Stories are powerful ways of helping us understand the world. The most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves about how things work. Consider the following:
- My career is already decided vs my career is open to change.
- I am willing to experiment in a variety of career paths vs I need consistency in a career path.
- I need clear goals to work hard vs I work hard despite uncertainty.
These stories we tell ourselves come from beliefs we have about the world. They provide us with a structure that defines the world of work. They can help us move forward or they can hold us back. Like a pane of glass, they frame our vision of the world; helping or hindering the little things we do each day.
Career beliefs come in all shapes and sizes. They are the things we tell ourselves that help to propel us forward (“I know I can find or create the work I like”). They can also freeze up our actions (“There are no opportunities for someone like me who…”).
Beliefs affect many areas of our work, such as:
- Finding an appropriate work role fit
- Rebounding after a layoff
- Dealing with job burnout
- Negotiating for a promotion
- Getting along with a boss and coworkers
If you notice a phrase you tell yourself on a regular basis, consider simply “observing it” for a few days. To start, don’t try to change it, become familiar with it. Ask, what is this believe trying to say? Where does it come from? Without judgement, allow you to identify and name what this belief is about. How is it impacting your worklife?
You can start to change and evolve your beliefs. Consider changing some of the key words in your narrative:
- Change “but” to “and”
- Change “can’t” to “won’t”
- Changes “have” to “choose”
The next step is to consider taking action or letting it go. To take action you can:
- Look for new information
- Get support
- State your needs clearly
- Ask yourself what I am doing that is a problem
- Examine your own commitment
- Change your behaviour
Letting go is a very powerful process, consider:
- Asking if the situation is the way it is for a reason
- Asking what you can learn from the situation
- Listening more to others
- Practicing serenity
- Identifying what good can come from this.
Balancing actions with the process of letting go is powerful. You can practice these steps with new situations and empower yourself to experience greater joy in the work that you do!
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Photo courtesy of Zach Dischner