Psst… You’re Not Failing in Your Career

career burnout

There are three things that almost every professional does that ultimately sabotages our careers:

We immediately blame ourselves when something breaks. Every mistake flares up our “I hope that wasn’t me…” thoughts.

We focus more on covering our tracks than on discovering solutions to the problem because our fear of being fired is taking up all our brain space.

We smile and nod through our internal panic when someone asks about the status of a project we’re working on, overwhelming ourselves with “I knew I was moving too slow on this…” thoughts.

Been there. Done that. Burned out.

And you know what I learned? That the fear of being fired or “called out” just means we’ve given someone else full reign over our career. Spinning out into a panic isn’t a power move. It diminishes our power. Like a helpless leaf floating wherever the wind wants it to go.

Remember, your life purpose vs. a single project or client or company are two very separate things.

No one can ever fire you from your purpose.

And the rest? Those are just pebbles along your journey. One pebble doesn’t make or break the path you’re walking.

Think back to the start of your career when you had “fun” jobs that weren’t tied up to your entire self-worth… like maybe working at a restaurant during your undergrad days. When I look back to my restaurant days, those were some of my favourite times! So many of my closest friends today are from those days. And you know what our favourite memories are? All of our mess-ups. Those times we walked into a screen door with a full tray of drinks. Or those times we spilled a glass of wine on the table. Or those times we forgot to punch in someone’s order on the busiest night of the summer. Those memories are so strong because it was in those moments that we rallied together. Someone spilled a tray of drinks? No problem. One server was already out fetching the broom, another was picking up the mess, another was already at the bar getting a new round of drinks made. Aside from having blushed cheeks for the rest of your shift, no life-altering damage was ever done. There’s an inherent trust and support and respect that we had for each other that we were all doing our best. That our intentions were good. That we had each other’s backs. Most importantly, that we were more than our small mistake on the job.

Somewhere along the way, we can lose the fun and joy in our work. We can become very serious working professionals. (I hope you read that in a hoity-toity voice).

At some point, our work stops being a means to an end, but the end itself. The finale. Our compass of self-worth. Our value card in society.

We no longer have a greater career vision. The thing in front of us is the full vision. We pigeon-hole our self-worth into the task in front of us instead of the dream ahead of us.

And when we do that?

We put our entire self-worth on a silver platter and hand it over to our boss or client or business.

Isn’t it interesting how every entrepreneur says, with pride, how they’re “ruined for the traditional 9-5”?

How they brag about being fired in their youth?

How their ambition was too strong for manipulative workplaces?

Actually, I just had a brilliant idea for a tv show… The Simple Life but instead of wealthy socialites, we have ambitious entrepreneurs re-join the workforce. On second thought, isn’t that what’s happening with the current state of work?

“The Great Resignation” is exactly that: employees realizing that, wait a minute, an angry boss doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it just means my boss is an asshole (read: filled with their own insecurities and projecting onto others). Or that being late by ten minutes to the office doesn’t mean I’m an untrustworthy employee, it just means my boss is an untrusting dictator (read: filled with their own insecurities and projecting onto others).

Why is it that the more mature and super serious we become with our super duper important jobs,

The more we lose our power?

It’s like back in our childhood when our parents concocted games of who could clean their room the fastest. Oh how superior we felt to have won! But oh how played we were!

Our careers can become the same. If someone says “Jump!” and you immediately ask “How high?!” then I have to ask… who holds the power over your career?

None of us are immune to these games…

Whenever I start to feel like I’m failing or doing something wrong or feeling the dreaded “not enough-ness”, it’s usually because the see-saw of my career motivation has shifted from fulfillment to fear.

Here’s what I mean…

When we work from fulfillment, we dive into work that stretches us and teaches us new skills so that we can enrich our lives through our work.

When we work from fear, we drop all of our boundaries and drain ourselves emotionally and physically so that we can do our job perfectly.

I wish we could pin down that see-saw, but we can’t. It moves. You could be sitting on career fulfillment for a year straight and then a little butterfly flutters by and distracts you and BAM! you’re sitting on the side of fear. Or you lose track of which side you’re sitting on entirely.

So here are two questions to ask yourself:

Are you trying to do your job perfectly today?

Or are you pinching yourself with how enriched your life feels from the growth you’re experiencing in your current situation?

I hope you’re pinching yourself right now.

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