This is the dilemma I have observed in a number of clients over my years as a career coach. Clients who are frustrated in their current roles for a variety of reasons, clients who are looking for a greater connection with their work, but doubt whether it is really possible to find a career they will enjoy and find more fulfilling and earn their desired income.
Perhaps it’s something you personally struggle with and maybe you are desperate to take your career in a different direction but don’t truly believe it is possible at this time, because you can’t afford to take a pay cut?
This is typical of what is known as a limiting belief or an unhelpful belief. A perspective we have about something which we have cemented over time by focusing on evidence that supports it and ignoring evidence that contradicts it.
For instance, maybe you have developed over time a view that people who are earning big bucks don’t enjoy their jobs and that they are miserable. Or high earning jobs only exist in professions you aren’t interested in. Or to earn the big money you have to work ridiculous hours and sacrifice your personal life.
For many people, a belief can feel like a truth; that it is a fact. However, if someone else has a differing perspective then it is a belief.
Beliefs are built up over time. As we go about our lives we observe and experience and select data that we feel is relevant and disregard information that isn’t. We apply meaning to this data and start to make assumptions that we are correct in our thinking and as a result we internalize them to be beliefs.
Every time you come across a situation that complies with your belief it is reinforced, and every time we come across a situation that contradicts it we either subconsciously turn a blind eye or just put it down to a fluke or luck.
Now, these same limiting beliefs may have been helpful in the past. For example, it may have pushed someone to take on more responsibility in a job because they wanted more money and it enabled them to pay off their student debts and get on the property ladder. But it can reach a point when it becomes unhelpful and keeps them stuck, by choosing to accept the belief as fact that they can’t find a job they love and earn decent money they are sabotaging their progress.
If we aren’t aware of our limiting beliefs they can have the ability to stop us from taking action. Understanding what beliefs we hold onto which may be an obstacle in our path is a critical part of a career change.
How can we uncover our limiting beliefs and start to challenge them?
What is your but? – This is a technique I often use with clients to help them uncover limiting beliefs. (This can be used for any objective you have which you may be struggling to make progress with) When considering the following question write down all the variations that your mind conjures up.
I would love to XXXX but YYYY.
For example, I would love to change careers but I don’t believe I can find something I will enjoy and be able to earn enough.
The words that follow the ‘but’ can start to highlight your limiting beliefs.
Pick one that perhaps feels the most debilitating for you.
Consider why you have this belief - Capture all the reasons you can think of, including things that may have happened in your past.
Open your eyes - Now we need to start to open our eyes to the evidence we may have missed which contradicts our belief. Write down all the evidence you can think of which undermines this view that you have been holding on to.
Shine a light on how this belief negatively impacted you. - List all the ways in which it has held you back. As you create this list notice how it makes you feel – perhaps sad, frustrated or angry? Now capture what would you be able to do if you were able to let go of this belief so you can really appreciate how it’s sabotaging your progress.
Does this belief have any substance? - Before we are ready to let go of this belief is there any value we need to give it. Over the last 12 months, what evidence is there to support your limiting belief? And is there any new learning or action we need to take?
Right size the fear. - What is the situation or outcome you fear most tied to this limiting belief? Write down what is the worst thing that could happen if you take action to make a change? For example, maybe your fear is not being able to pay the bills and the worst thing that could happen is you find yourself homeless.
Now consider what is the likelihood of the worst thing happening? Would you let it get that far?
Working through your plan B –Thinking through our plan B or action we can take to mitigate your worst-case scenario can help us to feel more comfortable with moving into the unknown. In our example, it may be that a plan B involves calculating what is the minimum income you require to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head. Or looking at other ways in which you can make money while you transition.
Isolate your limiting belief – Now you are aware of your limiting belief, act as if it no longer has any control over you and start to identify one or two small steps you can take to move forward on your career change or any change that you are working on. Commit time in your schedule to work on these actions, share them with someone and ask them to hold you accountable. Start the journey by getting out of your head and taking action.
If you are struggling to let go of your own limiting beliefs and would like support to work through them, book in for a free introductory call. Together we will go deeper and explore if we are a good partnership and how I could help you take control of your career.
If you found this blog useful why not check out these.
- 5 Actions to take now if you think a career change might be the answer
- Should I speak up or shut up? (when something isn’t right at work)
- Is now the right time to ask for a pay increase?