The current pandemic has led many people to wonder about changing careers; an not surprisingly so. Here are a few simple principles to consider when deciding on career reinvention, that can guide aspiring career-changers through the process during these hard times.
Has 20Plenty turned in to 20Empty for you?
Are you fatigued by a prolonged lockdown and feeling like “Can this be over now?!?” Have you started to relook at your career i.t.o potentially making some changes?
Clinical psychologists have suggested that this pandemic has caused an emotional tsunami for many. “Peoples’ feelings are exacerbated to the extremes at the moment, especially because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen,” Suntosh Pillay. The toll this pandemic has taken on peoples’ mental health is leaving many in a perpetual state of stress.
While, for some, lockdown has afforded the opportunity to spend much needed time with family, which would not ordinarily have happened; for others lockdown has been a source of anxiety, hopelessness and disconnectedness. Financial stress, anxiety and panic has been cited by South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as 3 of the major challenges South Africans are facing.
In addition to this, many people are being forced to re-evaluate their careers with many looking for ‘re-skilling’ opportunities to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown world of work. Many people have found themselves retrenched or forced into unpaid leave and still others fear they could find themselves in the same situation and not have a position to go back to in the new year.
Has this pandemic caused you to consider pivoting or changing careers completely as you begin to prepare for life after lockdown?
Global research indicates that many people are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be able to be re-employed or be in a position to transition into a different sector.
Regrettable only 36% of polled employers has offered their employees support in improving their existing skillsets during this time. We know that without continuous improvements to skill-sets, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they are not being challenged or given the opportunity to grow. This is more important now than ever before. If staff are unfulfilled and unmotivated they will start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when things settle down.
This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they will be able to find anyone with the right attributes. So investing in continuous skills development with existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.
For many this pandemic has been the wake-up call they were waiting for.The study found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.
In fact, one in 10 people are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job. However, 54 % of people surveyed fear they are too established in their current career to do something new; despite many feeling that they may not have a job to return to.
Business owners, have indicated that six out of 10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for and filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.
Recruitment is costly on a financial level, and there is a danger it could affect a business’ ability to grow because they can not find the right people for the job.
This is why continuous skills development is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated. Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce who has all the right skills for the business.
What plans do you have for continuous skills development as you prepare for life after lockdown?
The past week has been an interesting one, filled with both joy and sorrow. As is want to happen the new week arrived in all its magnificence and serendipitously, I found these Four Stories that gave me pause to reflect. These are old familiar stories and you have probably read them before with slightly different people and contexts however the lessons remain the same.
Story #1: All the Difference in The World
Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home. There’s a lake located in one corner of the park. Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.
This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her. As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap. There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap. She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.
“Hello,” I said. “I see you here every Sunday morning. If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”
She smiled. “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied. “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim. It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”
“Wow! That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.
She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out. It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”
“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.
“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.
I scratched my head. “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent? I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are freshwater turtles living in lakes all around the world. And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells. So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”
The woman giggled aloud. She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”
The moral: You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time. Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference. It does. (Read 29 Gifts.)
Story #2: The Weight of the Glass
Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”
Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.
She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
The moral: It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries. No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you. If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down. (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Story #3: Shark Bait
During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.
As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.
The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.
Again, the shark quickly attacked. This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off. Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail. Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition. Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.
This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.
The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack. The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.
The moral: Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
Story #4: Being and Breathing
One warm evening many years ago…
After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing. So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear. She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”
A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep. The room was peaceful – almost silent. All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing. I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible. And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone. Nor did the future hold any significance.
All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.
Just being with her and breathing with her.
The moral: We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.
How do you think differently today, than you once did? What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking? Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.
Staying mentally healthy as the country begins going back into workplaces.
Life as we knew it has changed and our reality is very different today than it was 100+ days ago. Many of us were in various stages of lockdown for extended periods of time. and even as many of the initial restrictions were lifted , many have still remained and will remain for the foreseeable future.
As we begin to emerge from what felt like hibernation for many, we are all to aware that life is very different and things will never go back to the way they were.
As we start to return to work, and our children return to school there is a lot to think about. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways, and it is normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds.
Many people feel confused, worried and apprehensive about going back to the workplace and even more feel anxious about sending children back to school. Amid this worry there is also the harsh realisation that indefinite lockdown is not sustainable and life still needs to carry on.
Organisations are considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations. These adjustments will depend on your job, and your individual circumstances.
