What you say to yourself matters. It’s what makes or breaks your happiness really. Bottom line: you are not only your worst critic, but also the one that keeps yourself from living the life you so deeply desire. It’s true in life and in business.
I came across a very cool article in Forbes from a woman who spent almost two decades in corporate America before embarking on a path as a success coach, writer, speaker and leadership developer. She points that an untold number of people in today’s working world keep saying things to themselves that keep them stuck in damaging environments and positions.
So, she points out five things you need to STOP saying to yourself (and to others) if you want a better career and a better life. They are:
1/“This is not so bad – I can tolerate it.”
So many people want to remain blind to how their daily work-lives are hurting them. They think that staying in sick, toxic and demoralizing environments and toughing it out will be the best choice. Sadly, it never is. The say to themselves that it’s ok and right to remain in pain, not doing anything to rise up and stand up for their lives. The question is, “Why do you think ‘tolerating’ your career is what you should be going for? What has happened in your past that has led you to think it’s OK to settle for and compromise on so much?”
2/“I’m too old to change this.”
I’m a firm believer that our main two motivators in life are LOVE and FEAR. One of top regrets of many in the corporate world is this: “I wish I hadn’t let my fears stop me from making change.” A key fear is that they’re too old to create a happier career now, and that joyful, rewarding careers are somehow only possible if we start them in our 20s. That idea is categorically false. Many, many people around the world have mustered the courage to pivot, revise or discard what isn’t working and build entirely new professional identities. And most were well out of their 20s and 30s when doing it.
3/“I’m just not good enough. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been fired (or laid off).”
This one particular self-message is so very damaging to your well-being and confidence. Thousands of people are being fired and laid off every year, and the majority are not “losers,” incompetents, or unable to do their work well. There are a myriad of reasons why people are let go, and a good number of them have much more to do with the culture and environment than with you. You can’t let what happens to you drown you in self-rejection. Nor can you take it all personally. Sometimes it’s a situation where you are a wrong fit for this culture, and being let go is the best thing that could ever happen to you. Whatever the situation, pick yourself up and get moving towards landing a happier role and professional identity.
4/“It’s just too hard to change.”
We all know people who refuse to make changes in their lives because the risk of change scares them. Fear of risk is an inherent part of the human experience. The reality is that so many simply won’t commit to doing the hard work of change.
What is hard about changing our lives and careers for the better? To make lasting change possible, you have to dig very deep within yourself, with as much bravery as you can muster, to examine with open eyes who you are, how you became that way, what shaped you, and what is no longer working for you. It’s critical to examine with fierce honesty your key mindsets, beliefs, behaviors, communication style, action style and so much more. Then and only then are you able to identify what no longer serves you at the highest level, and begin to release and modify it. That’s the toughest part of change.
5/“I’m an introvert and what’s required of me to be successful today is just not possible for me.”
For years, I’ve considered myself an extrovert, and recently my eyes have been opened to the challenges introverts face in today’s society and workplaces.
Here’s the challenge: While millions of people believe that introverts are the minority in our world, new data suggest that both introverts and extroverts are in the minority. It’s “ambiverts” (or people who are a balance of extrovert and introvert) who make up a half to two thirds of our population. Ambiverts are said to have a strong advantage – they can leverage traits within them of both introversion and extroversion to great success.
Studies have also revealed that how we perceive ourselves, and the internal stories we tell ourselves about who we are, will indeed shape our experiences. I’ve seen that those who say over and over to themselves “I’m an introvert and networking and advocating for myself is horribly hard for me,” are often buying into a myth about their own brand of introversion that keeps them stuck in an increasingly insular world. In other words, I’ve worked with self-reported introverts who have leveraged their introvert power and leadership to build fantastically successful careers. I’ve also seen how introverts have become powerful networkers, building inspiring communities that help them thrive.
In the end, what we tell ourselves will indeed shape what happens to and around us, and how we interpret these events and experiences.
If you’re not satisfied with your work or life experience, it is within your control to change it for the better. But only if you do the hard work of change. The first and best micro step to take is to watch very closely what you say about yourself (to yourself and to others…maybe keep a journal for a week?) and begin to revise all the limiting and self-sabotaging stories you tell, to allow you to embrace more power, authority and self-confidence in your life.