Jen saw a gap in her industry, and an opportunity to start a business. She presented the idea to a safe group of peers in her network. They loved the idea and encouraged her to take the next step in building her plan and researching alternatives.

Jen presented her plan one month later: research, fee structure, marketing strategies, and timeline. She completed her presentation by shrugging her shoulders and saying:

“I have never done this before and I’m not sure it will work, or people will pay me for it. I told a few potential clients they were lucky to be my guinea pigs, and wasn’t quite sure what to charge them. Strangely, I haven’t heard back from them. I’ll follow up tomorrow.”

Jen was met with confusion and stares. What had started as a well-received great idea, was now met with silence.

I see this over and over again. When I’m asked why some people succeed in their careers – seemingly quite easily – and some don’t, I mention a few specific behaviors. Bottom line, we are our own worst obstacles. Yes, there are times that the industry, the market, or unsupportive people can get in the way of our success. And yet, I wager 90% of the time, WE have the ability to generate change and success in our favor.

The seven factors below have a great impact on our careers. AND we are in control of each one.

Take the reins on your career today!

  1. Distinguish the inner critic’s voice from your own. Jen’s inner critic spoke to her first potential clients by telling them she hadn’t done this before and so didn’t know what to charge them. The truth is she hadn’t done this work before, however, she HAD done her research, and anticipated what the market would tolerate. The inner critic speaks to you with a goal to protect you. His voice comes from the most primitive part of the brain whose purpose is to prevent you from being caught by a saber tooth tiger. I feel very comfortable in guessing that you are not being chased by a pre-historic animal these days. When you do hear that critic’s voice, distinguish what is real, and what is a lie.
  2. When confidence takes a dip, take action. We all go through phases, days, and hours, where our confidence takes a dip. There are specific triggers that do this, typically individuals or tasks. Notice when that happens so you can anticipate. Action always builds your confidence back up. Your confidence will evaporate without working to keep it high.
  3. Don’t ruminate when you make a mistake. You will not advance, succeed (your way) without mistakes. Learn from them. Have you ever lost sleep over something and the next day felt better about it? I never Instead, don’t waste your precious sleeping hours or energy. Rather, think about the mistake or challenge three times –
    • First, to review
    • Second, to learn what you will do differently next time
    • Third, to find the funny or unexpected
  4. Stop blaming others. One of my favorite clients shared her father’s great advice, ‘When you point your finger at others, there are 3 fingers pointing right back at you.’ Take ownership and responsibility for your actions, mistakes, and most importantly successes!
  5. Set boundaries. On your time. On your resources that matter most to you. You decide what is a priority for you. Do not allow others to make their priorities your own. (With the exception of a senior person on your team, or a client/customer, you can always talk it through with them to truly understand their timeframe.)
  6. Minimize the weak leadership language. This is my biggest pet peeve! Don’t undermine yourself by using weak leadership language– apologizing when it isn’t necessary, giving others reason not to listen to you or trust your knowledge and experience.
  7. Go into discomfort. It is easier, safer, more comfortable to say with what we know and like. When you want to learn, progress, or reach a new goal, you need to venture into discomfort mode. Do not panic, but rather be a little scratchy. Jen came out of her comfort zone to share her new idea. She researched and planned in her discomfort zone. When it came time to close the deal with potential clients, she retreated to her comfort zone and shied away from quoting prices she knew were appropriate.

You are the biggest boulder in your path. Where and when are you getting in your own way? Where are you holding yourself back? Start noticing these things so that you can instead be the rocket for your career, and not the boulder in the path.