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Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Have you ever found yourself judging your internal experience by looking at others’ external demeanour? Or to put it another way, judging your behind-the-scenes preparations against someone else’s ‘highlights reel’? From a career development perspective, this is a mindset well worth avoiding.

In the ‘old days’ (pre-Zoom), we might go for a job interview and end up sitting with the other candidates, nervously waiting to be called in for our ‘grilling’, or maybe sweating through the ordeal of an assessed group exercise.

If you’ve been in that situation, maybe you can recall the distinct feeling that everyone else seemed calm, confident and generally together while you were focussing on your sweaty palms, shaky voice, and the fluttering of butterflies in your stomach. You might have had a similar experience on your first day at a new school, or a new job, or in a particularly high stakes meeting where you’ve wondered ‘am I the only one here who doesn’t quite get it?’

The American writer Anne Lamott is credited with the instruction ‘don’t judge your insides by other peoples’ outsides’ The thing is, we can easily fall into seeing others’ external poise and apparent confidence and comparing it with our own inner unease when that comparison isn’t valid-because we can’t see what’s going on in their heads.

Or we may be the one struggling to find a direction for our career, and thinking that everyone else seems to have theirs sorted. This is usually an illusion.

Left unchecked, the tendency to judge our insides by others outsides can seriously stifle our willingness to take chances, put ourselves forward for opportunities, and express our honest opinion on something that’s really important to us. In short, the effects can be limiting to our career and to life in general.

So, in that interview waiting area, that new team you’ve joined, or that high stakes meeting, it’s really worth remembering that others are probably experiencing something similar to you. They might even be looking at you and thinking ‘he/she seems to have it all together!’ The truth is we are all ‘muddling through’ in one way or another, putting on our ‘fake it to make it’ face and often just putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next breath to keep going.

See Hollywood actor Rob Lowe’s personal and powerful take on not judging our insides by other peoples outsides here Rob Lowe: “Don’t Judge Your Insides by Someone Else’s Outsides”.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35

 

Accentuating the positive in job seeking and career thinking

Accentuating the positive in job seeking and career thinking

Accentuating the positive in job seeking and career thinking

Regulating our intake of negative news is regarded as a healthy habit for keeping out outlook on life positive and balanced, and maintaining a more optimistic view of the future. This principle translates well to the way we think about ourselves, when there are demonstrable benefits to our enjoyment of life and to job seeking and our career prospects, of keeping in mind our skills, our achievements and the positive potential for our future.

I’ve lost count of late of the number of posts and articles I’ve seen on self-care and wellbeing strategies that recommend limiting your intake of news media.

If news media are there as a service to keep us informed and up to date with what’s going on in the world, why should we limit our consumption of it? I guess one obvious answer is that with 24/7 rolling news media on tap, we can easily let it consume our time and distract us from doing other things that might be more productive.

A second reason is that much news media-reliant as it is on ratings-has a bias towards the dramatic How Negative News Distorts Our ThinkingPsychology Today (meaning negative more often than not) which can affect our view of the world and in turn our mental health. The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequencesThe Guardian

This is not to deny that the last year has presented us with more than enough bad stuff-the pandemic and all its social, economic, and health consequences. Yet, there is value to taking another perspective and thinking of the resilience, creativity, and acts of kindness that a crisis like our current one can produce. I was very heartened to come across The Year in Cheer article from Reasons to Be Cheerful, sharing 112 items of positive news stories from 2020. There are some real gems here that you won’t have seen covered in the usual media outlets- some great examples of human creativity, resilience, and kindness.

If it’s worth looking beyond the mainstream media for some hidden gems of good news, it will also be worth going through a similar process with yourself.

If you’ve had a rough ride, jobs or education-wise, in recent times, negative thoughts and feelings are a natural and understandable response. But it can be incredibly valuable to work on finding the positives in yourself and your situation.

Some suggestions to help with this process:

  • Make a list of all the people in your personal network; people who can vouch for you, write a testimonial, remind you of your skills and personal qualities, or just provide emotional/psychological support. See this article from Glassdoor on how you can use your networks to help you 4 Ways to Leverage Your Network To Survive The Current Job Market – Glassdoor
  • Write a list of your successes from previous jobs, courses, voluntary or community work, leisure activities. Times when you’ve helped someone, made or saved money, created something new, been part of a winning team, overcome a big challenge. If you’re struggling to remember them, get the people above to remind you.
  • Use the above to revamp your CV and Linked In profile (if you don’t have one-time to create one)
  • Find out what sectors are doing well and growing. There are always some that are-and they will include roles that aren’t necessarily obvious to most of us.
    Here are some articles you can use to help with looking;
    Jobs on the Rise | United Kingdom linkedin.com
    Edge publish latest Skills Shortage BulletinEdge Foundation
  • Identify people in these sectors you can approach and message them
  • Develop a routine to make all of the above regular actions

I know from personal experience that all of this is not easy, that maintaining positivity about ourselves, especially in challenging times like these, can be tough. But I also know that by doing the above regularly, we can get a more positive perspective on ourselves, our value and qualities, and in turn our opportunities.