Everyone’s situation is unique. However, as you return to work, there are some general principles that will give you the best chance of getting back to work and staying mentally healthy over the coming months.
Talk and connect
It is important to keep in touch with colleagues and your line manager. You don’t need to talk about work, but a quick check-in will help you feel connected. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus in different ways. You may have been bereaved, felt overwhelmed or isolated, or been unwell. If you share this with others they will be better able to help you in the months ahead.
Plan and prepare
Think about your job and your situation. Does anything need to change to help you do your job well? If you haven’t been told what to expect, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment. It can be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back:
- How will you get to work?
- Will anything be different as you enter the building?
- Who will be there?
- Will you need to do things differently to get your job done?
- Are you on a rotation schedule?
Have a return-to-work conversation with your line manager
If you have not received a return-to-work briefing from your line manager ask for one.
This is a chance to identify your work priorities and raise any concerns or questions that you have. If you have something important you want to talk about, make a note of it for when you have a briefing or perhaps drop your manager and email with your concerns. This is an unprecedented time for all of us and we are all trying to figure things out as we go along. NO one person has all the answers so raise your concerns and ask your questions – chances are you are not the only one who has the same concern.
Try not to panic and slip into a paranoid space
Take things one step at a time
The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks and months so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect everything to quickly return to normal. The life you knew and were familiar with prior to lockdown is gone and will very likely never return. We have a long journey ahead. We may never be able to go back to our old ways of working so this could give us an opportunity to do things very differently, and even better. Look out for yourself, look out for others and take one day at a time.
Monitor and review how you are getting on
It is important to have regular check-ins with yourself (How am I coping? Could I do more to help stay mentally healthy?) and check-ins with your team members and manager (How are we working? Is there anything we could do differently to work better together?). This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey through COVID-19 together.
Be mindful of those who may have been directedly affected or infected by this virus. Be supportive and check-in if a team member has had to deal with the illness or loss of a family member due to COVID-19. many of those in essential services have has to deal with unimaginable conditions from and emotional and psychological perspective. Many of them have brought these traumas home and family have had to deal as best they could. so be gentle and be kind with those who are struggling you may not know what they have has to deal with on the home front.
Everyone is finding their own path and things might not always go to plan. It is important to be kind to yourself and to be kind to others as we all find our way. Returning to work is not always easy, but having support can make a huge difference. If you are finding it difficult, ask a trusted colleague or friend to help you work through the questions and identify some concrete actions that you, or they, can take to help you.
It is not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it is what you whisper to yourself that has the most power! – Robert Kiyosaki
What is a Self-Image?
A self-image in its most basic form is an internalized mental picture an idea you have of yourself. It is how you think and feel about yourself based on your appearance, performance, and relationships that consistently impact your outlook on life as well as your level of happiness and fulfilment.
Whenever you ask:
How do I look?
How am I doing?
How important am I?
These are all examples of the internalized mental picture/idea you create of yourself that builds the foundations of your self-image. However, this does not provide us with nearly enough information about what this “self-image” thing is all about. So let us break this down even further.
Your self-image is the impression you have of yourself that forms a collective representation of your assets and liabilities. In other words, your self-image is how you see yourself based on your strengths and weaknesses.
These assets and liabilities often are evident through the labels you give yourself that describe your qualities and characteristics.
For instance, you might say:
I am intelligent… therefore I can…
I am loser… therefore I believe I can’t…
I am outgoing… therefore I am able to…
I am shy… therefore I am unable to…
I am a late bloomer… therefore I take longer…
These are just some examples of the many labels you potentially give yourself and the inevitable conclusions you may reach as a result. It is these conclusions you make about yourself that either form the foundations of a healthy self-image or an unhealthy self-image. Moreover, these labels form the foundations of your belief systems.
Your self-image is not something that is based on reality. In actuality, your self-image is built upon your perception of reality and that is influenced by how you believe you are being viewed by society and other people.
Your self-image is something that gradually develops over a lifetime of experience through learning and societal influence. It is, however, something that is constantly changing over time as you gain more life experience, as you think and reflect, as you learn, and as you interact with other people.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Self-Image
So what does a healthy self-image look like? What does an unhealthy self-image? What is the difference? And what impact do both have on your life?
Let us answer these questions by breaking down what it means to live with a healthy and an unhealthy self-image. As you read through these two examples, take inventory of yourself and identify whether your self-image borders more to the healthy or toward the unhealthy side of the scale.
An Unhealthy Self-Image
A person with an unhealthy self-image tends to consistently focus on their flaws and limitations. They persistently criticize themselves and tend to judge most of their decisions and actions:
What was I thinking?
