Often when I talk to women about their career path and how they achieved success, they tell me about the time they held back from applying for promotion. Or when they took a job that wasn’t really what they wanted. Or they volunteered to get involved in a project that wasn’t valued by the business.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Sometimes we sabotage ourselves and our career success … not deliberately, not knowingly, but we do it all the same. Why is that? Two words – limiting beliefs.
Let’s explore what limiting beliefs are and then I’ll share what you can do to stop those limiting beliefs sabotaging your career success.
What are limiting beliefs?
Our thoughts and our beliefs – underpin our feelings. How we feel determines how we behave. Your behaviour and your actions get results. Whether they are the results you want, depends on those underpinning thoughts and beliefs.
That makes sense, doesn’t it.
The thing is … sometimes we are not aware of our beliefs or thoughts – they are unconscious. We have thousands of thoughts going through our heads every day and we are mostly unaware of them.
Beliefs that are not positive or unhelpful are referred to as limiting beliefs because they are limiting your actions and limiting your success.
The good news is that when you identify those limiting beliefs, you can work on them and change your beliefs to something more positive or more helpful.
You can rewrite or reframe your beliefs so that you have different thoughts. When you think differently, you’ll experience different emotions and feelings (whether that’s more confident, less scared, happier, braver…).
When you feel differently, you take different actions, and of course you get different results.
Let me give you an example … a few months ago, I worked with a senior HR manager in a law firm – she had been encouraged by her director to apply for his job (he was leaving the firm).
This sounded like a wonderful opportunity. Her director was thinking about succession planning and had identified a fabulous candidate with international experience (my client) to bring a fresh approach and new perspective to the role.
However my client was hesitant to put herself forward for the promotion. And she didn’t know why. The application deadline was the next day.
She booked a 60 minute coaching session with me. Guess what was holding her back.
She believed that to be an HR Director, you need a degree. (And like me, she doesn’t have one). Never mind her 20 years experience! Never mind her more relevant CIPD qualifications. Never mind that the director was telling her to apply.
Her belief about the need for a degree was holding her back and stopping her from applying for promotion. This limiting belief was sabotaging her career success.
Once we figured it out, she was able to choose a more helpful belief, and then take the appropriate actions to reinforce that new belief.
This is all part of working on your mindset. It’s not always easy but it can be super powerful.
How to stop your limiting beliefs
In order to stop your limiting beliefs, the first step is to become aware of what those beliefs are. Start by noticing what you notice about your thoughts and beliefs. What thoughts do you have that are positive and helpful? What are not?
The powerful thing about our beliefs is that they turn out to be self-fulfilling prophecy. For example if I tell myself “I’m rubbish at doing client presentations”, I get nervous and anxious before the presentation, I fuss over the content of my slides and I end up doing a poor presentation because I’m so nervous.
Whereas if I tell myself “Every time I do a client presentation, I get more polished and more confident”. Then afterwards, if I note down what worked well, what worked better than last time … I’m gathering the evidence to believe that I am getting better at client presentations.
Now over to you … if somebody talks to you about applying for a new job, going for promotion, or taking on new responsibilities, what are the first thoughts that pop into your head?
If those first thoughts are unhelpful, how does holding onto that unhelpful thought hold you back? What does it stop you from doing or being?
What would a more helpful thought be? What do you need to believe to think and feel differently? How will it help you? What would you do differently if you held a more helpful belief?
What about my limiting beliefs
You might think that because I’m a career and confidence coach, that my mindset is all hunky dory. You’d be wrong.
Even I need to work on my limiting beliefs and my mindset. Right now I’m reading Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth.
It takes a lot longer to figure out the limiting beliefs when you’re doing it on your own because it’s easy to avoid asking yourself the questions that matter. One thing I have found helpful is to meditate for 5-10 minutes. Before I start meditating, I ask myself “What money blocks are getting in my way?”
One limiting belief I identified is that being rich is hard work. But it doesn’t need to be, does it? It’s not that I’m scared of hard work.
But for some reason, the belief buried deep inside my head said that being rich is hard work (there’s more for me to work on here because working hard and being loved are all mixed up, not in a good way). Because of that belief, I wasn’t taking the right actions to get rich.
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
Limiting beliefs aren’t logical. They often don’t make sense. And often we have no idea where they’ve come from. It may be something you heard as a child. An unfair comment from a previous manager. A mistake you once made that have convinced yourself you’ll make over and over.
What is amazing about our brains is that we can rewrite the stories in our head, change those limiting beliefs and stop sabotaging our own career success.
I’d love to hear from you. What limiting beliefs are you aware of that have sabotaged or are sabotaging your career success?
And if this article resonates for you, share with it someone you know to see if it helps them too.