Life is full of events and circumstances you can’t control. So even with your best efforts, you will face unexpected twists and turns on the road to reaching your career goals. But there is one powerful factor that can make or break your likelihood of success at any point of your professional path: Your mindset.
“Your mindset impacts how you make sense of the world, and how you make sense of you. Your mindset is responsible for how you interpret and react to what happens to you and around you. It plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges,” says Valérie Mège, mindset coach and NLP and hypnosis practitioner.
Mindset can be the differentiator between two similarly qualified professionals aiming for the same promotion. It takes the shape of the confidence that propels you to make a bold move that ends up paying off. It’s at play when you dream big and believe in your capacity to achieve your dreams.
“If you cannot first see it in your mind, then you won’t see it in your reality. When it comes to career success, there are a lot of people working toward similar goals. How you think about your talents and skills in this regard is going to make all the difference between succeeding and failing,” says NLP mindset coach Kylie-Anne Bowers.
So, could your mindset be holding you back without you even realizing it? Below are five signs you may be getting in your own way. But don’t fret: If that’s the case, it means you can start working towards more empowering, success-friendly perspective shifts.
You work hard but you’re just not where you want to be
Do you feel like your efforts, skills and experience just don’t translate into the roles you end up getting? Do you feel overqualified for your job or have you been in the same company without advancing for way too long? You might be subconsciously self-sabotaging.
“If a person feels as though they have taken all the necessary steps of action, and know that they deserve to be in a higher position but they are not, then there is most likely a limiting belief that is holding them back,” says Bowers.
“A limiting belief is a belief system that happens at a subconscious level, therefore most people are not aware of the limiting beliefs they have or even that they do have limiting beliefs. A limiting belief can appear as fear, doubt or just that unexplainable feeling of ‘I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to crack what is wrong with me.’”
You often feel wronged and like you can’t catch a break
Mège says she’s noticed subtle patterns in the clients she works with who feel stuck in their careers. Those include feeling like a victim at work, having a hard time accepting their mistakes and being jealous of others. “They always have someone to blame about what happens to them at work. They have complicated relationships with their boss and/or colleagues,” she says. “They feel like they are not really in charge and depend on their boss, the job market or the economy to make decisions about their career.”
If you often feel like the whole world is against you, it’s an opportunity to get very honest with yourself and reflect on whether you could be taking more responsibility for your results. “When you take full responsibility for your career and development, you give yourself the best opportunity to experience a successful and fulfilling career.”
You keep experiencing similar situations despite changing jobs
You may just be unlucky. Or you may be the common denominator between the frustrating scenarios you seem to keep running into.
“A negative mindset will cause someone to fall into the same patterns over and over again. This often goes undetected as the repeating pattern happens through different people and scenarios. It’s that feeling of ‘I just can’t seem to move forward.’ It’s as though that person can never catch that break that everyone knows they deserve,” says Bowers.
So if you keep changing jobs but running into bosses or teammates you dislike working with, you might want to ask yourself whether you’re bringing negative energy into the mix — and how to start shifting your approach.
You have negative self-talk
Your inner dialogue provides fascinating insights into your mindset. Pay attention to your thoughts as well as the things you say out loud when you refer to yourself in conversations. According to Mège, saying things like “I’m not good at coming up with ideas” or “I suck at public speaking” can be a telltale sign that you have a fixed mindset — the destructive belief that your skills and intelligence are fixed and cannot progress with learning and effort.
You don’t take risks very often
“With the right mindset, you will seize career opportunities, have a strong sense of self-belief and see setbacks, challenges and failures as opportunities to learn so you won’t be afraid to take risks,” says Mège.
And the opposite is also true. If you can’t even remember the last time you felt challenged at work, your mindset may be preventing you from getting out of your comfort zone and growing and evolving professionally. Pursuing new opportunities can be an uncomfortable process, but with the right mindset, you will trust your abilities to figure things out and tackle new challenges as well as your capacity to cope with failure. If, on the other hand, you are terrified of failing and would rather be a little bored than face the unknown, you could end up playing too small and missing out on huge career rewards.