About six weeks ago, one of my career coaching clients took the leap of faith to work with me for three months. Ben (not his real name) had been feeling like a hamster on a treadmill as his head spun in circles trying to figure out what he wanted from a career, or even a job. All he really knew was that what he was doing now was eating him alive. A man of many talents, he couldn't decide what he wanted to do, where he wanted to do it, and how to become successful in his quest. He'd been spinning out of control for months.
Like so many floundering career change wannabees, Ben wrestled with mixed messages all around him. He gave me permission to share his struggle with you in the hope that others could more quickly overcome their own career barriers and make a satisfying career change. One exercise we did was to assess Ben's negative beliefs that have held him back. We all harbor assumptions based on personal past experience or external messages. Here is one of Ben's beliefs and how he processed through it:
Message: My background and experience aren't good enough to find the work I desire.
Source: Hiring managers pile on rejection letters following my job interviews that reinforce that I'm not good enough, that I lack something.
Assumption: I lack the right skills, or I'm not presenting them well enough.
Analysis: I know this is true because I haven't been able to find a job I enjoy. Also, I see the struggles of so many people trying to find work. And the media keeps saying that the economy and the job market are tough.
The Shift of Ben's Belief:
Is it productive to believe this? No, since this limits what I can do going forward.
What is more productive to believe? While my inability to find work may be blamed on the economy and glut of unemployed talent, it could be the result of my needing to learn new job search skills.
What is probable? That my beliefs are a combination of my unrealistic conclusions and the economy in general.
What is possible? I need to find ways to promote myself better, either through a better resume, networking, more nuanced job interview responses/techniques – or all of the above.
What models show me this is possible? I've seen other job seekers succeed at finding employment. Their preparation and dedication paid off.
What action can I take? Remind myself that I am not alone. Every time I receive a rejection letter, I know there are hundreds also receiving similar letters. Understand that the job search search process is a numbers game – I first have to collect my "no's" to get my one yes! And, I have to turn off the television and talk radio; instead, put myself only into positive learning environments.
Wow! And this was just one message! Ben had more to work through, but this one shows you how it is possible to create your own beliefs and not become a passive receptacle for the messages and pontificating around you. Don't get sucked into the prevailing head winds. Stand up and face your beliefs. You decide what you want to believe. The easy way out will not move you down the road to successful career transition. Quit blaming others and start seeking honest answers from within you. Take the necessary time to process. (Not widely known fact: for college graduates with experience, the unemployment rate is only 4.4% – so forget that 8.9%.)
What happened to Ben? Here are some sound clips from his email to me just this week:
"Meg – I think I may have had some sort of epiphany!"
"I started thinking about all of the big ideas from our previous coaching session…"
"The above will sound rambling and disjointed but this idea of [blank] is sticking for some reason."
"I also started thinking about potential applications."
"Anyway, I've been thinking about it a lot. We can discuss this more in depth during our next career coaching session. Just thought I would share."
I just smiled. I so love it when my career coaching clients discover their "it." That's what makes my own career one I truly enjoy.
Wishing you career success in 2012!