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Adopting the right mindset when making career decisions

January 12, 2022

How has 2022 started for you? I find January a bit mercurial. The excitement of a fresh start jostles with a slight deflation that the year has changed but life resumes just as it was before Christmas. 

Now that’s fine if you’re content with things as they are (and I sincerely hope you are). If you’re in a job that satisfies yet challenges you, great! If you know you’re using your talents in the best way you can, that’s fantastic! But if you’re not, and you’re aware that something needs to change, January can hammer home the realisation that you’re going to have to actually do something to make it happen beyond turning over the calendar. 

When work loses its pleasure 

I know from experience, it’s exhausting to do a job when your heart’s not in it. It’s even harder when your head’s not in the right place. You have to put such energy into maintaining your performance at work, there’s little left to give those at home. Those same “how can I escape?” conversations go round and round your mind and become increasingly weighed down with negative self-talk until you can’t bear the situation and the feelings that come with it. You quit. Or get ill. Or take a job you’re over-qualified for because you’ve lost confidence in your abilities. 

Aggghhh! Stop! I get the picture but what’s the answer?

Pre-empt the downward spiral 

The best time to think about your next role is when you’re flying high in your current one. When your confidence is up, you value what you’ve got to offer and put your best self forwards. 

Keep an eye on your satisfaction. Review things regularly. Ask yourself ‘What am I enjoying?’, ‘What am I achieving?’, ‘What am I learning?’ and if these questions become harder to answer, that’s the time to act. 

But in reality few of us do this, for all sorts of reasons. 

4 steps to shift your thinking 

January or not, if you’ve grown so despondent about your job it’s bringing you down, the priority is to shift your thinking to a more positive mindset, to avoid making decisions driven by negative emotions like guilt, anger and fear. 

Here are 4 steps that will shift your thinking: 

  1. Spot the patterns. Notice the negative things you say to yourself (“I hate this job” “I don’t fit in” “I can’t do this”) and what’s triggered them. 
  2. When you notice the negative thoughts bring yourself into your senses. A walk is great for this. Notice the sound of your steps, tune into birdsong, feel the wind on your face. If you can’t escape for a walk, use your senses where you are: feel the chair seat, hear a voice on the radio, really see the pattern of the carpet. 
  3. Once you’ve centred yourself doing this, think about something you’ve done, you’re happy with or grateful for. This triggers empathy and appreciation which helps you access the more rational thinking part of your brain. 
  4. Now focus your attention on something you can do right now to move you forward, however small. A particularly useful thing is to seek a conversation with someone else to help them move forwards. It seems to help us see our own issues with a new perspective. 
Amplify your empowering, positive voice 

It takes persistent practice, but do this and gradually you’ll notice that the volume on the negative voices goes down and your positive voice gets louder. 

This is a better position from which to take action. You’re more able to brainstorm options, explore solutions and weigh up decisions in a balanced way. 

If you’d like to get better at shifting your mindset so you can deal with life’s challenges more positively, take a look at the 6 week Positive Intelligence® programme I run. 

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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