Your own head is the biggest obstacle to making the changes you want to see in your life. I believe 100% that this is true. I see proof in my own life. When so many things could be done, if only I would have the courage, discipline, motivation… And I see proof when I coach people. The moment we untie that knot in the head, everything becomes easy.
So what is holding you back?
Let’s say you want to progress in your career. You are – at least you say you are – fully committed to make the next step in the coming twelve months.
What should you be doing to make that happen? Maybe you should ask for bigger assignments. Or become more visible in the organisation. You could give presentations to senior management. Another way would be networking. Then there’s actively looking for opportunities or applying to open positions. You could also think about adding more value by helping out in projects that are outside your current role.
You know all these things. And when you talk to people, you swear you are doing everything you can.
But really: What are you doing instead of all the above?
You are not asking for bigger assignments. Maybe you even recommend a colleague instead. You shy away from presenting to senior management or larger audiences. You hate networking, so that’s out. None of the positions that are open fit your profile or they don’t interest you. At least that’s what you say. And, you are way too busy as it is to spend time projects outside your current role.
Bummer. Seems like the world doesn’t want you to progress.
Truth to be told, the world doesn’t care. It has much bigger things on its mind. Who does care is your own brain. It cares so much about keeping you safe that it comes up with plenty of clever reasons not to do the things you really should be doing.
The question you need to ask yourself: Do you want to be in charge or do you want your brain to be?
This is where the good work begins. You need to find out what is keeping you safe. What are the worries and seemingly reasonably rationals for you to avoid getting into action.
When I said “good work” I really meant hard. Because you will feel very uncomfortable doing it. At times you will even feel ashamed of the thoughts in your head. But it’s worth it.
Why don’t you ask for bigger assignments? What is your brain telling you?
“I’m not good enough for that.”
“I don’t know any of that.”
“There are many more people who can do this a lot better.”
“I’m afraid to fail.”
What about the presentations to senior management?
“I don’t want to be in the limelight.”
“My topic is not so important it deserves their time and attention.”
“I always blush and sweat when I give a presentation. That’s embarrassing.”
And why don’t you network?
“Networking is for sleazy people.”
“I’m not interested in other people.”
“No one is as smart as I am, what can they possibly give me?”
“Networking is a waste of time and people take advantage of you.”
Oh, this is fun. Don’t you think so? Keep going with this and you’ll be surprised. Surprised by the incredibly sophisticated ways your brain wants to keep you safe. And by safe it means “Stay right where you are. Don’t move.”.
But that won’t get you anywhere. Or to put it in the words of Dori (Finding Nemo):
“Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
So now that you know why you’re not taking action, it’s time start changing that.
Here are some things you can do:
Run small experiments to see if your assumptions hold true.
Start changing the thoughts that are holding you back into some that propel you forward.
Plan for an action and for what you will do when the time comes and you brain tells you “Noooooo, don’t do that!”.
And on occasion just f-ing do it! (I wrote that sentence everywhere I need to see it. Most of the times it does the trick.)