However, if you are not happy with the work you do or with your situation, that means you spend at least eight hours every day doing something you don’t like, being in a place you don’t want to be, or feeling guilty because you are not being proactive about your job search.
If this is true for you, it’s time to stop the complaining and start doing something about it. I know it’s easier said than done, but your challenge is to be able to see the opportunity in these types of situations.
We all have a number of excuses and fears that we allow to play an important role in our lives. They are the well-known “yes, but… I’m too old, too young, I can’t change my mind now, I don’t have enough experience or education, it’s too late, I’m too far into my career”, and so forth. You can find as many excuses as you want to.
All these excuses allow you to avoid leaving or stretching the comfort zone you are so comfortable in. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of stories about people who found what they wanted to do in spite of all those excuses. But those excuses can get in the way of trying to get that position you know you would love, starting that business you have in mind, changing your career or applying to that lab you would love to join.
In the end, it’s not a matter of excuses but of fear, and fear can be paralyzing. There are different types of fears, and your first step is to identify exactly what it is you are scared of. These are the most common types of fears:
• Fear of change. Almost no one likes changes. It usually is a cause of stress, and some people would rather put off what they really want than face any type of change. However, changes are not necessarily bad, they might bring you a lot of great things (you probably have examples of occasions in which a change turned out well). On the other hand, people are very adaptable. This is something to keep in mind, that we quickly adjust to new circumstances and consider them normal.
• Fear of the unknown. Sometimes is difficult to face the unknown, and the result is that you stick with your current circumstances even if you don’t like them, even if you know anything would be better. You are used to them, you can handle them, and that’s easier than making the leap.
• Fear of making mistakes. We all make mistakes, we are human beings. Mistakes can teach us important lessons, and contrary to what you might think, the problem is not the mistake itself, but what you do about it. And you can always do something, so stop worrying about making a mistake, almost everything has a solution.
• Fear of success. A lot of people have a fear of the negative consequences of success, the supposed emotional sacrifices it will bring. You’ll become a snob, selfish, materialistic. You won’t have time for your loved ones nor for yourself… Here is the thing, you have more control over your life than you want to admit, you can always decide what your priorities in life are, and that includes your free and family time. Another thing to take into account is that success (and/or money) won’t make you a bad person if you are not one.
• Fear of making the wrong decision. Making decisions make some people crazy. You want to make the best decision. You don’t want to make a mistake that you will regret forever. Right? Wrong. Perfectionism is not going to help. You don’t need the perfect decision but a good enough one that aligns with your values. Again what is important is how you handle the consequences of the decision. Most decisions (especially career related decisions) are not a life sentence! You can almost always change your mind.
• Fear of failure. So what if you fail? You’ll learn a lesson and succeed next time. Even the most successful people have failed at some point. This is how life works. The only thing you need to take into account is that failure is not bad. It is a stepping stone to your success.
• Fear of not being good enough. You are scared of the high responsibility and expectations, of not being able to do it as well as you should, or of not being able to from then on succeed at everything you do. If you have been selected for that kind of position, it is because you are a good fit for it. Do you think the employer would offer the job to someone unable to do it?
Everyone has experienced one or more of these fears in their life, it’s completely normal. Find out which one is holding you back. It’s important to clearly identify what your main fear is, so that you can not only rationalize it, but try to find things that will make you feel better. For instance, if you are scared of failure, maybe having a plan b will make you feel better.
The second thing to do is to consider the worst case scenario. Ask yourself what would happen if….? And what would happen then? …. So what? For instance, “what would happen if you were not good enough for the job?” I would be fired. “What would happen if you were fired?” I’d feel terrible but I guess I’d find another job. “So what?” I guess I would be OK.
In most cases, the feared outcome wouldn’t be as bad as you anticipate, and you would certainly survive. If you have a clear picture of what you want, and a strategy with specific and attainable goals, you’ll be able to take one step after another and, little by little, move forward in spite of your fears. You don’t even have to overcome them, just keep moving forward.
Don’t let your fears and excuses make you settle for something you don’t want nor enjoy. You have the right to enjoy your job.