That was such a stupid decision.
I can’t believe I just did that.
I am so useless.
I can’t do anything right.
This constant critical judgment tends to distort their imperfections making these seem larger than life. In fact, everything on the negative side tends to be exaggerated and blown out of proportion. This often happens because they are heavily influenced by other people’s opinions of them; to their own detriment.
In fact, these peoples’ lives are very much defined by societal views, opinions, standards, norms, and expectations. As a result, they are consistently comparing themselves to others and trying to live up to other people’s expectations. When they notice that they just don’t measure up, this sends their emotions into a tailspin which triggers doubt, pessimism, insecurity and eventually leads to discouragement and potentially depression.
Whenever a person builds their self-image upon external factors, there will always be drawbacks. People’s opinions change and societal expectations constantly shift. When these opinions and expectations are weighed in our favour this leads to a positive outlook and greater fulfilment. However, when they flip and become unfavourable or unhelpful in respect of the outcomes we would like to achieve, this causes upheaval by sending our emotions into a tailspin. Why? because suddenly the perfect mental picture/idea we had of ourselves has been thrown out the door. It is certainly not a healthy way to live. Inevitably these people find themselves on a constant see-saw of feeling good about themselves and feeling terrible about themselves.
A Healthy Self-Image
A healthy self-image is primarily based on an individual’s personal feelings and perspectives. Here individuals are no longer influenced by other people’s opinions of them or by societal expectations. They instead make up their own minds about the internalized mental picture/idea they have of themselves. As a result, these people often have a more optimistic outlook on life and thereby more confidence in themselves and in their own ability. Why? Because they feel a greater sense of control over themselves and over their life.
A person with a healthy self-image doesn’t deny that they have flaws. In fact, they are realistic and clearly understand and accept the fact that they have their personal shortcomings. However, there is no critical judgment here. They acknowledge who they are and how they are in this very moment and they do the best they can with what they have.
A healthy self-image is of course built upon a high level of self-worth. These work together to help shape a healthy personality, which effectively builds the foundation of an empowered life. An empowered life in turn allows us to incrementally improve those areas of our life we believe requires improvement.
How to Build a Healthy Self-Image
Here is a four-step process that will help you build a healthy self-image. This process is closely tied to the process we used for building more self-worth. Because these two are related, there will be some crossover. Having said that, there are some variations here that will help you dig a little deeper in this area.
Step 1: Explore Yourself
Your first step is to explore who you are and what that means to you. This is an important first step because unless you clearly define who you are, you will never really develop a clear and accurate picture/idea of “you”.
Who am I?
How am I?
What defines who I am?
How do I see myself?
How accurate is this view?
Is this who I really am? Is it really?
Is this my true self? Or is there something more below the surface?
It is important that you keep digging deeper and deeper using these questions. It is very much like peeling back the layers of an onion. The surface layers will reveal a fuzzy picture of who you are. However, as you dig deeper and deeper by peeling off more layers you begin to get a clearer picture/idea of yourself. This is why it is important to periodically question the accuracy of your view. Your goal is to get to the core of who you really are without the need for all those external layers.
Step 2: Take a Personal Inventory
It is time to take a personal inventory by listing your positive qualities, goals, passions, and purpose.
What are my positive qualities? I am… therefore I can…
What do other people say are my positive qualities?
What personal strengths do I have? I am… therefore I am able to…
What goals would I like to achieve?
How could I live with more meaning and purpose?
What does all this mean to me?
Why is all this important?
The purpose of this step is to unlock all the good things you feel about yourself; to unlock all the things you have going for yourself that will now add layers back onto that onion to help form a strong personal impression of who you are today from a bigger picture perspective.
In the previous step, you were removing unnecessary layers to get to the core of yourself. Within this step, you are adding layers to that core to form a definitive and comprehensive picture/idea of yourself at this very moment. And it is, of course, that very picture that forms the foundations of your self-image.
Step 3: Analyze Your Struggles
A little earlier I mentioned how a healthy self-image is primarily based on our own personal feelings and perspectives. In other words, how we think about ourselves as well as the opinions and labels we create are all critical components that go into building a healthy self-image.
A person with a healthy self-image does not rely on outside opinions or circumstances to define who they are. They must instead rely on internal resources for this purpose. It is therefore absolutely critical that we take personal control of our internal world because it is the only thing that really matters when it comes to building a healthy self-image.
