There are a handful of things in your life that you use to measure success. And while certainly others will be remembered better by you in fifty years, it is your career that stands out most here and now. It is the direct manifestation of your hard work – the result of the years spent in school, entry-level positions and later moving your way up a corporate ladder. So, why does it seem so often that you are actively sabotaging that career – creating pitfalls that you can’t help but step into when it seems the next rung of success is only inches away?
The second guessing might start early, when the first inklings of opportunity appear on the horizon. What could go wrong? Does your boss really want to promote you or is he taking advantage of you? Are you moving your way up the ladder or is it all horizontal? these are the questions you ask and never once do you stop and wonder why you are asking them – what internal motivations are causing you to expect the worst and prepare for catastrophe even when success is so close.
All the while, by focusing on everything that could go wrong and preparing for what you feel the worst case scenario might be, you are preparing yourself for failure. Your mind, practiced at running through the same potentially disastrous scenario over and over again starts to make it a reality. You start to create the nightmare that you worked so hard to avoid. It’s only natural – focus on something long and hard enough and it will come to fruition. This is equally true for both negative and positive emotions.
Why, if your goal is to succeed and find a position you truly enjoy, do you find yourself focused so heavily on what could go wrong? What subtle, subconscious factors are causing you to sabotage your career, often before it gets started? When you want something badly enough in life, strange things happen. To start, you try to be prepared for every possible eventuality including (especially including) the catastrophes. At the same time, you may not think or expect that you are ready or deserving of the advancements you have have been striving for. You may even be afraid of the change these things will bring and subconsciously you fight against them.
The measure of success you are holding yourself up to is wrong. You are focusing too intently on what other people will see as successful and in the process are creating a measure of worth that doesn’t take into account what you want and what you expect of yourself. The result is a pursuit that not only doesn’t sync with your desires but that can be sabotaged before it even begins.
To counter this mindset, first take a deep breath and step back, realizing what is happening. Ask yourself why you are making the decisions you make – what are you trying to protect and whose vision of success are you attempting to replicate? Is it yours or someone else’s? Be honest with yourself about your motivations and about what drives those motivations and finally create a fixed target you can strive for so that when you do realize success, you will not only appreciate it, but recognize and celebrate it.