Throughout January, I will be discussing some ideas, tactics and tools which I’ve seen used successfully by professionals and executives to kick start their careers. 

Part 1 – a psychological perspective. 

It’s a fact that nearly 86% of all New Year’s resolutions are broken by the beginning of the 3rd week of January.  Put another way, only 14% of them have a chance of being kept.  Why the hassle? Why is it if we really ‘want’ something in our life that we can’t even do what it takes for 30 days?

It has to do with our personal programming and that, as we all know, starts at a very early age.  The shrinks and therapists aren’t totally aligned on this, but most will agree that by the age of 3 or 4 we have established some pretty firm traits which will form the basis of who we are and how we’ll behave for the rest of our lives.  Therefore, making any major or significant shifts in your actions and beliefs as you go through school and then into your career takes conscious effort, care and dedication.  Simply being intellectual about change doesn’t usually suffice.

The faculty at the International Coaching  Academy (ICA) has hit on a sound concept about how to deal with this issue.  They reason that there is a significant difference between being committed to something and simply ‘trying’ to do or have it.  In their work, they have concluded that each of us, at any time, is truly committed to something.  They posit that there is never a time when we are not committed.  In their paper on this subject they agree that this is a ‘big’ statement, and put forth a test for it. I have copied it here:

“You might say, ‘What about when I’m lying on the sofa watching television? I’m not committed to anything then.” But we would reply that is exactly what you are committed to at that very moment — lying on the sofa watching television. There could even be a stronger underlying commitment. Consider this scenario: It is Saturday afternoon and you have a stack of work to complete by Monday. You know that to finish it on time, you will need to work on it all weekend. Instead, you’re lying there watching television. What might be your underlying, in fact, your true commitment at that moment?

Try the following ideas: You could be committed to not succeeding at work! Perhaps you are committed to proving that, “you have too much on your plate,” or that everyone else is lazy and they leave it all up to you. It could even be as radical as: You’re committed to being financially insecure and there’s a real chance you could lose your job if you don’t complete the work. There are infinite possible commitments that may underlie your actions for lying on the sofa watching television.”

(Yes, I know that the idea of being “committed to being financially insecure” can seem totally farfetched.  But we all know people who have been brought up to believe that money is the root of all evil, and they simply can’t break that emotional hold.  A lot of self-help guru’s use this ingrained psychology to make a good living for themselves.)

If you believe you may have underlying thoughts or beliefs holding you back, the ICA’s paper says that’s pretty common.  They note, “there are many possible commitments that underlie your actions for your actions. Of course, the problem is that we are often not aware of what that underlying commitment is at the time. We have amazingly creative reasons for why we lie on the sofa and they always seem so true. We even make sure we have friends around us who agree with our reasons: ‘Oh, I know, it’s terrible the way they make you do all the work; you deserve a break.’

In closing, here’s the point – the good news is this: There is a lot of power gained when you get honest with yourself as to why you do things the way you do. This is the key to living a powerful, successful life, as opposed to living as a victim of life.  And, if you are complaining about how your life is, or any part of it, then you are playing the role of victim. You don’t have to be complaining out loud for it to be costing you something. It could simply be that little voice inside your head, singing its repetitive “tune.

Next time we’ll look at a tool used by companies to develop achievable plans; and how you can use it for your career. 

                                                                 – john  

                                                               Career Coach