To get an understanding of this internal world we need to take a look at four key areas. These areas include your critical voice, your unhelpful thoughts, beliefs in the form of labels, as well as incorrect assumptions you might be making about yourself.
Here are some questions to help stimulate your thoughts in these areas:
How do I tend to talk to myself throughout the day?
When things go wrong, what is my internal dialogue like?
Am I mostly critical or encouraging?
Given the outcomes I would like to achieve are my thoughts mostly helpful or unhelpful?
How do my thoughts tend to distort my reality?
How do I tend to label myself?
Are my labels helpful or unhelpful?
Are these labels rational? Does it even make sense for me to label myself in this way?
What assumptions do I tend to make about myself?
How are these assumptions potentially hurting me?
Working through these questions will effectively help you get a better understanding of how your critical voice, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are shaping the picture/idea you have of yourself that builds your self-image.
If you discover that you tend to be overly critical of yourself; that your thoughts tend to be unhelpful; that your labels are negative; and that you tend to make assumptions that lead you astray, then it is important to work through these areas one by one in order to solidify your self-image.
If you are constantly being critical of yourself, then this is an indication that your self-image is not as healthy as it could be. It is therefore important to silence that critical voice and begin using more encouraging words.
Changing your language patterns in this way will help settle your thoughts and help you think more clearly and effectively. This subsequently means that you will be less likely to make negative assumptions or label yourself in unhelpful ways.
Step 4: Create an Accurate View of Yourself
The final step is to create a more accurate view of yourself that you can use as the foundation for building a healthy self-image. This view of yourself must be built upon all the positive qualities and strengths you outlined in Step 2 of this process.
Take those positive qualities and strengths and ask yourself one simple question:
How would I ideally like to be?
Take time to really have a good-long-hard think about this question and answer honestly how you would like to “be” starting today. There is, no one right answer, but rather a variety of answers that go into building your self-image. You will still have flaws and things that you might be struggling with. Accept these things. They are a part of you in the moment. You can work on improving these areas as you go along.
What is important here is that you are honest, genuine, authentic and real. This is who you are and this is how you see yourself with warts and all. In the end, building a healthy self-image is all about you. It is all about HOW you alone without external influences see yourself. It is this picture/idea of “you” that is what matters above all else. You are in the driver’s seat here; you alone define how you see yourself, and that is what counts in the end.
How to Strengthen Your Self-Image
Within this final section let us discuss some ideas to help you strengthen your self-image. Some of these suggestions are quite self-explanatory. In fact, many of them are simply decisions you make or slight shifts in the way you think about yourself, think about your life, or how you approach circumstances. Other suggestions will require a little conscious effort and self-discipline. So all-in-all there is nothing complex here. Strengthening your self-image is simply about doing small things consistently over time that will make a big difference in the long-run.
Do not Allow Society to Define You
Many people walk through life as a passive bystander. They accept how things are and allow society to influence/manipulate them into thinking and doing things in a specific way. They may have an opinion, but they rarely stand up for what they believe in, and instead allow society to shape their attitudes and opinions. As a result these people are at the mercy of the society.
They experience a roller-coaster ride of emotions because their internalized mental picture/idea of themselves shifts and changes depending on what is happening around them. They are therefore rarely satisfied and never completely fulfilled because they are always comparing themselves to others and trying to live up to societal expectations, opinions or views.
We often get stuck in this scenario because we regrettably take responsibility for other people’s problems. This is harmful because, for the most part, we are unable to control or influence these problems, and yet we lay the burden on our own shoulders. At times this is not even of our own doing. Other people place the burden of their problems on our shoulders and we suffer as a result.
It really should not be this way. Everyone should take responsibility for their own problems. In fact, you must be the one to take responsibility for your own choices, health, happiness, finances, relationships and life. Do not burden others with these things. You and you alone shape your life with purpose, and only in this way will you gain the personal power you need to develop a healthy and empowered self-image.
It is important to begin primarily living through our own internalized representation of ourselves and not relying on society to define us. This of course, starts with fully understanding and accepting who you are and then taking charge of the mental processes that are running your life.
Don’t Indulge in Self-Judgement or Self-Criticism
When you judge and overly criticize yourself, that is a clear indication that your internal voice is taking over your life. What I am talking about is that type of judgment and criticism that leaves you feeling helpless and deflated. That is the self-talk that it hurting your self-image and depleting your reservoirs of self-confidence.
While constructive criticism can be helpful, constructive criticism does not leave you with a foul taste in your mouth. It is rather something that leaves you feeling hopeful, optimistic and motivated that you can do better next time.
