Almost everyone has a goal they want to achieve in their career by why aren’t they taking action on them?
You know you should be doing it and genuinely want to do it. You know all the great things that could result when you reach your goal. But you don’t take the action. I find myself feeling motivated and telling myself tomorrow is the day to take action, and then I don’t. I’m sure many of you feel this way too. We come up with excuses. Maybe we decide that we are too busy. We find something else that we “need” to get done before we can work on this goal.
What is it that stops you from going for your goal?
If you know all of the great things that you’ll get from doing it. Why are you not taking action on your goal? Knowing the positive consequences is great, but you need to look at the negative consequences as well. Negative consequences are just as important but they can be difficult to pinpoint. It’s rational to think the positive consequences are what matter most and we should only focus on those.
Let’s take an example of Jane going for a promotion at her current company. It’s one step up the ladder for her in the same department. The opportunity for promotion doesn’t come up often in this department. She passed on the opportunity in the past. Jane would tell herself she’d go for it next time. She didn’t think she’d stop herself the next time but here she is, not applying.
The positive consequences are that
- Jane would get a big raise.
- She would be eligible for a bonus.
- Jane gets to move out of her beige cubicle to an office with a door.
- The position will open a lot of doors for her if she were to ever leave.
The posting for the position has been available for two weeks and Jane hasn’t applied yet. She is running out of time and the deadline is soon.
Jane is procrastinating.
Now why the heck wouldn’t Jane go for that? This promotion sounds amazing! What is wrong with her?
I believe there are valid, real and true reasons she wouldn’t go for it. There is nothing wrong with Jane for stalling and there is nothing wrong with her. The problem is that she isn’t dealing with it. Here are some of the consequences playing in her unconscious mind.
- She isn’t confident in her skills and she is scared that she is just setting herself up to fail.
- How would her coworkers feel if she “left them behind?”
- Jane is worried that the promotion is going to be too many working hours.
- Jane’s friends and family might judge her for being in a “too good for us” job,
- This promotion would cause Jane to make more than her spouse. She is worried that her spouse may feel threatened.
But sometimes these negative consequences are playing in your unconscious mind. You don’t even know they are there. Jane isn’t aware of them.
If you aren’t taking action, you need a plan to find out what these consequences are and take action on them.
We actually learned how to figure these out in elementary school. The 5 W’s and H. We can answer these questions in a journal or talking it out with someone so we can stop wondering why we haven’t taken action.
- Who – When you think of the action you aren’t taking, who is the first person to pop into your head?
- What – What do you think the person you mention above will think if you take the action?
- Where – Where is the change going to occur?
- When – When is this going to affect you or them?
- Why – Why do you think this?
- How – How will you address it?
Let’s look at the promotion example again that Jane is going through.
Who – Jane thinks of her coworkers in her department. What – They’ll think she is leaving them behind and they’ll lose her as a friend since most people aren’t able to be friends with a boss. Where – She’ll move from a cubicle to an office with a door on the other side from her current location. When – They coworkers would start treating her differently immediately. Why– Jane was part of conversations talking about another coworker who got promoted n the past. That person was labeled as someone who looked down on them when they got promoted. They never even gave the person a chance. How? How will Jane address it? Jane has decided to talk to her colleagues to mitigate her fears and theirs. She is going to remind herself that she can’t assume it will happen to her.
But there is more that Jane needs to uncover so she does this exercise again.
Jane understands that she may not get the promotion if she goes for it, and she’s okay with that so why would this be stopping her she wonders.
Who – It’s her coworkers again. The people in Jane’s department. What – If she doesn’t get the promotion she’ll have to face them. They may think Jane is dumb or an idiot or make fun of her behind her back or even worse, feel pity for her. Where – She is imagining overhearing them whispering in the hall or in the restroom about her failure. When – Jane may not be allowed to talk about it for a week or two because her office asked her not to and that’ll be hard. Why – The coworkers made fun of the last person who didn’t get promoted. How – She can decide if she really cares what they say about her behind her back. Jane can practice how she will respond to her coworkers if this does come up.
Jane would go through this process over and over until she uncovers as many negative consequences as she can. You can use this technique on any goal you aren’t taking action on. Stop stalling and start living your dreams!
I have tips like this every Monday live on Instagram at 6am EST or catch the replay: instagram.com/lisa_polak_
Here is another blog that you may find interesting: Use Your Mindset to Change Your Career Situation