By E. Elizabeth Carter
How often do you completely let go? In other words, when was the last time you just stopped running on that hamster wheel of life and took a real break from the action? It is important to take time-outs periodically in order to have the opportunity to unleash your inner self. This is not just about spending a quick moment to “stop and smell the roses” but instead hitting the pause button for a period of time.
The issue with doing this is that we have a tendency to unleash our inner critic. It is bad enough that we are bombarded 24/7 with negative news and images so why would we want to focus on negative things about ourselves? Is it because we have too high expectations of others and then we feel obligated to even be harder on ourselves?
You need to just stop! All this negativity does not help you with your career journey. Instead it actually can do the opposite. By constantly berating ourselves we lose confidence and motivation to take on new opportunities/jobs/promotions. There is also the potential that your negativity will affect others including family, friends, and your teammates. Negativity is a very powerful emotion so it is hard at times to let go.
The first way to reverse these thoughts is to have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself. Identify positive attributes that you possess and write them down. If you are struggling with this exercise ask others but it is advisable to at least attempt to start it on your own. As you create your list, keep track of how many times negative thoughts come into your head. As an example, you may have written down that you are a good speaker but as soon as it is on the paper you start thinking about the small pause you took or that you jumbled a sentence a little on your last presentation. The question is “did anyone notice?” Probably not! So why are you haranguing yourself?
Keep in mind that no one is perfect. The media, the shows we watch, and even celebrities seem to portray “perfection” but that is not reality. No brand of lipstick, or sports car, or multi-million dollar home is going to make one’s life perfect. Some people equate success with objects one possesses, vacations one takes, and even to some extent the people one seems to be friends with. In actuality, these symbols can mask what the person is really feeling.
To me, the definition of success is happiness. It is holistic in that it should embrace all facets of your life and make you feel fulfilled. During your career journey, remind yourself that whatever path you take be kind to yourself even if the path leads to a dead-end. There is always a way to turn around and take another route.