Instead of judging and/or criticizing yourself, choose to give yourself feedback. Feedback will provide you with an avenue for improvement and will help you to progressively develop the self-confidence you need to build a healthy self-image that allows you to be the best you can possibly be in every situation. After all you are not perfect, and you will make mistakes and fail miserably at times. That’s just part of life.
Actually, it’s just part of being human. You are not perfect and you will never be. Accept yourself with warts and all because a healthy self-image always comes through self-acceptance, which of course stems from self-understanding.
Don’t Expect Others to Complete You
When you rely on other people to complete you, you are at that very moment giving away your personal power. You are building your self-image on external factors (people). This might initially make you feel great about yourself and will undoubtedly help you boost your levels of confidence, however, the problem with this is your self-image is now at the mercy of other people.
If one day they tell you they do not love you anymore, then suddenly you feel unlovable. Or if suddenly they vanish from your life, then all of a sudden there is this empty hole inside that makes you feel incomplete.
You are not this other person, and they are not you. You are your own individual self and you certainly do not need other people to complete you. All you need is to gain a deep sense of understanding of who you are. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Then take full responsibility and control of your internal habitual patterns, and finally, fully accept that you are complete in your own right.
Other people can add value to your life, but in-and-of-itself you are complete in every way. This does not mean you are a finished product. You are not. There is much room to grow, develop and evolve in the coming years. However, this growth comes from within and then expresses itself outward in everything you do. That is the key to developing an empowering mental picture/idea of “you”. It starts from within. It starts with how you see yourself. It starts with building a healthy self-image.
Always Follow-through with Your Word
Your word must become your law. In other words, the promises you make to yourself you must keep. Promises kept help you create consistency, and you need consistency to build a healthy self-image.
Consistency is important when it comes to building a healthy self-image because a healthy self-image is not something that suddenly fluctuates with changing opinions. It is something that is steady and steadfast. I am not suggesting that your self-image does not change over time. Of course, it does. You certainly do not see yourself the same way today as you saw yourself a few years ago.
In fact, you might see yourself very differently in a variety of roles and/or situations. Your self-image is fluid, however, it requires consistency and consistency come from your ability to keep your word to follow through and do things a certain way.
A person who does not keep their word (the promises they make to themselves) is often the person who is heavily influenced/swayed by other people and their opinions. When you keep your word you are sending a strong message that you are running your life based on your own feelings and perspectives. You are not swayed by outside circumstances. This, does not mean you can’t change your mind. But that “change of mind” must come from a decision you make from within that is not primarily based on external factors.
When you reach this point you know that you are the one in the driver’s seat of your life. This is when you know you are the captain of your own ship.
Build Your Self-Image Upon Strong Foundations of Self-Worth
Finally, a healthy self-image is built upon the strong foundations of a high level of self-worth. Self-worth is of course all about how much you value and regard yourself despite what others might say and/or despite unfavourable circumstances. When you have a high level of self-worth nothing shakes or phases you. Likewise, when you have a healthy self-image you don’t look to outside sources to define who you are.
You alone create your own definition of who you are. You create the impression you have of yourself in each and every situation. You alone mould and shape the person you are today, and the person you become tomorrow.
Was this article helpful? Please leave a comment and let me know how you have built on your self image, I would love to hear from you.
But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. – John Donne
Are You Caught Up in a Repeating Cycle of Self-Sabotage?
Have you ever wanted something so badly… for so long… trying so damn hard… but time and again you ended up failing miserably?
Have you ever set goals and objectives that you just didn’t or couldn’t reach?
Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and keep getting precisely the same pitiful results?
All of us at one point or another go through these repeated cycles and phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day. As a result, we rarely live up to our full potential in any area of our lives.
What is more, is that we continuously regret the things we did not do then wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behaviour.
Given all this, you might be wondering whether there is an answer for getting unstuck? Is there an actual solution for avoiding these repetitive and limiting patterns of behavior?
And the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. There is a solution, but first, we must come to understand what self-sabotage is all about.
What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. It is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior.
Self-sabotage prevents you from reaching your goals and plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.
The Real Reason Why You Indulge in Self-Sabotage
Moreover, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we have great difficulty managing our daily emotional experiences. We tend to react to events, circumstances, and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.
Self-sabotage is also used as an effective method for coping with stressful situations or high expectations.
For example we sabotage ourselves when we are unable to reach the high bars of expectation that have been set for us. We feel incapable of reaching these expectations and thereby indulge in self-sabotaging behaviour as a means of coping with the situation.
