Is Your Inner Critic Running Your Career?

For a while now, there has been a lot of buzz around the “growth mindset.” Carol Dweck wrote a fabulous book on the topic, titled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. 

One of the important aspects of gaining a growth mindset is that it helps us leave judgment at the door, and embrace a new perspective that opens us up to a multitude of options. 

In coaching, I sometimes ask my clients to walk to a different place in the room and see what the issue looks like from that vantage point. Changing our point of view requires that we step out of ourselves and look at whatever the issue is from an entirely different viewpoint.  

Children can easily change their point of view, especially in imaginative play.  They ask themselves crazy questions such as,  “What will the swing set look like if I lay on the ground and look up? “ Or  “What happens if I try a cardboard box rather than a plastic saucer to slide down a snow-covered hill? Crazier still, “Let’s have a race where we all run backwards.  Who will be the fastest? ”  

This is how a growth mindset thinks! By changing our point of view, we let our creative minds find options for our careers and life.  

When we become “grownups” and face life’s crises and problems, we learn to use our rational (or analytical) mind to solve problems. The rational mind analyzes a situation or choice based primarily on past experiences and/or data. It loves a definitive yes or no and gets energized by pro/con lists. But if you’re not careful, your rational mind can evolve into the Inner Critic and take control of ALL your decisions.  Now we all need that inner critic to stay safe in life and death ways. It wants you to know that if you do something crazy like run into a busy street, you’ll get hurt.  Your inner critic’s job is to keep you safe. 

But you don’t want your inner critic running your career and life! 

Check-in.  Are you hearing feedback such as, ”You can’t do that!”  “You can’t pivot into a new position, ask for a raise, write a book, or start a business!”  “ Are you crazy??”  A favorite of the inner critic is  “You have a great job, why are you asking for more? ”  Fabulous and new possibilities are not part of the inner critic’s process.  Therefore, if you hand off the controls of your life to your inner critic, you’ll definitely stay stuck. You’ll be safe but stuck.  

Try something different. Connect to the kid inside you. No matter what your age, deep inside, you are still that kid.  And that kid is the keeper of your creative thinking. 

In coaching my clients, they will often do mind mapping that results in what I call  “Odyssey Plans. ”  This is about identifying the options you want to explore for your career and life.  Writing out Odyssey plans can help you visualize what that option would look in one year, three years, or longer. In addition, you get to explore all the questions you have about each possibility and identify where to get answers to those questions. Your next step will be to “prototype” while you try on the options. 

If this all sounds a little structured, it is. Remember, dreams without actions are just wishes. We need to dream but we also need to “do.” 

Contact me if you are ready to get started “doing” your dreams. 

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Author: Sharri Harmel

For over 20 years, I have coached professionals from the C-Suite to middle management and millennials to new professionals. I now coach individuals who are focused on creating something better in their next career stage and truly inspired and committed to getting started!