I had a call with an executive-level client this week who is generally unhappy with the direction his career is going, despite the fact that he has quite the nice (and work-life balanced!) set-up with a brand-name, stalwart-type New York firm coveted by most people. I wanted to share the epiphany he had that may resonate with some of you reading this. After peeling back layer after layer of why this guy felt frustrated, why he wasn’t finding “his next great role,” and why nothing seemed to be working out for him, I realized — and so did he, finally, that his attitude had been holding him back; he was his biggest obstacle to happiness, and ultimate career satisfaction.
Time after time, it turned out, opportunities did find him, but each time they did, he figured out a way to justify why and how they were actually terrible for him and why he shouldn’t pursue a role at a new firm. He then started to self-sabotage by allowing his frustration (built up now over several years) with “not finding anything” to affect his performance in his current job. As a result, he hasn’t seen a raise since Bush the second was still in office, and he was barely ranked as average relative to his peers this past review cycle, which is his industry’s subtle hint that it’s time for him to go.
So how can this story be helpful to you? Well, number one, realize that your attitude can have a significant impact on your career. Concentrating on the positive and viewing opportunities that arise with a sense of optimism — however limited that optimism may be — is far preferable to a worldview that may have become overly cynical from years and years of exposure in the pressure-cooker that is working in this city. This client of mine basically trolled opportunity to its face, and he faced the consequences. Attitude is everything and how you view your circumstances (half full vs. half empty) play a leading role in how you approach all situations — things career related, as well. So let this be a lesson, one that I hope you won’t have to learn the hard way.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.