No matter what our reasoning for self-sabotage, it is quite clear that if we do not do something about it, we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.
The Manifestation of Self-Sabotage in Our Lives
Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways.
Here is a list of typical methods we tend to use to sabotage our own success.
- We succumb to the fear of failure.
- We hold ourselves back from taking risks.
- We do not take proactive action because we fear to make mistakes.
- We choose not to listen to instructions carefully.
- We don’t take the time to plan ahead.
- We are incapable of saying no to others.
- We don’t take the time to consider the consequences of our actions.
- We don’t take the time to think carefully before making decisions.
- We don’t make an effort to think critically or practically about our circumstances.
- We are too set in our ways and don’t take the time to think flexibly about our problems.
- We have too much pride to admit to our mistakes and errors.
- We worry incessantly and needlessly without looking at our situation objectively.
- We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and for others.
- We allow our critical voice to take charge and thereby persistently judge ourselves and others.
- We continuously indulge in comparison thinking where we measure our value based on what others are doing.
- We are always complaining about people, life, circumstances or about perceived bad luck.
- We knowingly indulge in the habit of procrastination and perfectionism.
- We blindly accept other people’s advice without question.
- We struggle with limiting beliefs, debilitating emotions, and poor attitudes.
- We persistently indulge in unhelpful thoughts that sabotage our mind.
- We regularly focus on what’s not working or on wishful daydreams.
When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:
This won’t work…
I can’t do this…
I’m too busy right now…
I’m just not ready yet…
I’m just not good enough…
Here are 19 more excuses you’re making that might very well be keeping you stuck.
Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little more difficult to identify.
The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead us down the path of self-sabotage.
Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.
4-Steps for Eliminating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
There is a simple yet very effective method we can use to eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives.
The process involves 4 steps. These 4 steps can help you take conscious control of the behaviours that are currently influencing your choices, decisions, and actions.
These steps include:
- Identifying Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
- Recreating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
- Identifying a Healthy Replacement Behavior
- Practicing the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Let’s have a look at how each of these work
Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior
Your first objective is to Identify the Self-Sabotaging Behavior that is preventing you from moving forward.
To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily choices, decisions, actions, and the resulting consequences. Use the list in the previous section to identify the various types of self-sabotaging behaviours you tend to indulge in.
Once your behaviours have been identified, it’s necessary to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing these behaviours to manifest in your life. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Ask yourself:
What specifically triggers this behavior?
How exactly does this behavior manifest in my life?
Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether.
Simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
However, there is another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotaging pattern.
The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on converting them into positive empowering beliefs.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Take just two minutes and ask yourself:
What is it that I believe in this situation?
What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?
How did my belief about this, trigger my self-sabotage pattern?
How is this belief ridiculous and/or impractical?
What would others say about this belief?
What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?
These questions are a good starting point. Use these to help you weaken the beliefs that govern your self-sabotaging behavior.
Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern
Having worked through the previous step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage patterns by outlining all the triggers and the associated behaviours that manifest as a result of these triggers.
It’s important that you are very clear about how this behaviour manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.
How exactly does this self-sabotaging behaviour tend to manifest in my life?
What typically triggers this behaviour and how?
What patterns am I seeing that could help me to better understand this behaviour at a deeper level?
Once you have a good understanding of the patterns surrounding this behavior, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behaviour
To eliminate an old pattern of behaviour, we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful.
This is fundamental…why … because at times it is difficult to avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways.
We must take time to develop a more resourceful and appropriate way of responding.
How could I respond in a more appropriate, resourceful, and practical way that would help me get what I want in this situation?
How and why is this a better way to respond in this situation?
What are some reasons for making this change?
What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?
What are the key advantages of this new behavior?
Remember that change will not happen if there is a lack of motivation behind that change.
If you cannot find reliable enough reasons to make a change, then you simply won’t have the necessary desire or drive to follow through with the change.
Step 4: Practice the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed
Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible until a new habit is established.
To do this, begin by going through your response (your healthy replacement behavior) to the situation in your imagination. See every detail in large pictures with lots of colour or music or anything else that is fun for you. Feel the positive energy churning through your body as you continue to enlarge the details of your new habit. Do this a few times daily and each time add more colour, more fun to your picture in your head and very soon you will overcome the old self-sabotaging pattern.
Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in real-world situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behaviour. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new empowering habit is formed.
10 Practical Ideas for Eliminating Self-Sabotage
To eliminate our self-sabotage patterns, we must make a concerted effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviours and actions at all times.
