe to say that every client I work with comes to me reverberating internally with life experience. They arrive with the emotional memory of all the jobs they have had so far, carrying the increased responsibilities of evolving, complex lives.
Embedded behind all of this is their original concept of “work” conveyed to them by families, teachers, professors, friends, and the world at large.
✴It is no wonder that many people feel stuck when they are contemplating a new career direction.
✴It is no wonder that they procrastinate on the self-reflective homework that I assign.
If this is you, I want to offer two encouraging thoughts:
1. There’s nothing wrong with you. You have simply reached a place where your internal needs are calling to you. And this is good. This is where growth starts.
2. You definitely can get past this block if you are willing to pay attention to your reactions and feelings.
Because here’s a truth that we are not generally taught (at least in the West):
Your career is not separate from you. You really don’t have “two halves.” You are whole. And your career journey reflects you. And you can’t run away from yourself.
I can almost guarantee you that when you look to shift your career, you will bump up against feelings that have more to do with your sense of yourself and your worth than the state of your resume, or the ATS system.
When faced with having to contact a hiring manager, you may suddenly freeze, feeling unworthy and unqualified. Maybe you hear a parent’s voice saying, “What do you think you’re doing?”
You may judge yourself harshly. You may feel guilty about moving in a different direction.
If you can be open enough to listen to what your mind and body are telling you, you will free yourself to decide and to plan.
Sound like New-Age fluff?
❁A public facilities administrator came to me in search of a happier, less political career. He was gifted mechanically and loved to help people develop. And yet, he just couldn’t take a step to get out.
❁A highly skilled IT professional was stuck in an untenable work situation and couldn’t find the courage to speak up. He thought maybe he needed a new career.
❁Another client with a long, satisfying career was looking at her “next act.” She was having a tough time considering how to address nagging career satisfaction gaps, faced with repeated delays until the kids were finished with college and an aging parent no longer needed care.
All three of these clients have stellar qualifications and accomplishments to back them up.
The issue was not their job fitness; it was their identity and self-confidence.
We dug deep. I assigned journaling prompts and other exercises. We talked about past successes and failures, impressions, and perceptions of jobs, bosses, assignments, and colleagues.
They realized a few things.
❁The former public employee realized that because much of his career was doing “hands-on” technical work, he felt like he wouldn’t be taken seriously. He took a step to make a few contacts. He now works for a global private company. He doesn’t feel as limited anymore. He reported to me that his wife noticed his increased confidence and improved demeanor.
❁The IT began to see that company morale was affecting his perspective. The negative talk was crushing. He just figured he wouldn’t be heard. Since as a father of two young children, he needed work stability, he felt a change might be a risk. So, he got clear about his non-negotiables, set some boundaries at work, and started looking. He got two great job offers—without changing fields.
❁The client with family concerns saw that she needed autonomy. She had been last on her priority list for many years, and it took time to gather the courage to make a move. She has given herself permission to explore new paths that build on her talents. It’s often the crux of difficulty when seeking career happiness.
If you are considering bailing from your job or career, here’s some advice to help you conquer your reticence:
1. Get clear about why you are looking. Is it about money? Is something else going on in the workplace that is making you feel uncomfortable? Think about when you feel most triggered. What goes through your mind when this happens? Write down what you’re thinking. Conversely, write down what happens when something goes right at work. What are you feeling and thinking? Are you noticing a pattern in your thinking?
2. Notice how you’re feeling and address it.
Don’t suppress what you’re feeling. Often, we can “talk ourselves out of” emotions, but they linger in our bodies in the form of sleep difficulties, digestive problems, headaches, relationship conflicts, and other issues.
You may be able to journal and find relief. Or talk to a friend. But you may also find that a licensed therapist can help you identify the root cause of your feelings and develop strategies to cope with them.
3. Don’t do anything rash.
If you are convinced that you need to make a career change, take time with the idea. Until you’ve sorted your feelings, don’t quit your job.
It’s tempting to shunt all this aside. But I can assure you that somewhere, somehow, it will resurface. This is true about other areas of life as well. We tend to repeat patterns until we can break them.
♦You will remain naggingly unhappy without a clear idea of what to do about it.
♦You will repeat behaviors that pushed you into a dark place. You will apply for the wrong jobs and have bad interviews (and potentially land a job you hate).
♦You will continue to feel unsupported and anxious and this can take a toll on your health.
The bottom line
Your relationship with yourself is priceless. It’s the foundation of your being.
No matter how many jobs you accept or quit, it will sustain you. Take some time to nurture it. It will pay off in many ways, including your career success.
Need to start your job search? I would love to help you recapture your motivation! Reach out to me at Ruth@ConfidentCareerSearch.com, or fill out my contact form.