In my time coaching professionals, I’ve identified several factors that commonly keep people stuck in work roles, and even careers, that no longer suit them. Although for the individual this trap feels real and limiting, there are always options, but it can be difficult for them to see the possibilities themselves.
Over the years I’ve worked with many smart, hardworking professionals to help them recognise their options and understand the factors stopping them from embarking on their new chapter.
Some of the things that could be keeping you stuck are:
A GP rang to find out about my coaching services. I was shocked at the vehemence with which she spoke of hating her job. Aged 45 she said she’d “always hated it”. Originally forced into it by parental pressure and her own fear of failure she continued to endure it mainly for the sake of money. As a single parent, she felt trapped by her need to earn a certain amount. With regular 10 to12 hour days she had already been burned out and spoke of just about keeping herself out of burnout currently. All in all, it sounded a very unhappy and unhealthy place to be.
Money can be a trap. When I did a demanding FT senior job, I spent money keeping myself fit for work; holidays, clothes, M&S ready meals, wine, gym etc. After I re-prioritised to work half time for half the income, I was pleasantly surprised to feel as rich as a king. With a better work-life balance and employment that suited me well I needed much less money. It doesn’t have to be either/or of course. These days I go for both. However, if you let it, money can be a trap, preventing you from risking change and ultimately from experiencing a rich, happy and fulfilling life.
2) Undervaluing yourself
This is a common trap for many diligent women and men, who go to the nth degree to do a good job for their employer/clients/business but don’t appreciate how good they are. They criticise themselves and take for granted their talents and expertise. They don’t see what transferrable currency they have to negotiate new conditions in the job they’re in, find a different job or succeed at something completely different.
“For 16 years in my career I have been told 'you don't realise how good you are' and never really believed it or understood exactly what was meant by this comment. With Sarah's help, I have been challenged and really had my doubts and insecurities unpicked, doubts I didn't even know I had.
I am now capable of self-coaching whenever I am in a situation when I start to lack confidence or doubt my ability. I use the techniques I learned regularly to give me confidence and self-belief to be able to successfully and confidently deliver and deal with any challenge.
I have had the biggest realisation that my own self-limiting beliefs are the only thing stopping me achieving anything...and I really do feel now that anything is possible. My confidence and self-belief has gone to another level.”
3) Fear of making a change
When you’ve been in a familiar job for years, perhaps even decades, you’re in a comfort zone, aka a rut. Your confidence in making a change may be so low you think about it but don’t believe you can do it. Often people fear what their peers, colleagues or friends will think too. In this world, fear is culturally accepted, indeed encouraged. Faith, on the other hand, is shunned as irresponsible.
“My friends will be jealous/think I’m mad/ not want to know me anymore/ think I’m a show-off/too big for my boots”
4) Not knowing what to do for the best
When you’re changing from a secure well-paid or otherwise “comfortable” job, the stakes can feel high. Speaking to one woman recently she said “I’m not where I think I should be in my career, I want to be higher up. I’m feeling the pressure to make the right decision, to get it right this time but I don’t know what that is or how to go about it.”
“If I start something new now I’ll lose what I’ve built up. I’ll have to start from ground zero”
“It has to be perfect straight away”
5) Time shortage
Sue is typical of many clients. She works long hours in a pressured environment. On weeknights, she goes to bed early so that she can get through the next day. She spends weekends recovering from her week and bracing herself for the week ahead. She’s stuck in this cycle and has been for years.
Not only was she unable to participate in life’s enjoyment, but she was also neglecting self-care and putting herself at risk of burnout. Her early coaching sessions helped her prioritise herself and carve out time to work on creating her new chapter.
Do you recognise your own situation here? Do any of these factors resonate with you?
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