At the same time, it’s helpful to put into action a variety of strategies and tactics that can help to eradicate these behaviours once and for all.
Here are 10 suggestions for you to experiment with.
Consistently Learn from Mistakes
Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances. Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently tomorrow and in the future.
The more you reflect and learn, the better prepared you will be to face these scenarios in the future.
Think Bigger and Bolder
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. When we have a narrow focus, we fail to see the bigger picture.
Given this, it can, therefore, be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder. This can help you to expand your understanding and perspective of the situation.
Ask Better Questions
Questions are the keys to the locks that hold our problems in place.
Asking better and more effective questions, we naturally gain a different perspective on our situation. This can help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives.
What have I learned from this experience?
What would I do differently given another opportunity?
What could the potential benefits be?
How will changing my response allow me to get what I want faster?
The questions you ask will help expand your choices and options moving forward. Giving yourself more choices and options you will be in a better position to work through your self-sabotaging behaviours in optimal ways.
Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment
Just like we did not master the process of walking in one day, changing old habits will also not happen in one day. However, it does happen over time.
When you took your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the mechanics of walking. It was one of your little life experiments that I imagine you succeeded at over time. 🙂
The process of change is precisely the same. Treat it as an experiment that will take some time and effort.
You will probably not be victorious after the first or even second attempt. However, over time you will get better at it as long as you persist. Eventually you will win the war over your self-sabotage patterns.
Seek Advice from Other People
It’s important to always ask for help .Seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you are currently struggling with. Trust me, you are not the only one who is /or has gone through this. They know from personal experience the struggles you are likely to face along the way. They will, therefore, be more than happy to give you practical advice and suggestions that have helped them; to try. You never know if one of those pearls of wisdom will allow you to move beyond your self-sabotage patterns.
Make Sure to Plan in Advance
We often struggle through life when we do not know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold.
However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, we begin taking control of our lives.
While laying out these plans; take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along the way. Acknowledge that obstacles may exist, then consider how you will respond if or when these occur. Even if you don’t deal with these effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience. This will allow you to adjust your approach the next time around.
Focus on Exploring Solutions
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life only leads to further challenges.
Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins by asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding answers, insights, and ideas, not problems.
Adjust Your Expectations
Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it is so important to always keep our expectations in-check. Managing expectations ensure that we are not aiming too high too quickly and allow us to avoid disappointment.
Set your expectations high, however, give yourself permission to be flexible to make changes should your circumstances, conditions, and resources change.
Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. You instead mastered it over time. The same is true when it comes to mastering your own behaviour patterns.
Take Intelligent Risks
You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to snap out of old unresourceful limiting patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you.
The best time to start making changes was yesterday. The second best time is Right Now.
The only person can make the change is YOU.
Take Time for Self-Reflection
The people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to consistently think through their daily choices, decisions, and actions.
Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.
Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.
Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes; pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin.
It is therefore, up to us to make the decision that we will no longer fall prey to our self-sabotaging patterns of behavior ever again.
The choice is yours. It’s in your hands. You now know what to do and how to do it. The real question is when will you get started? When will you finally commit to putting an end to the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from living the life you truly desire to live? Are your goals worth making the change? Are you worth making the change? 🙂
What have you done to change your limiting beliefs? Leave a comment – I would love to hear from you.
Hello there hope you are having a fabulous week.
So I have been reading this book about mindset and this thought crossed my mind. I wonder how many other people may need to read some of these pearls of wisdom I have been reading. I then realised that you may not have the time or the interest in reading a book on mindset and how our thoughts influence our daily lives. More importantly how our thoughts can change our reality.
I know I was a bit skeptical at first too but I kept reading anyway. I came to realise this is not magic, its not some new age pop-psychology or even something reserved for those “enlightened gurus” or “flower-power” types. It is all quite real and surprisingly well researched. In fact it is used very successfully by many people who many of us know [maybe not personally but we know who they are].
You know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is right – like him or loath him go read his story. There are many like him who have used these little pearls and have made remarkable changes in their lives.
Truthfully what do you have to loose – that was my view anyway so I decided to give it a bash. I have only just started so will let you know how it goes. Why not give it a try and let me know how your reality changes. Or maybe just try it for sniffs-and-giggles and see what happens. Looking forward to hearing from you.
So here goes the first little pearl of wisdom I came across.
Visualization is using your imagination to see yourself in a situation that hasn’t yet happened, picturing yourself having or doing the thing you want, and successfully achieving the results you desire.
