Are you sabotaging your career?

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut? Do you look at how effortlessly people navigate the world of work and gain success? Do you scroll through Instagram looking at people’s successful lives, flat stomachs and stick on grins and feel envious or spiteful or just a little sad that this isn’t you.. We all have these moments and if people say they don’t they are lying behind a screen of bravado. This comparing ourselves to others can have an effect on how we perform in the work place. Are we living to our potential or are we living to a reality that we feel that we are suited to, have we just assigned ourselves to not really trying? The legendary RuPaul in his show “RuPaul’s Drag race” often talks about people’s “inner saboteur” where we have the philosophy and mind-set that we are going to fail and often that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what are the signs that you are falling for your inner saboteur and you could be in fact sabotaging your own career?

We often either don’t see opportunities or we talk ourselves out of things that could be great opportunities for us. We don’t have time, I need to focus on my proper job rather than have notions of doing something else, besides what happens if I can’t do my own job because I’ve committed to that project. I will just stay where I am. Or we can sit at our desk and think, well if they thought I would be any good for that role then someone would have spoken to me and they haven’t, so they obviously think that I am not capable or ready for that next step. We justify our inaction in our head without really knowing the truth. We convince ourselves that our truth is the truth. We are all guilty of this at one time or another, we get so focused on the tasks at hand that we fail to see the benefits of grasping other opportunites. First of all, if you sit at your desk quietly waiting to be discovered then that generally will not happen. So start asking yourself “why shouldn’t I be able to do it” and if you feel that you are becoming invisible ask yourself, “ Have I made it clear to my boss, what I want to do, what I am capable of”. They too might be so wrapped up in work and thinking that you are quiet because you are happy in your role. Ask yourself “what would happen if I just did it, if I went for that promotion.. what would be the worst thing that could happen?” You might conjur up feelings of failure and ineptitude but how can you say that is the truth. Start by saying Yes and then focus on each task at hand rather than panicking about the whole job or a feeling of dread. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and grasp them.

In the work place we can be easily fooled by a confident persona, a beaming smile and someone who knows what they are talking about. That person may be brilliant or they could be feeling a fraud exactly like you. Either way you can’t control their success or failure but you can to a large degree control your own. We are always comparing ourselves to other people, making judgements in the office and preconceptions of how good people are at their jobs. Some of these things can be based on fact but they might also just be based on your own insecurities. They could also be a result of painful school memories or people you’ve known in the past who’ve been given the limelight so you project that onto the people in the office rather than projecting yourself into the limelight. I often hear people say to me, “I can’t go for this job as such and such is better qualified”, or “this should be Sue (random name)’s job as she has been here for a long time and deserves it. Well it’s dog eat dog sometimes and I am sure Sue is great but if you don’t put yourself in the ring then no one is going to see you. I have been in situations in the past where I’ve gone for jobs that I think I could do and do well only to be told by colleagues that “that should be such and such’s job and you shouldn’t be going for that”. What is happening here is either them projecting their reasons for not going for the role or some weird misplaced loyalty towards their colleague. Respond professionally and with dignity at all times but don’t let other people’s insecurities stop you from trying.

One of the biggest ways we can sabotage ourselves in the work place is not asking for help. We take on more and more work as we want to impress and please but can’t say no and end up drowning in a sea of work and end up not pleasing anyone. We want to look confident and know what we are doing so we don’t ask for help and think we can figure out what’s asked and then just get into an absolute panic and through stubbornness make the whole thing much more complicated. Ask for help, ask for clarity and make sure you know what you are doing. Manage your time well, don’t mess around and leave yourself with loads to do. Ask your boss what you should prioritise, make them aware of your work load. There is a fine line between this and being a needy child though so make decisions but if it’s all getting too much , then do let someone know.

The feeling of not being good enough can resinate and resurface at various times in our lives, or be just a dull aching constant that stops us from creeping out of our comfort zone. I won’t do that as I won’t be good enough. I’m a bit rubbish really, or that idea it’s alright I guess but I am sure people had much better ones. I interview a lot of people and sometimes the most brilliant and talented people can tell me that they were shocked at being interviewed, can downplay their experience or as someone did recently say “everyone here is much better than me”.  All of that is not true, you are capable and you are talented, it is about coming to that realisation yourself. Some people work with gratitude, writing things that they are proud of each day. Some people like to take a more factual approach and look at achievements as things rather than directly connected to you. That sounds weird but if you looked at your CV as if it was someone else’s I am sure that you would rave about all the exciting things that they had done. People don’t want to boast and brag but talk about what you have done and what you want to do as projects rather than reflections of your ego. It’s not arrogant to talk about what you’ve done and it’s not arrogant to reflect what you want to do. Start thinking “why not me…” someone’s going to get that job someone’s going to write that play.. why can’t that be you.. Sometimes are biggest critics are ourselves and we need to be kinder to ourselves.. if you were saying the things you say to yourself about someone else you would be shocked by the cruel way you spoke so learn to be nice to you.. Take it as a day by day process.

I see common mistakes with people starting out their careers and I want to scream “No you are making life difficult for yourself!”, but sometimes people need to learn lessons for themselves. In TV you can’t be 9 to 5 and there will be shoots, and weekend work and other requirements that will be expected of you. If you are rigid and clock watching then ultimately you are limiting future options for yourself. If you are on a shoot and everyone is running around busy and you are on your phone lolling at twitter or swiping right on tinder, then you are not going to be hired again. If you roll your eyes at your boss and furiously whatsapp your colleagues about how mean they are, well they will probably find out and not re hire you. So just behave professionally, when you want to scream obscenaties then bite your tongue and just remember that old adage of treat people how you want to be treated.

So when you see yourself doing these things, take a breath, stop and tell yourself “what are you doing.. this isn’t right.. I am more than capable” and you will be surprised by how easily success comes to you.

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