By the end of December, I usually just want to fast-forward to the new year. Especially this year. What’s done is done, and l just want get to the fresh start part. Each year I naively think my career will look like the upper half of the drawing above – an ever so slight uphill journey with no roadblocks, no speed bumps and no speeding tickets.
But life has a way of testing us. Or maybe just a great sense of humor. I’m not sure which. But what I do know is that the Universe will keep bringing us different versions of the same problems until we’ve learned the lesson. And this weekend just happens to be one of the best times of the year to reflect on those lessons.
This post provides a different view at what’s holding your career back. And the steps to releasing it. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to uncover the wisdom needed to navigate 2017 with ease.
Are you in? Good. Let’s get started….
The best place to begin is to familiarize yourself with blog posts one and two in this career GPS series. “G” is for growth; it’s about understanding yourself and what’s deeply important to you. “P” is for positioning; once you know yourself you can choose how to communicate this to the world. And “S” is for success.
Sounds lovely, right? But if you’ve been at this career game for a while you know that your desire for success doesn’t always match reality. Why?
Samantha from blog post one, was stalling. But she did the work. She’s aware of who she is. She ticked through all the personal branding and positioning tasks. She really wanted a new job. So why, on December 31st, is she in the same place professionally as she was twelve months ago?
She moved from stalling to stuck. What gives?
Often the rush of energy needed for something new doesn’t come from adding more skills, more accomplishments, more money, more expertise to your plate. You are already enough. It comes from removing what does not belong there to begin with.
Let me explain. Nothing new can grow when there is no space. Gardeners must till the soil before planting a new crop. Artists must start with a clean slate. And, running with the GPS analogy, drivers can’t reach their destination if there is a bunch of rubble or a barricade in the middle of the road. In the spirit of helping you navigate 2017 with more ease, here’s how you can release what might be blocking your career success.
3 steps to navigating 2017 with more ease
Step 1: Clear a couple hours to look in the rear view mirror of your career.
Sometimes blocking time to reflect is the hardest part for people. We tend to want to move quickly to the next thing and brush what’s already happened aside. But if this becomes a pattern, we are overlooking gems of wisdom.
Go somewhere without distraction. No in-law obligations, no spousal honey-do list, no kids beckoning you. Just you, your favorite coffee bar, and your laptop or pen and paper.
Step 2: Scrutinize the following blockers pivoting on your career.
Career blockers can come in many different disguises but I’ve found that they group into three main areas. And they’re not what you’d expect. Here’s the trick: don’t problem solve, don’t judge. Just get curious with a goal to uncover what is true.
Let’s zoom in.
The first is physical. This one makes sense on a road trip…a rock slide, a barricade, a flat tire. But from a personal or career perspective, do you have physical or environmental “weight” cluttering up your path?
Do any of these resonate?
- Environmental – An avalanche of paper overwhelming (you and) your office, desk, home, workplace
- Your body – Are you slowed by injury, illness or even suffering from that extra 15 pounds of weight?
- Online – Where does your inbox fall on the clear to cluttered scale? What about social media accounts, files or document organization?
If you constantly find yourself surrounded by physical or environmental clutter, cleaning it up can be transformational. Removing or purging what is no longer needed provides space for new ideas and clarity to emerge.
The second blocker is mental. This one is unexpected but powerful for most people. Stuck feelings, beliefs and thoughts hold some amount of energy and can cloud our vision. Ask someone who has gone through a divorce or has lost someone they love. Seriously, don’t skip this part.
Here are a few to journal on:
- Feelings – What fears or doubts are you holding onto? Do you harbor anger from a past experience? Are you holding resentments or judgments about another person? What would open up if you let go of being right? Where can you forgive?
- Beliefs – We all have beliefs that serve us, and those that don’t. If you’ve done the homework from post one, you are at least somewhat aware of limiting beliefs that are holding you back. What’s the biggie? Who would you be without this belief? And if you’re not sure, do you self-sabotage? If so, where?
- Thought patterns – Are you a chronic worrier? Or Debbie/David Downer? What thoughts are on the rinse & repeat cycle in your brain?
When fear, anxiety, doubt, self-sabotage or worry are prevalent, this may be a sign that you need to take heed or perhaps move into action. But if mental blockers are stalling or even hijacking you from productive work, notice them and ask yourself whether they are serving you. This is the first step.
The last blocker is behavioral. Sometimes we can get so set in our ways it’s hard to change. But you accepted the mission, right? So let’s keep going.
Consider the following areas:
- Ineffective habits – Do you find yourself consistently getting defensive? Always being right? Hiding, withdrawing or backing down? Procrastinating? Gossiping? Finding yourself in the center of drama even though you try to escape it?
- Coping (aka unhealthy patterns) – Are you addicted to the rush of stress? Finding yourself polishing off that 4th glass of wine tonight? Heading to the vending machine – again? Or numbing out by binge watching Netflix?
If you find this exercise difficult, ask someone you know well and trust. We can be blind to our own blockers. Believe me, your significant other, your best friend, your kids or your boss will have an opinion.
When these types of behaviors become the norm, take a step back and ask why. The brain loves patterns; they save energy. But unfortunately, the brain is not selective. Finding yourself in a go-to pattern of stress may not be productive or appealing logically, but when it becomes predictable, it is “safe”. Your ability to disassociate and determine whether a particular behavior is serving you is the first step to positive change.
After you’ve taken time to reflect on the above areas, answer this last question:
What would you be most relieved to release?
Step 3: Choose what you do want.
Here’s what I mean by this… If you remove something, nature has a way of refilling the space. It’s the same in your brain, and it’s the same in your career. So it’s critical that you choose and design what you want. If you give up all the Netflix binge watching, what will you do instead? If you let go of worry, what do you want to think about?
Be intentional. What does success look like to you? Break it down. Walk through each hour of a successful day, week, month. Write it down.
The mission you chose to accept was navigating 2017 with more ease. And although the past years may have felt like mission impossible, remember that you are the author of your 2017 story. When you remove the chains that are holding you back, your career will be navigated with more ease.
Take five seconds to self-destruct your blockers.