Career Anxiety Series #3: Fear Success?

Do You Fear Success?

Condition #3: Fear of Success

There is an epidemic sweeping the career world right now–career anxiety. It is evidenced by low job satisfaction and engagement rates and a need for all to dig deep and find resilience in a rapidly changing global economy.   This blog series will be a conversation guided by reader questions and is designed to cure career anxiety and bring you to career clarity.

Question from a reader: I feel like fear is holding me back and I wonder…Is it possible to be afraid of success?

The Cure: Redefine the word “success”

It has surprised me how many of my clients struggle with the fear of success.

For some, this fear stems from being successful in the past and associating success with loss. These losses include lack of privacy, health problems and serious damage to important personal relationships. In this situation, creating a more holistic definition of success for the future is critical.

Then there are people who are afraid to even admit they have been successful in the past. This reluctance may be associated with other things, such as a fear of appearing as an overly preachy parent or sibling who was successful and now feels the need to force their advice on to others. It can also be possible that they may associate success with unappealing qualities such as greed or flamboyance. In some cases, people have held an unconscious fear of success because they believe they will have to distance themselves from their friends, peers or family to reach new heights.

In truth, everyone should create a definition of success that is in alignment with their own values. For one person, success can mean launching a business and becoming a millionaire while another person can define success through being a great friend. For some both are important aspects of success.

Ultimately, it is more difficult to fear success if your own definition of fulfillment is in sync with your talents, purpose and passions. To get you started with creating your own personal goals, here is a definition of success from Ralph Waldo Emerson for some inspiration:

To laugh often and love much,

To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children,

To earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends,

To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of oneself

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived-

This is to have succeeded.

Thank you for your great question and I hope this gives you permission to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if have a specific question I can answer in this series.  My approach to career development is from the inside out; dreams find their freedom and people find their dream jobs.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Sign up for our next free virtual workshop, Careers Inside Out: Make 2015 the Year when Work Works

Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia and consistently provides effective career education, organizational consulting and executive coaching programs To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To schedule a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com

Cure for Career Anxiety Series – #2

shutterstock_1956050-300x199Condition #2: Passionless

There is an epidemic sweeping the career world right now–career anxiety. It is evidenced by low job satisfaction and engagement rates and a need for all to dig deep and find resilience in a rapidly changing global economy.   This blog series will be a conversation guided by reader questions and is designed to cure career anxiety and bring you to career clarity.

Question from a reader: When my manager asked me what my interests at work were in a career development session, I blurted out, “I have no idea.”  Sadly, I feel like I have no passion left and walk around work feeling numb. Can you help?

The Cure: Possibilities

Once, I had a discussion with a client, based in London, who told me that the corporate world had “beaten all the creativity out of her.”  A year after she said that, she left her job in banking and began a new career as a freelance consultant and television producer.  A big part of her process to getting there, required her to revive her natural creative spirit and generate new ideas from that place.

Taking responsibility for your own creative process and not relying solely on an organization can put yourself back in the driver seat of your own career. Whether you want to grow in the job you are already in, change career tracks or jobs or start a business, you probably need new ideas that will inspire you to action. This is often more challenging than people expect, but help is on the way through the 3 P’s of Possibilities, below, which offers questions designed to spark your imagination and get to new ideas you will need for your own career development.

3 P’s of Possibilities:

  1.       Passions
  •      What do you love to make?
  •      What do you love to buy?
  •      What do you love to do?
  •      What moves you to tears?
  •      What ignites your curiosity?
  1.       Problems

What are the problems that intrigue you? (use to list to inspire your own ideas)

  •      Service
  •      Product
  •      Social Issues
  •      Technology
  •      Health
  •      Convenience
  •      Education
  •      Government
  •      Competition
  •      Your own area of interest
  1.       People
  •      Who do you love?
  •      Who do you admire?
  •      Who do you like hanging out with?
  •      Who do you envy and why?
  •      Who do you want to help?
  •      Who is easy for you to serve?
  •      Who do you think you understand best?

Take your time to explore and answer all the questions above thoroughly, keeping in mind those areas of ideas that most excite you. Some of you that are better working in a group, may want to do this exercise with colleagues or friends. Once you have made a concerted effort and explored these ideas deeply, make a list of your top 10 ideas and then choose one or more to investigate that best align with your talents, goals and interests. From there you can create an action plan to put your passions into practice in a practical way such as using them for a school project, a product development process at work and taking actions to start a business plan.

You can also get more inspiration from this TED talk:

Thank you for your great question and I hope this gives you permission to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if have a specific question I can answer in this series.  My approach to career development is from the inside out; dreams find their freedom and people find their dream jobs.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia and consistently provides effective career education, organizational consulting and executive coaching programs To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To schedule a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com

Cure for Career Anxiety Series

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Condition #1: Unhappy/Restless at Current Job

There is an epidemic sweeping the career world right now–career anxiety. It is evidenced by low job satisfaction and engagement rates and a need for all to dig deep and find resilience in a rapidly changing global economy.   This blog series will be a conversation  guided by reader questions and is designed to cure career anxiety and bring you to career clarity.

Question from a reader: I am unhappy and restless in my current job. It’s not a horrible environment, it’s just not something I’m passionate about. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take a leap into something else just yet, because this job pays well and offers security that I doubt I’d find elsewhere. While I still have this job, are there any small steps I can start taking to find something I love?

The Three Part Cure

The best way to get on track to a career you love while you are in a job you do not like, is to dedicate time these three things:

1.    Do the best work you can at the job you have, without overworking so you can leave with your sanity and dignity.

2.    Take care of your emotional and physical health so you have a reserve of energy outside of work.

3.    Spend some of that time and energy dreaming and planning for of a better career future.

Step three is the most important but without one and two as a foundation, you may never get to your vision or dream work. Carve out sacred and focused time each week to ask and answer the following questions:

1.    What are my passions?

2.    What is my purpose?

3.    What would my work life look like, if I did my best to pursue my passions and live my purpose?

I encourage you to experiment with various techniques to help you in this process, such as seeking people who love their work and interviewing them, researching on the web on sites like this, meditation, drawing, writing, exploring new industries, and/or visiting a new city for some inspiration.  Sometimes, people discover their calling by paying attention to their emotions or intuition. You also may gain clarity through talking things over with a coach, friend or adviser. Several clients I have worked with had an epiphany while interacting with nature, exercising, vacationing, and driving or even while watching television!

While clarifying your dream work, and taking steps to created your dream job, the answers to these three important questions will come in and out of focus. Some of you may feel that you have too many ideas. If this is the case, you will need to try one or more on to see if they fit. If one doesn’t fit, you have learned something valuable, and can try something else. If you like multitasking, you will not need to choose just one of idea. We are living at a time when you may be able to piece together several paths to form a career. These are called portfolio careers if done simultaneously, or serial careers if done one-by-one in an overlapping series.

Once you see a clearer vision and choose a direction, it’s critical to take steps to start creating your dream job promptly and boldly so you can move away from your current so-so work environment toward work you love.

Thank you for your great question and I hope this gives you permission to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if have a specific question I can answer in this series.  My approach to career development is from the inside out; dreams find their freedom and people find their dream jobs.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia and consistently provides effective career education, organizational consulting and executive coaching programs To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To request a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com