“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right” Henry Ford
It’s easy to think that choosing your next career step is all about taking career aptitude tests, searching for job vacancies and filling out ever-growing application forms.
Yes, that does come into it, but not until way further down the line.
Before you even put pen to paper to explain why you’re great at teamwork, you need to do some work to shift your mindset (if you really want to choose a career that you’ll love.)
Why is this?
Because if choosing a career that’s right for you was easy, everyone would be in one. It takes self-reflection, self belief and focus.
If you’re currently in a job that you hate and are feeling stuck and frustrated, don’t start by looking at job vacancies, start with yourself.
Because to get a different life, you need to do things differently.
“ If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Unknown
Your mindset is a great place to start this change. It’s something that you can control and has far reaching consequences.
This quote summarises it perfectly:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” Gandhi
Here are 9 mindset shifts to make before you choose your path:
1. Believe in yourself
This is number one for me. If you don’t believe that you can be successful at making a career change, you won’t have any incentive to make any of the other mindset shifts on this list.
To start with, you don't need to be fully convinced about your capabilities. You just need that small, hopeful part of you to believe that it's possible.
But as time goes on and the challenges ahead of you get greater, you need to start really believing in yourself.
If you don't, you’ll start holding yourself back and will weaken your chances of making a successful career change happen.
“There is a difference between WISHING for a thing and being READY to receive it. No one is ready for a thing, until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be BELIEF, not mere hope or wish. Open-mindedness is essential for belief.” Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
So how do you start to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve something?
Here are is a technique that has worked for me. It’s from the Pacific Institute’s Investment in Excellence programme:
1. Create a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Start small so you get used to this process and start believing in yourself.
For me, my first goal was to be able to walk into a room filled with new people and feel excited instead of scared.
2. Close your eyes and visualise it happening the way you want.
Use your 5 senses in the vision. What do you see, smell, hear and taste? Then also, how do you feel?
Visualisation really works. Pro athletes use it everyday to increase their performance. So why can’t you?
3. Write down a sentence that describes what you visualised. Make sure it’s in the present tense, first person and include words that describe how you feel. This is your affirmation.
For example, mine was - “I feel excited about who I’m going to meet as I walk into the room. I calmly approach someone and feel curious about them.”
2. Change how you view failure
I’m starting believe that a person can’t fail completely. You might not hit certain goals or have everything go your way, but just by taking the risk to pursue them you’ve grown as a person and learnt new things - that isn’t failure to me.
This attitude to failure comes with a shift in mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is when you believe that you’re unable to develop any further. You think that you're always going to be good at the things you’re good at now and rubbish at the things that you’re currently bad at!
A growth mindset is approaching life knowing that you can learn and improve your performance in all areas. You know practice and persistence can help you to move forward. If you have a growth mindset you see that with each “failure” you are learning and so getting closer to your goals.
Last year at work, we took some students to a business accelerator so they could have a look around.
On the wall I noticed a handwritten poster that change my thinking on failure. It said, “How many times have you failed this week?” And people had written all of their failures below it, like some sort of strange competition! I loved it!
I loved the idea that the more you fail, the closer you are to success. I’ve since found a pretty cool quote that explains this:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work." Thomas A. Edison
3. See yourself as someone who makes things happen
If you’ve fallen into the common trap of saying you’ll do things and then not following through on them, it’s easy to think that that’s the way things are always going to be for you.
It can really affect your self esteem as you stop believing yourself when you say you're going to do something.
It doesn't have to be this way.
You can start seeing yourself as someone who keeps their commitments to themselves again.
The key is to start small.
1. Make a small commitment to yourself. It could be running once a week, meditating for 5 mins a day or calling your parents on a Sunday.
2. Set a time limit for it that’s realistic for you. Are you going to do it for 30 days? 6 weeks? Or 3 months?
It doesn’t matter the length of time, what’s important is that you stick to it. Once you do, you’ll feel so much better about yourself!
Then repeat the process with something else and your perception of yourself will soon change.
Don’t take on too much at once though. That’s only going to lead to you not enjoying your commitments and make you more likely to struggle to keep them.
“Act on commitments not feelings" Brian Moran and Michael Lennington (The 12 Week Year)
When I read this quote for the first time it shifted my thinking!
I make a lot of decisions based on feelings (and change commitments because of them too.)
This quote made me realise that if I’m really going to believe in my capabilities and achieve what I want to achieve, I need to stick to the commitments that I’ve made (no matter how I feel!)
4. Get clear on WHY you’re doing things (or not)
Make sure you know why you want to make something happen. It’s so easy to get carried away based on what everyone else is doing or what you feel you “should be” doing.
Often you won’t feel great about a goal that you're working on because deep down, it’s not what you want.
Pay attention to those feelings and try to work out why you're feeling them.
Is working on the goal you feel you should be doing, stopping you from doing something else that you really want to do instead?
For example, last year it seemed like ALL of my friends were buying houses (because they all were!). They were encouraging me to do the same but the thought just really depressed me. And at first, I couldn’t understand why.
