For many, avoidance of career change or growth is deep rooted in a fear of uncertainty and the imperfection it may cause in their lives. It can be that there is uncertainty around where their job search will lead. If they make the wrong decision, the idealized perfect career path will be shattered and crumble. An important component that comes with wanting to achieve perfection is control. The need to be in control of everything is obviously an impossible feat, yet the fear is that if we cannot control every outcome, then we cannot achieve these perfect lives. This lead to paralysis in taking any action, even if it is the smallest step forward toward our goals.
Sometimes negative thought patterns serve as a way to be in control of disappointment; a defense mechanism against rejection or failure. There are infinite amounts of decisions to make in our everyday lives. If we put pressure on ourselves to make the perfect decision every single step of the way, ultimately that need for control will send us out of control and toward feelings of being stuck in situations in our careers that we can’t change.
This is where the “now” gets lost. What can we actually control in this very moment? Let us take work for example. What in today, or this week, at work is in your control? Maybe doing the best job you can on a project or having a conversation with a manager about inefficiencies. Or, if you are unhappy with your current role, perhaps putting forth the best effort to apply to the positions that are on the market that week. The goal is to stay away from the narratives that send you in a negative direction. For example, once you apply for the job you might start to get excited about it, but because of fear of disappointment immediately spiral in a direction like – it will never happen and you will be stuck in the dead-end position that you are currently in forever. This could cause discouragement in applying for more positions and may lead to giving up. In reality, you will never be stuck as long as you try. If you keep applying, something is bound to come along. Even if it isn’t the “perfect” position you are looking for, it can lead to more opportunities and more doors opening in your future. If we can accept that we may not exactly like the position or situation that we are in at the moment AND we will continue to strive toward our values and goals, then we will at the very least be heading in a direction that is productive. Looking too far ahead can detract from our current achievements. This is why it is important to recognize the “now” and what is actually in your control, rather than creating anxiety and stress by reaching for this perfection that is beyond our control.
By: Jessica A. Glynn, LMSW, CPC , CEC