Archives for career decisions

Pay Attention: 7-Day Challenge to Find Out Who is REALLY in Control of Your Career Decisions

Control by Faramarz Hashemi of Flickr

 

The simple answer is that you are in control of your career decisions, but it does not always feel like that.

You may be one of the people who feel stuck where you are, with little time to tend to a job search, and feel like you are victim to someone else’s whims, waiting and hoping to be identified as a good catch. You feel as though you are not in control because other people you do not know on the other side of a computer screen appear to have power over whether you get the call back or make the cut.

Or, you may not even realize that you are in control, but you are in your own way. You may feel as though there are limits to your success imposed by invisible forces, long-established systems, or other people. Essentially, you stop yourself before you even try. YOU surrender your power, viewing attempts at changing your life as futile. This is harder to recognize, because the thoughts are automatic, based on deep beliefs formed long ago.

Amazingly, not everyone has experienced this. I have interviewed over two dozen people who have achieved EPIC career success for the Epic Career Tales podcast and have found that many of them grew up with few doubts about their success, and a lot of support to follow their dreams. If you are among this crew, it would be challenging to empathize with people who do not just make the changes they need to make in order to achieve happiness, wealth, a better schedule, etc.

This is where I feel most divisions occur. It isn’t easy to walk in someone else’s shoes. It is nearly impossible to say with any degree of accuracy what we would do if we found ourselves mentally bound by our own self-limiting beliefs.

Did you know that if you put chains on an elephant, limiting its mobility, even after the chains are removed that elephant will remain within the limits of the chain anyway? This is proven by circus trainers, who eventually replace metal stakes with wooden pegs. Coincidentally, once the elephant grows big enough and strong enough to rip the tether from the ground, it never even tries, so the metal chains and stakes are overkill.

Last week, LinkedIn founder and CEO Jeff Weiner posted this message, “It’s not so much that people can’t change; they’d prefer not to (change is hard) and we’re rarely in circumstances where it’s truly required.”

It generated quite a bit of quality engagement on the subject of change.

This was my reply:

“The brain actually sabotages most efforts to change, sending our body stress signals to warn of us of ‘danger.’ We have to override it. If you really want to change, create a discipline of recognizing these signals and overriding them. Mel Robbins and John Assaraf are good resources to learn more about the neuroscience around change, and Gretchen Rubin has shared some great insights on habits in Better Than Before.”

If you just said to yourself, “Who’s ‘we?’ Speak for yourself. Change is absolutely required! I need change NOW, thank you very much!”

Then I am giving you an assignment that takes less than five minutes, so that you can test to see why change hasn’t happened yet – is it some awesome force, be it human, systemic, or supernatural, beyond your own power, or is it a belief formed long ago that you have accepted as truth, when it is really a brule (bullshit rule, a la Vishen Lakhiani)?

Your assignment is to take 17 seconds every day for the next week to visualize yourself in the perfect job. I mean PERFECT. DO NOT impose any “reality” on this job. The visualization is just part of the assignment, though. The more critical component of this assignment is to be mindful of your thoughts. Even with just 17 seconds your brain, running on autopilot, will have plenty of time to kick in and start talking to you. Open up a journal and spend two minutes writing down the thoughts you recognized.

Then, spend another two minutes assessing if these thoughts are based on beliefs, and if these beliefs are true. If they are true, then they would essentially have to be true for everyone. If they are not, then they are not true.

These beliefs produce thoughts at every decision point that you may find sabotage you from creating meaningful change in your life, but you take their power away once you recognize them.

A few weeks ago I shared a post, Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss, and made a short list of some of the thoughts that can occur as you have to decide how proactive and assertive you are going to be, which are critical ingredients to landing what you want:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

While you can take their power away by recognizing them, eliminating them is the trickier part. They have been running on automatic for a very long time. Look for an upcoming post on different methods to overriding self-limiting beliefs.

 

In the meantime, please share any revelations resulting from this very short, very do-able assignment.

 

I almost toured with Kings of Leon

Harpers Ferry circa 2007

Harpers Ferry circa 2007

I’ve been in the same band with the same musicians for 13 years. Amy and Anthony D. joined Harpers Ferry in 2000, which was the same year that I met my husband, Tim. I was finally gaining confidence as a singer. I found my voice. But I also found the love of my life. My aspirations of stardom and life on the road had waned.

So a couple months before Tim and I were engaged, when a creepy little manager of a less-than-known-to-me band came into a small Irish restaurant and bar on the back end of King of Prussia and offered me the chance to go on tour with his band, I passed.

I felt like a traitor to my band even sitting with them, since the manager was trying to tell me that his band was a “real” band. They were selling out arenas in Europe. “Okay, so what are they doing here?” I didn’t ask. But we did confirm that the dates coincided with a show that they had done in Philly, so they were probably on their way to their next show. We also later confirmed that this band, Kings of Leon, was indeed selling out arenas in Europe and, what do you know, happened to be the “next big thing,” as the creepy manager had proclaimed.

In the corporate world, you are expected to have at least 48 hours to consider a serious job opportunity, perhaps up to a week if you have to relocate. In the entertainment industry, it’s speak now or forever hold your peace. Though I had humbly turned down the offer that night, I took his number and called him several days later. After I had time to think about it, I considered myself foolish for eliminating that possibility for me. After all, how many people would DIE for that opportunity, whether the band was on their way to US fame or just performing to European crowds of 30,000. By that time, he was probably like, “What chick from what bar? That was five cities ago. Moving on.” I never got a call back.

I told myself that I was at peace with this decision. I had a job that I’ve finally loved in recruiting. I had a boyfriend I was sure would be my husband. I had a band that I loved like a family and enjoyed playing with.

I recently finished the book Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. There is a chapter on how women scale back there career ambitions years before they have to in anticipation of a future family. Lucky for one of my clients, I learned a lot from this decision. She started a new job a couple weeks ago, and is expecting. When she came to me, she highly doubted that in her “condition” she would be employable by anyone else. However she could not continue to work under the current extensive travel conditions of her job, and future potential was limited by a recent acquisition. Though she is finding that on-boarding in a new job while growing a human being inside you is duly exhausting, as Sheryl Sandberg explains, when she returns from maternity leave, she will return to a job that she loves and that fulfills her.

I will always wonder, “What if?” When I hear Kings of Leon on the radio, I will always feel a little haunted. I do consider that the choice was not really between going on tour and staying in recruiting, but rather making a huge career move with a lot of risk, and starting my family. Because I know that my decision led to two beautiful children and hundreds of clients since then who have improved their careers and their lifestyles for the better, I consider that choice a miracle–maker.

Point being, don’t limit your opportunity by what you think might happen in the future. LEAN IN as far as you can for as long as you can.