“There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask, "What if I fall?" Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Ok, I know its Wednesday and not Tuesday, but it’s a short week and I have also just started my corporate seat where there is plenty of information to absorb, so let’s just go with it.
This week I wanted to talk about limiting beliefs and self-confidence, both of which can sometimes stop us from achieving our personal and professional goals.
Many of us have been guilty of talking ourselves out of something for a number of reasons which we formulate in our minds, based on past experiences or the fear of being pushed outside of our comfort zones. We may think that we are not quite “ready”, or we may have concerns about how other people will perceive us if our goals and aspirations differ from the norm.
We can often live in the fear that if it doesn’t go to plan, we may be viewed as a failure and we would rather not try at all, as opposed to making ourselves vulnerable and having to deal with the consequences.
It was roughly three years ago that I came across a paralegal role at a large technology company. I was a year into my first paralegal position and whilst I enjoyed it, I had always envisioned myself working in the city at a large corporation at some point in my career. I wanted a change, but I almost felt guilty for this given that there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with my current role. I also felt as though I was incredibly lucky to be employed at all after a summer of countless rejections (which you can read more about here) and I feared that I was potentially getting a bit too “big for my boots” by wanting something different.
When I think about my current mindset, I almost can’t believe that I used to let these thoughts hold back. At 22 I was already limiting myself and ignoring my aspirations because I allowed these negative thoughts to consume my mind. I resisted pushing myself any further due to the fear that I would fall short and then have to go back to the drawing board.
What was so wrong with wanting more?
What was so wrong with being curious and wanting to explore the wealth of opportunities out there?
What if actually, me pushing myself did lead to great things?
Well, I was never going to know if I didn’t try.
I looked at life as though it was a half empty glass and my mind would instantly default to “I don’t think I will get it” as opposed to “I’m going to give it my best shot”. I had mentally downplayed my goals and aspirations because thinking outside of the box made me more uncomfortable than staying where I was. The reality was that if I didn’t go after what I wanted, I would only have myself to blame for not even trying at all and more importantly, I was the only one who would be able to create the life I wanted for myself.
We can often get stuck being so comfortable that to change our path slightly seems far too scary or wide reaching when actually, growth begins outside of your comfort zone. Whilst being content and happy is important, going after what you want should not be compromised and there is no benefit of holding yourself back due to the fear of failing or other limiting beliefs you may have. A new opportunity could be the thing that opens up several doors for you, but how will you know if you won’t put yourself out there. You won’t. So, what are you waiting for?
I went for the job, and I got it. Did I get every job I went for since then? No. There were setbacks and more rejections, but I began to see things very differently and embraced that this was just part of life. Did that job open up more doors and opportunities for me? Yes. There will always be more opportunities if you look for them and so by no means should the fear of failure stop you from going after what you truly want when you only get one chance at life.
There is nothing lost from failing. If anything, you gain several learnings about the areas for improvement which you can work on for next time. In a career context, I don’t truly think that anything should be viewed as a “failure” and instead, we should see it as an opportunity to improve and try again. The only real failures are the missed opportunities and chances that you didn’t take and there is nothing lost from trying.
To my younger self who hesitated to go after what she wanted due to self-doubt and limiting beliefs, and to anyone else who at some point in their lives has held themselves back:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more in any aspect of your life including your career, provided that you are prepared to put the work in to get there. It won’t fall on your lap
Stop waiting until you are “ready” and just go for it. In pushing yourself, you will unknowingly inspire others to do the same
Make sure you choose the life you want, and you don’t settle for it
My mum has several of Nelson Mandela’s books and I remember her sharing his 1994 Inaugural Speech with me years ago, so I wanted to share it with you too. I actually think I might get it framed in my new place just as a daily reminder/pick me up.
Let me know what you think.