- Decide what you want to do or have.
- Relax. Spend several minutes unwinding so that you are comfortable in body and mind.
- Spend five to ten minutes visualizing the reality you want.
The mental pictures we indulge in, become a blueprint for our goals, a mold into which we pour our energy.
The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.
Strong and concentrated thoughts are strong and concentrated forces.
and I’m a bit nostalgic and inspired today after reading an article about a woman whose life started out as an actor in some of those pop-cult type movies and after many were ready to write her off she proclaimed she would never give up and reinvented herself as a teen inspirational author and self help guru of sorts.
It made me think about how her advice and encore career as an undeniable inspiration to teens, could translate to job seekers. Here are my thoughts:
Many of us don’t get the job we want. Some of us do not always love the job we have. The important thing however is to never give up on ourselves in the process. If you are unhappy, unfulfilled, and full of dread when you head to work in the morning, regardless of your age, it’s time to reassess. Sometimes we need to take a minute to refocus our energy into something different and see other possibilities.
Be Open To The Possibilities – Everywhere
Consider the areas that people seem to consistently see you as the go-to person for advice about their lives. You may realise that this is an area you know something about. What is that “thing” you get asked about in your circle of friends? Are you an expert handyman? Do you feel comfortable discussing sex with your children, while your friends are blushing at the thought? Are you handy with a paintbrush? Consider it might be right under your nose; if you only are open to them.
Don’t Listen To The Naysayers
Oh, sure, the media will give you all the bad news and support for your miserable case if you look for it. Instead, have some discipline and push those news feeds away like it’s something you are allergic to! We have all been told that we a really bad at something or the other in our life – the important thing is to not allow that to stop you
As you find the new directions that fulfill you and you start to get better at these new ventures you will be the one enjoying the last laugh – guaranteed.
Job seekers, can learn a lot from reinvention.Many people have reinvented themselves and successfully so, you’re not down for the count until YOU say it’s over.
I recently had coffee with an old school mate who I hadn’t seen in many years.
As we caught up on each others’ personal and professional lives, we also updated each other on news about fellow friends we both knew. She filled me in on one friend who I hadn’t seen or heard from in a very long time and started by saying, “I have to tell you about ___. This is the greatest career story.”
My friend proceeded to tell me the juiciest story about all the drama that unfolded at this woman’s current employer. It was rich with details, full of highs and lows, and ended with our mutual friend landing a promotion. When it was over, she said, “Isn’t that an incredible story?” I thought, “Good? It could be a movie!” She knows me well. I’m always looking to celebrate success stories over at Your Future in Your hands.
Why Some Career Stories Are More Memorable Than Others
As I analyzed what made that story so gripping, I realized it had all the elements of the most captivating books I had read or movies I had ever watched. There was a:
- terrible obstacle to overcome
- evil sidekicks
- mild-mannered (yet powerful!) allies
- lots of unexpected turns of events(and most importantly)
- happy ending
We ALL Have Career Stories
Each of us has a career story. It’s the way we summarize and share what has happened in our professional lives. They explain where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are trying to go. These stories are very important to our success. Why? When we share them, they create our personal brand. The better the story, the more likely people will connect with our message. These stories are especially important when we are trying to affect change in our career (i.e. get a promotion, a new job, switch careers, start a business ,etc.) These stories become our “marketing message” – and if they aren’t good, our ability to succeed suffers. For more evidence on the power of stories in your career, read fellow LinkedIn writer, Peter Guber’s article here on our “hunger” for a good story.
Bad Career Story? It’s Time to Change the Plot
When a client comes to me and is miserable in their career, the story I hear usually sounds a lot like a fairy-tale that stops short of its happy ending. There’s plenty of drama, but the story lacks key elements – just like a bad movie with a weak plot or badly written book. I often tell them, “If you cannot get your happy ending with your career story told this way in your head, it’s time to change the plot.” We then work through their mindset towards their situation, slowly changing their assumptions and perceptions, until finally, it can be told in a different way. When that happens, a happy ending usually comes into view.
FYI – In my next post, I will share an example of how this works. I’ll introduce you to Mike, who I helped go from “poor me” to “woo hoo” with his career story. (CLICK HERE >> to read it now.)
What do you think makes a juicy career story? How can people be more memorable (in a good way!) when they share their career stories?
If you want to read more of what I’ve written, https://www.career-coach.co.za/blog/
P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for LinkedIn, but I’m also founder of a popular career advice site, Develop Your DREAM CAREER. I hope you’ll check it out!