Young professionals: Top 5 career saboteurs & their antidote
When we leave university to enter the “real world”, most of us leave with enthusiasm and an approximate vision of what we want to do in our future career.
Ambitions are a great thing - they are drivers that motivate us and goals to strive for. It gets tricky, however, if our expectations aren’t met.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2017, 37% of graduates were in non-graduate jobs, raising the question - how easy is it these days to get into the career path that you were aiming for? And a real pay squeeze means that many graduates earn much less than expected, not to mention the fact that many of them have a really hard time to find the job in the first place. According to a study by the graduate recruitment website Totaljobs.com a quarter of all graduates are still looking after a whole year of job search.
All too often the initial enthusiasm of young professionals is battered by a competitive job market, or by their first working environment experience that consumes all of their time and energy, but isn’t their dream job.
The critical outcome is often a wave of self-doubt and/or the crushing feeling that they are unsure of what they’re doing with their lives. A negative spiral that can easily lead to what nowadays is referred to as a ‘quarter-life crisis’.
Let's have a look at the most pressing negative voices that young professionals have to deal with in their early career:
You are not enough
Rejection or brutal silence after unsuccessful applications are not easy to cope with. They enforce what could be called a “universal saboteur”. Almost all of us know this voice that doubts if we are good, strong, talkative, friendly, etc. enough. And let me assure you, you are enough, don't buy into this. Self-awareness is good, talking yourself down doesn't help!
You are too... young
Another potent one, we've often learned in childhood: “You are too loud, too frank, too... (fill in the blank)”. When entering the workforce as a junior member of the team we often hesitate to be our true selves, wary to step on people's toes. Know that while an attitude of an open mind and willingness to learn from the elder is good, don't diminish your opinions and thoughts because you feel too young etc.
What if... I don't succeed
Listening to the “What if” voices in your head is a surefire way to feeling trapped as it will have you paint theoretical horror scenarios on a regular basis. Try to re-frame your scenarios in the most positive way: what if you succeed? And you will have the confidence to take step by step action again.
That's not what people ‘like me’ do
With this belief we often find ourselves in the you should...you ought to... realm of expectation and comparisons. Have you grown up in a family of doctors or intellectuals, so becoming an artist is “weird” or the other way round? You are forging your own path.
What another person will think about you or tell you to do is nowhere as important as what you know to be true about yourself, so make sure to weigh your options accordingly. A bit of realism might be good as long as it doesn't suffocate what is possible when you tap into optimism and your powerful self.
I just don't know
I don't know what I want. I don't know if this is right for me. When I look into my future, I just see a lot of blurry clouds. That is because your “I don't know saboteur” has their grip on you. When you recognise that and step into a perspective of clarity, e.g. a calm lake or mountain top view. You are likely to find that you know quite well what you don’t want and from there you can move on to what is of interest to you.
Managing in the inner critic
Job search and survival in a competitive job market is already hard enough, don't become your own worst enemy. Know that when you feel deflated, hopeless and negative, there is most likely a critical voice present in your head.
In order to manage this voice, make yourself a little more familiar with it at first, e.g. create an image that represents them, give them a name and learn how to recognise them quickly.
Then you’re in a position where you can say: “Thank you, I've heard your concerns, but in order to move on and stay active, let's cut the crap."
Actively choose to listen to a less fearful and more powerful inner voice of yours. Look for your allies, they have sometime been shushed by the loud critics, but we all have them. And from there, move forward in your early career.