After thinking about it for a while, I realised that it was because buying a house would make me feel stuck and unable to do all of things that I REALLY wanted to do (like starting a business and living abroad.)
I then realised that not doing those two things, I was keeping myself stuck. So I needed to get on and make them happen!
From now on, when you really want to do something (or don’t want to do something), get to the bottom of why you’re feeling that way. You’ll start to learn a lot more about yourself so you can confidently decide on the direction you want to go in.
5. Get comfortable with creating your own vision
If you really want to choose a path that you love and create a life that’s perfect for you, it’s time to start creating your own vision. Traditional career paths and stale ideas aren’t going to get you where you want to be.
How do you go about this?
If you’re used to doing things the way you’re expected to (graduate college, get a job for life), then creating your own vision for the life you want to live can be tricky. You might catch yourself thinking small. Your big dreams might be shortening the distance of your commute or getting more days of holiday.
It’s time to start using your imagination and (even if starting a business is the last thing on your mind,) thinking entrepreneurially.
- Ask yourself, if I took a little more risk how would my vision look different?
- Imagine money wasn’t a limit, what would your vision you like then?
- What if you had all of the time in the world? What would you like to do?
- Try not to worry about other people’s opinions when you come up with your vision (though I know this is easier said than done).
“Put your foot upon the neck of the fear of criticism by reaching a decision not to worry about what other people think, do, or say.” Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
6. Separate the process of coming up with an idea, to the process of evaluating it
I recently went on a weekend NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) course and learnt this brilliant technique that I couldn’t wait to share with you.
When you’ve come up with an idea for your next career step (or any big idea) follow this 3 step process.
- The first thing to do is stay where you are and dream big about it! Do not think about any problems that might come up. Instead stay positive and allow yourself to be unrealistic for once!
- Next change positions, move to a different part of the room. Now you become the critic. Write down all of the things that could go wrong (if you’re anything like me this is going to be the easiest part!
- Finally change where you are sitting in the room again, to a new, different spot. Now you are the realist. Look at what you wrote down as a dreamer and as a critic and put the two together. Taking into account the critics points, could your dream work? How could you rectify the two and make it work?
GIve it a go and have fun with it!
7. Be compassionate with yourself
This is something that I’ve learnt recently: how you treat yourself makes a huge difference to your success and happiness!
I’ve never been one to say mean things to myself, but I never say kind things either!
I’ve come to see what a huge difference a “you can do this Claudia, you’re doing really well” can make to my mood and my attitude towards challenges.
The language you use with yourself is really important too. It can either empower you or make you feel like a victim. Here are some great examples from "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers:
- I can’t to I won’t
- I should to I could
- Its a problem to it’s an opportunity
- I hope to I know
- What will I do to I can handle it
- Can I? to I will
And see the difference in how you feel!
8. Change how you see fear - it’s never going to go away.
This mindset shift is one that I’ve had for a few years so I’d forgotten about it! That was until one of you lovely readers pointed it out to me again (thank you!)
Fear holds us back and that’s a fact. It’s so tempting to put our dreams on hold until we have overcome all of the fears that stand in our way.
However, one of the “fear truths” that Susan Jeffers wrote about in one of my favourite books, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”, is this:
“The fear will never go away, as long as you continue to grow”.
You can overcome certain fears but once you do you will then come up against new, bigger fears.
So instead of waiting for the fear to completely go away (because it won’t), get started before you feel completely ready.
Take on the smaller challenges that you feel you can achieve (even though they scare you!) As you do this, you’ll soon have the confidence to face the bigger challenges that come your way.
9. Focus your energy on what you can control
Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a brilliant book. I’ve read it once but feel like I need to go back to it about 100 more times to soak up all of the nuggets of wisdom out of it!
One of the seriously simple but effective principles he teaches is to focus your time and energy on your “circle of influence” (the things that you can control). Don’t waste time worrying about things in your “circle of concern” (the things that are out of you control). Doing this will make you lot more proactive and less likely to see yourself as a victim of circumstance.
These circles can apply to things as small as day to day annoyances and as big as world-changing problems!
For example, I get annoyed about my boyfriend not putting the lid back on the toothpaste once he’s brushed his teeth (true story it goes all dry and gross - so not cool).
Getting annoyed at him would be putting my energy in the circle of concern (because I really can’t control what he does, as much as I try to!).
Instead to focus on my circle of influence, I can simply put the lid back on the toothpaste when I see he’s left it off. Or I could get two toothpaste tubes, one for him to ruin and one for me to keep nice!
On a bigger scale, I could be getting really worried about climate change now a certain world leader isn’t sure it exists.
I could spend my energy worrying about the next ridiculous decision he’ll make OR I could focus my energy on what I can control. I can take fewer flights, carbon offset my travel or change to a sustainable energy provider.
See how it works? It feels great and gets rid of a lot my negative thoughts and energy too!
Now it’s over to you!
Choose one of these mindset shifts and give it a go today!