What opportunities do you see?
When we are 18 years old, the number of career choices in front of us is overwhelming. We are starting from scratch and can choose just about any direction. When we graduate from college, we want to build a career in a field that corresponds to our education. Over time, we look to move up the organizational chart and the number of opportunities we perceive keeps getting smaller and smaller. We want to leverage the experience and expertise we gained so we don’t even consider opportunities that seem out of the box.
If you are passionate about what you do and you find your work fulfilling, congratulations! The decisions you made in the past are still serving you well. However, if your heart is no longer in it and you feel stuck, I urge you to re-think what is possible for you. The degrees you earned and the experience you gained are meant to help you, not limit you. Please realize that you are still more than capable of learning new things and becoming an expert in areas that aren’t familiar to you now.
What’s next for you?
Let yourself dream for a moment. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? You are not the same person you were twenty years ago. You’ve lived, you’ve learned, you’ve evolved, and now it’s time for a new chapter in your career.
Maybe it’s time to believe in yourself enough to dare to pursue an intimidating position, because even though you doubt yourself occasionally, deep down you know you’re ready. Or maybe you need to give yourself permission to try something different entirely.
Stop rationalizing and defending why you can’t or why you shouldn’t try something outside your comfort zone. Being courageous doesn’t mean being reckless. You can choose to challenge yourself to grow and become the professional you want to be, without putting yourself at risk. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Some limitations aren’t real
Mid-career, it’s common to have a skewed perception of what we bring to the table. We tend to feel highly competent where we have the most experience, and incompetent where we don’t have much experience. It makes sense because the more we practice something, the more we learn, and the better we become at it. But if you haven’t had a chance to develop a particular skill, it doesn’t mean you are weak in this area. It only means you need to practice and develop this competency. Don’t let what you haven’t learned yet become an obstacle. It is an opportunity!
Similarly, it’s common to have taken assessments (e.g. DiSC, MBTI, or StrengthsFinder) and feel limited by the results. Please remember that these assessments are here to help you understand yourself better, but they are not a life sentence! For example, even if you naturally tend to be dominant in meetings, you can learn to slow down, listen more, and create a safe space for others to express their ideas. Even if you are an introvert, you can become comfortable with public speaking and interacting with crowds. Even if you are someone who gives more importance to facts and accuracy than relationships, you can develop more sensitivity to how other people think, feel more empathy and compassion, and improve your professional relationships. You can always grow and become a better version of yourself.
Please make a list of the limitations you think you have. Ask yourself, what are your reasons (excuses?) for not pursuing what you really desire in your career? If you look at your list with full honesty, you’ll have to admit that most of your limitations can be overcome, and in fact, many are not even real.
The reasons (excuses?) people have for not doing something new, have very little to do with reality, and much to do with their own belief systems and habits. People who seek predictability and certainty will find an unlimited list of reasons not to try. On the other hand, those who have learned to be more comfortable with the unknown will be less focused on problems and more on solutions.
Henry Ford’s quote “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right” sums it up. Your chances of success depend on your beliefs. The good news is that beliefs can be changed (ask me how).
You can’t wait any longer
Can you relate to any of these situations?
When you see someone living “your” dream, you can envious.
When someone gets or accomplishes something you want, and you think they are less competent or less deserving than you are, you get upset.
When you witness the absence of what you want in your current life, you feel pain and regret.
You often feel frustrated at your current job.
You are easily irritated by other people’s behaviors, especially when they don’t meet your expectations.
You don’t have the opportunity to express your full potential and you feel undervalued.
If any of these statements resonate with you, you need to realize that the only difference between you and the people who have succeeded at the thing you want is that they took action. They decided to be courageous and just do it! You may be more deserving or more qualified than them, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you stop waiting and you reclaim control of your professional life.
It’s time to stop playing small, stop clinging to predictability, believe in yourself, find the courage to do uncomfortable things, and live without regret. Being optimistic is a good start but it won’t be enough to create the success you deserve. Make sure to create the structure and get the resources you need. I invite you to click here to schedule a complimentary call with me to discuss how we can join forces and make your professional dream a reality.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, and online courses. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.