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Career Development

4 Mental Blocks Preventing You From Landing Your Dream Job (and How To Get Over Them)

General Assembly
September 11, 2015
4 Mental Blocks

In today’s ever-changing economy, searching for a job is hard work. The number of jobs, types of jobs, and even pathways into jobs are transforming at a pace that can feel impossible to keep up with. Add the desire to find a career that feels meaningful and fulfilling, and the job search can becoming a maddening task.

The path to a successful job search often starts with your own mindset. Consider how you think about yourself, your options, and the process to landing a job. These answers will help you form the foundation for the results you can achieve.

As a coach, educator, and practitioner, I work with clients to help them overcome common mental hang-ups that may be preventing them from landing their dream job.

Below are four of the negative mindsets that I see most often, and strategies you can use to overcome them.

1. “I’m not good enough.”

Are you denying your most valuable ideas, strengths, or ambitions for fear that they are not good enough? I find this mental block comes up all the time, particularly because the qualities that are most natural to you are often the very thing you brush off for being too obvious or not enough.

For example, I’ve always loved learning about others and asking them about their ideas, lives, and ambitions. My “listening skills” were never something I deemed as being important to my career. Finally, I started to realize that my listening skills were a valuable asset that set me apart from the crowd. It was a lightbulb moment that inspired an entirely new direction in my career—coaching.

While you may be too close to see the value in your own ideas, strengths or insight, they matter— don’t let your inner critic tear them down. You want to build a career off of what comes naturally to you. So it’s time to stop writing off these natural talents. Pay attention to the things that give you energy throughout your week, stop and listen to your quiet insights, and make a note when someone compliments you on something that seems silly or obvious to you. Start considering these “duh-worthy” insights as you think about the direction or roles you pursue in your career.

2. “That kind of job doesn’t exist.”

It is easy to believe that an amazing role built around your strengths is a pipe dream. Yet have you ever had a light bulb moment when you found out someone landed a career you couldn’t have imagined? New jobs are created all the time, particularly in the today’s job economy. It is simply not possible to know all the options that are out there. If you are mentally boxing yourself in by believing that the job you might love could never exist…stop yourself! The wisdom that “we only see what we believe” is powerfully true. You can help yourself greatly by adopting the belief that the best roles or opportunities come into being through creative exploration and evolution. It may not exist just yet, but it certainly could be developed to be viable. The seeds for fascinating work are rooted in an openness to opportunity, and allowing ideas the chance to grow. As you think about your job options, consider the possibilities first, not the constraints, and begin your career exploration from there.

3. “But I don’t know if…”

I find myself saying this all the time, and as soon as I say this sentence I get ready to let the idea on my mind drop. But let’s not kid ourselves. We are not knowers of all things in the universe. It is impossible to have all the answers to the questions that will come up along the way, and we can’t know whether our ideas will work until we try them. The next time you catch yourself heading toward this dead end statement, ask yourself how you can get outside of your own head to find an answer. Can you try an experiment? How about seeking out an expert to ask, or posing the question to Google or Facebook? Survey your friends, or even talk to strangers. Tap into your creativity to explore it further, just be sure you don’t stop considering the idea because “you don’t know.” You are bound to come up with far more insight through the pursuit of an answer than you would with the limited data that resides in your own mind (no offense … we’re all in the same boat).

4. “I’m not getting results.”

Are you expecting a 1-2-3 step guide or an exact recipe for “Your Fulfilling Career?”  If so, time to reconsider how you view the pathway there. This is is a process and an evolution, not a five step delivery to perfection. If it were easy, every person on earth would have found jobs they love. I find it helpful to move past the “no go” results that you aren’t happy with by believing in iteration. “Pivoting” is not a concept just for startup founders, it applies to your life too. Accept that you may need to change course, shift your approach, or develop a new direction altogether along the way. Each time you reset, you have greater insight, experience, and awareness to zero in and guide your way in a better direction. Nothing is wasted effort. The energy you invest in will always return back to you in interesting ways. If you are willing to to keep going, there is no doubt you will evolve your way into surprising and exciting results.

To sum up, adopting these four attitudes will get you bypassing your mental barriers in no time:

  • Focus on what comes naturally to you. Don’t write things off because they seem too obvious. Track your energy to observe new insights about what you truly enjoy.
  • Seek out the possibilities first, not the constraints. Just because it doesn’t exist in your view now doesn’t mean it can’t so give your ideas a chance to grow.
  • Experiment your way into insight, you don’t have to know the answer first in order to get started.
  • Resilience will get you through. Learn to see the process as an evolution, and you will be much happier and effective.

In parting, I’ll leave you with a favorite quote from the brilliant Joseph Campbell as fitting inspiration for your career journey:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, it is not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take.”

Happy job hunting!

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