Do you talk to your friends and family about wanting to do something different in your professional life, yet despite all the talk, you can't seem to take action? Do you get frustrated with yourself for not being able to make change and staying stuck? Have you been in the same role in your career or your business for some time and want to make change, but you can't seem to actually do it?
I went through this in my career as a medical doctor. I was stuck for over 10 years before I managed to make a change and I’m on a mission to help you not give up on your ambitions like I (nearly) did. Years ago, come the end of the week, I’d be out with my friends, talking about my big ideas, hopes and dreams of doing something different. I spoke to my family, I discussed it with my husband, and often complained about my unhappiness. Despite all of this I never seemed to do anything about it.
However, I couldn't shake the niggling feeling that I wanted to do something different. I simply knew that I wanted to, and had to do, something else. I just couldn't bring myself to take the next step.
Staying stuck has a price to pay:
In my experience, and in my work, I see that staying stuck eventually takes its toll. In my case staying stuck in a line of work that wasn't right for me, had an impact on my mental health and on my physical health. So much so that I was forced to take stock and figure out how I was going to take action and move forwards.
If any of my story resonates with you, know that you're not alone. So many clients come to me with a desire, a dream or an aspiration to do something different with their work. They are very clear about the fact that they want to make a change. Yet, the interesting thing is that despite the fact that they know they want to make change, they struggle to commit to take the first steps.
This leads me to one big question: why?
Why is it that when you know you really want change, and that you need change, you still can't find a way to take action?
Why do we remain stuck?
What is holding us back in the first place?
(Another!) medical analogy:
A good doctor would not sit and listen to a long list of ailments and concerns and then simply hand over a prescription. When I was practicing medicine, I had to get to the root cause of what was underlying the symptoms if I were to deliver an effective treatment.
This is why the first step of my coaching program is what I call ‘digging for a diagnosis’.
If you want to make impactful and lasting change, you need to understand why you are stuck in the first place. What is holding you back? Why are you not at your full potential? When you know the truth behind these questions, then you can actually do something about it.
6 reasons that could be keeping you stuck:
(Good news: it is not because you're lazy or don't care about your future.)
Self limiting beliefs.
Benefits to staying stuck.
The paradox of success.
Sunk cost fallacy.
Self limiting beliefs:
One of the most common factors.
A self limiting belief is a false or inaccurate beliefs that you hold about yourself or the world around you. It restricts you in some way.
They feel and they seem really true, but yet they are false.
Examples: I am not enough; I am too old; There isn’t any time; I’m not smart enough; I’m not someone who will make a success of this etc.
They usually come from some sort of compensatory or coping mechanism that you've developed early on in your life.
Benefits to staying stuck:
Staying stuck has its benefits. In Britt Frank’s book, The Science of Stuck https://www.scienceofstuck.com/ she talks about the perks of staying stuck.
Staying stuck prevents you from stepping outside of your discomfort zone.
It protects you from difficult emotions.
For example: if you were to fail you think you may experience emotions such as - anxiety about what others may think of you, embarrassment, shame, hopelessness etc. Staying stuck prevents you from these challenging emotions.
On some level, your brain wants to keep you safe and keep you in the familiar.
It can be hard to admit that there are benefits to staying stuck. But once you see this in yourself, it really helps you begin to make change.
What are you getting out of staying stuck?
Paradox of success:
The paradox of success occurs when you are capable, hardworking and you become really good at some aspect/s of your career or business.
You become so good, that you become the go-to-person for this thing. More and more people come to you with their demands and requests.
Two things can happen:
You become increasingly inundated with requests and demands to do more and more of the thing that you don't really want to be doing, you get so overwhelmed that performance begins to suffer. Paradoxically, you are not as successful in this thing.
You spend all your time being really successful in an area that you don't really want to be focusing. You then have no time left for doing the things that you really want to, including investing in making a change.
So be careful what you say yes to!
Wanting everything to be ‘just so’ before you're able to take action can really hold you back and prevent you from making progress.
If you (like me) struggle with perfectionism, it can come from a deep seated fear of getting things wrong. From wanting to avoid the awful feeling you get when you know that you have failed in some way.
If you're a perfectionist, you're probably asking yourself: what if I make this change and I fail? In order to feel safe, you feel that you may need to be 100% prepared before you take steps to make change. Unfortunately, the reality is you will never be 100% prepared.
There is always going to be some sort of leap of faith that you need to take if you want to do something different in your life.
Sunk cost fallacy:
When you have spent years pursuing a specific career path, and have invested time and money into your education and pursuing your path, it is very difficult to ‘give this up’.
You may feel like you are throwing away your money and time you’ve invested.
Like a bad investment: you continue to throw good money in after bad, despite knowing at some stage you will need to change.
When you made a decision about what sort of a person you are and what sort of a path you wanted to follow several years ago. You committed to that identity and perhaps pinned your ego to it ‘way back when’.
Giving up on that identity can be a very difficult thing to do.
E.g. being convicted about being a lawyer in your early 20s and it being pivotal to your identity, makes it hard to let go of 10 years later.
Change experts say in order to make impactful and lasting change requires the formation of a new identity.
You need to be able to let of an identity you were convicted about, that no longer serves you.
Which one of these 6 areas are keeping you stuck?
When you know better you do better:
This is one of my favorite phrases. So if you know you're stuck and you begin to ‘dig for the diagnosis’ about why you're stuck, you can then address the root cause.
It is no longer good enough for you to continue talking about change without actually taking action. You deserve to give yourself the chance to do something about it.
Look at these 6 areas and examine your current situation. Why aren’t you at your best in your work? Why are you talking about making change but not actually doing it? Why are you not fulfilling your true potential.
Doing this work on your own can be really hard, and you can find yourself going around in circles: did you know I offer a completely free strategy call where I see how I may be able to help you take action. My aim is to help you build a powerful professional path so that you can really excel in your chosen field. Click any of the ‘free call buttons’ on my site www.alicepennmd.com