3 Questions for Turning Self-Doubt into Action
The job search can take a toll on our self-esteem, voices of resistance keep us stuck in self-doubt, but unpacking limiting beliefs lets us move closer to reaching our potential.
I spend a lot of time with people who face an uncertain future due to an unplanned layoff, usually unrelated to their job performance, and often from companies they’d been with for 10+ years.
It’s often traumatic and always seems unfair. These are people who worked hard and were devoted to their careers. They have experience, accomplishments and general likability, but still they find themselves in the place of anxiety and extreme uncertainty the job search process brings.
I’ve been there myself. I moved from my home in Mystic, Connecticut to San Jose, CA in the late nineties. I landed my dream job in the marketing department at Cisco. It was fast-paced and intense, and I loved it, right up until the day the dot-com crash prompted the massive wave of layoffs I found myself caught up in.
The feelings of victimhood, loss of self-worth and depression were hard to shake, but I had to keep moving forward. I was determined not to return to the East Coast with my tail between my legs.
Eventually, I leveraged my network to land a new position with a software company, and from there found my way to my dream job, which I never would have landed at if I hadn’t been laid off.
In my experience as a coach, the right role is always out there, and all of my clients eventually find jobs. Yet the journey can seem a thousand miles, and sometimes too overwhelming to even begin.
I’ve noticed, it’s often the most qualified people whose limiting beliefs keep them stuck in a spiral of self-doubt. In most cases, these beliefs have nothing to do with the external reality as seen by others.
All of us experience unexpected, unwanted and unfair events in our lives. When this happens, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. When combined with a blow to our sense of self-worth, it can be debilitating.
Instead of using this difficult situation to revisit their goals and explore new opportunities many people become stuck, unable to pick themselves up and move forward.
As I listen to clients share their stories, I hear these limiting beliefs arise;
- I’m not qualified to do anything else
- I won’t be able to find a job
- I’ll have to take a pay cut
- I’ll have to move to a new area
- I don’t have enough education
- I’m too old
- I don’t have time to work on it
I recognize the pattern. These are the voices of resistance. It’s this spiral of self-doubt that keeps us stuck in overwhelm.
We are the stories we tell ourselves, so as the author of your story, what do you want others to hear?
If you find yourself feeling stuck in a situation that’s not working for you, the first step is to recreate your story from a place of empowerment. You are the only one who decides what you’re worthy of and knows what you’re truly capable of.
Answer the following 3 questions to break free from the cycle of self-doubt by unpacking limiting beliefs so you can move forward.
- In your heart of hearts, in spite of everything else that’s going on right now, do you believe you’re capable of finding the right job and reaching your career goal?
Circle your answer (no buts): yes or no.
If the answer is no, then revisit your goals and find one you believe is attainable. If the answer is yes, then it’s yes. Just yes. When and how are not presently in question.
Now, think about your goal specifically. As this is a career focused discussion, write down your career goal, and if you’re not clear on the details, as in whether your goal is to work in project management or accounting, generalize it down to the type of role (for example; full time, mid-level, within a 10 mi radius of my house, earning 120,000/yr with benefits, in 8 months).
Awesome, now you’ve got a vision to help shape your path.
2. Fill in the following sentence with a new answer to the question, “what do you do?” Use the following format to develop your answer:
“Right now, I’m spending as much time as possible researching the _______________ industry exploring new opportunities!”
Edit the above until it sounds natural. Say it out loud until you’re ready to repeat it the next time you’re asked.
This simple reframe will help to lower the feelings of inadequacy most people associate with time out of the workforce.
3. What one small action will you take today to move you closer to your goal?
Action not only boosts confidence, it creates clarity. The first step can sometimes be the hardest, so make it achievable and specific.
For example: “Update my resume” when you’re already feeling overwhelmed usually isn’t achievable, in fact the very idea keeps us stuck in overwhelm.
Instead break down bigger goals into specific actionable steps. “Review outdated resume and update contact information” is an actionable first step that will help you to segue into the next step.
“Research job options” is too general in that there are no expectations clarified.
Specify general online research related tasks to keep them time-bound and relevant, like “identify 3 ideal job descriptions online to tailor my resume to.”
Write down your achievable, specific action item:
Now follow through immediately or write it down on your calendar immediately.
The 4th question is a bonus:
How did completing this exercise make you feel?
Please let me know in the comments!
The key to moving from overwhelmed to motivated is in taking action. You have everything you need right now to begin, so make this the starting point.
Use these tools to keep the anxiety at bay and use a daily diet of manageable action items to build your confidence and momentum as you move forward on the path to reaching your goals. Think you’re ready to step into your dream job? Take the quiz!