Remember to keep focussed on the good news about yourself – your skills, your personal qualities, your successes, and your potential.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35

 

Career Decisions: ‘Undecided’ vs ‘indecisive’ – What’s the difference?

Career Decisions: ‘Undecided’ vs ‘indecisive’ – What’s the difference?

Career Decisions: ‘Undecided’ vs ‘indecisive’ – What’s the difference?

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
Rush-Freewill

Have you decided you need a career change? Has a Career Change been forced upon you by recent circumstances? Are you feeling undecided about what to do next and what career path you should follow? Or are you in a state of indecisiveness? For important life decisions such as committing to a potential job or learning opportunity or identifying what kind of work you might do in the future, the difference between undecidedness and indecisiveness is useful to consider.

‘I’m undecided, what should I do’?
Being undecided is a temporary state. If you are undecided, you’re in a normal and natural place when it comes to important life choices. Not that being  undecided is going to feel pleasant, when you may just want to get the decision settled as soon as possible, or when you have a looming decision deadline.

For a decision such as choosing between potential career paths, simultaneous job offers, or college/university courses, there are inevitably many factors to take into consideration, and if we push ourselves to choose just to relieve the temporary state of being undecided, we may neglect to investigate important factors. Thus ending up dissatisfied with the decision we’ve made. So, it’s useful to give yourself as much time as you can to consider the options as coolly as possible from a number of different perspectives by, for example:

  • Making a list of pros and cons for each option and giving each an ‘importance score’ (e.g. if short-term pay level is a less important factor for you than long-term potential to progress this will be reflected in the score you give)
  • Talking to a range of trusted friends, and family
  • Paying attention to what your gut or intuition is telling you
  • Doing online research about the organisations, job roles or courses
  • Think back to previous decisions you’ve made and reflect on what
    worked out and what didn’t and why

‘I’m indecisive! Aaaagh!!! What should I do?’
OK, so being indecisive is more problematic when it comes to making big decisions. Why? Because it’s less of a temporary state, and more of a developed character trait. When we have an established behaviour pattern of being indecisive, it can turn most decisions into ordeals, and can stop us from taking advantage of windows of opportunity that may not open again. We may end up not deciding at all, which is a decision in itself (a choice to avoid making a choice!). If you think you’re indecisive by habit, it’s definitely worth thinking about how you can eliminate, or at least reduce, this trait.

I like these tips from Psychology Today, including the benefits of stopping ‘overthinking’ on decisions; revisiting past decisions that worked out, and the intriguing idea of the ‘miracle question’.

Mindtools has some good resources on decision-making, and here is an interesting take on what makes up The Anatomy of a Great Decision

Do any of these ideas particularly resonate with you when you think about the decisions that are on the horizon for you?

You can get in touch if you’d like some personalised support with an important decision or two.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35

 

Career Planning Strategy – are you a ‘Goal’ or a ‘River’ Person?

Career Planning Strategy – are you a ‘Goal’ or a ‘River’ Person?

Career Planning Strategy – are you a ‘Goal’ or a ‘River’ Person?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else!” That old phrase has been spoken many times as a warning to the unfocussed and unprepared. But it’s a phrase that will have different resonance for you depending on how you think, in relation to your career planning strategy and to life in general. For some of us, the idea of knowing where you’re going, in as much detail as possible, is reassuring and a good way to avoid confusion and fear of an uncertain future. For others, though, a sense of knowing where you’re going too much feels constraining and a potential recipe for a dull life and a predictable future (if such a thing is possible in these craziest of times), and the idea of not knowing where you’re going and ending up somewhere else sounds like an exhilarating ride!

The US writer Earl Nightingale used the analogy of Goal People and River People to identify very different orientations to planning. Goal People “by laying out a roadmap of future achievements in front of them….. give their creative minds a clear set of stimuli to work on. Their subconscious minds can then get to work incubating ideas and insights that will help them to reach their goals” whereas River People “are happiest and most fulfilled when they are wading in a rich “river” of interest — a subject or profession about which they are very passionate. While they may not have a concrete plan with measurable goals, river people are often successful because they are so passionate about their area of interest” So, when thinking about you career strategy, do you resonate more with the River or the Goal approach? Or a combination of both?

Goal-oriented people are more likely to favour the use of SMART goal-setting strategies for their career, identifying goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. River-oriented people, on the other hand will find that approach stifling and will prefer a broad set of aspirations based on passion, purpose and personal principles, combined with an openness to seeing what life serves up.

I suspect that, as we develop over time, those of us with River tendencies start to recognise the benefits of being more goal-focussed and precise, and those of us with Goal tendencies recognise the need to go with the flow a little more, so that we get a more balanced approach incorporating the benefits of both planning styles. Something along the lines of what career theorist John Krumboltz called Planned Happenstance.

In these VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) times, we can all benefit from a sense of direction and a planful approach, but also from steering away from making plans and holding aspirations that are too reliant on ‘definites’.

I can help you to set your career direction, tailored to the style of planning and goal setting you prefer.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35