Most of us get “stuck” at some point in our careers. We’re not happy where we are, but we don’t know how to get to where we want to be. We’ve tried a few things we thought might help us get the results we want – we took a colleague’s advice, sent out some resumes, did some networking or attended a seminar – but here we are, still doing a job we don’t love or waiting for a promotion. We settle for collecting a paycheck, count our blessings and hope our luck changes.
If you’ve been here before, you may have Googled a few motivational articles about goal setting or achieving your goals. Experts tell us that if we don’t have a plan, we are planning to fail. They say it’s important to set goals, create a strategy, stay focused and not give up. There’s a lot of good advice out there, and it’s certainly worth reading. But in my experience, there are two fundamental reasons why we sometimes fail to achieve our goals that no amount of goal-setting can overcome.
1. We are risk-averse.
We all fear the unknown to a certain extent, but sometimes we sabotage our careers because we are secretly afraid of the unknown risks hiding behind new opportunities. Too often, we are willing to put up with a fair amount of frustration and unhappiness in a current situation just to avoid the discomfort of making a change.
We wait for all conditions to be absolutely perfect and stress-free before we make our move. This type of thinking is irrational. You can’t improve your circumstances without accepting a little risk. In order to achieve our goals, we have to embrace the unknown, rather than fearing it. Stop thinking about the pot holes and focus on the finish line.
2. We need to change ourselves first.
Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we are unaware that our skills, experience or knowledge are not (yet) aligned with what we’re trying to achieve. If you’ve had several interviews and no job offer, or if you’ve been passed up for a promotion at work, swallow your pride and ask for the reasons why.
You may discover that a certain certification or more experience in a particular area will make you a more competitive candidate. Perhaps your resume or interviewing skills need improvement. In all likelihood, there are actions you can take to improve your odds of success, and the sooner you know the better. People often talk about the external reasons they’re stuck – the economy, the competition – when they should be more focused on themselves.
Leap and the Net Will Appear
A popular quote goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” You really can be who you want to be and achieve your goals, but first, you have to embrace the personal changes that your goals require. Once you do that, nothing can stop you, and you’ll be ready to live by my favorite maxim by John Burroughs: “Leap and the net will appear.”