You spend the last few months of 2017 saying, “Next year will be different.” And now it’s next year and you can’t really say that anything’s changed. You know what you want—it’s just that the closer you get to going after it, the more unsure you are.
You’re not alone in this feeling. But, instead of continuing to find every flaw in your idea, let’s first make sure that you’re not overthinking every step.
1. Every Time You Think About Doing Something Awesome in Your Career, You Immediately Think “I Shouldn’t…”
Are there times when something isn’t right? Sure, of course. But if every time you see an opportunity, you immediately think “I shouldn’t” or “I can’t” then you’re definitely overthinking it.
Here’s what to do instead: Let’s put your amazingly smart brain to action, and think about all the reasons why you actually can do something.
For instance: You think to yourself “Ugh, I’m way overdue for a raise. But I shouldn’t ask for one, I don’t want to be that person and I know my boss is busy.”
Which leads to you feeling terrible and nothing good happening.
Instead, why not try a phrase that starts with “I can” and is followed by “Here’s how.”
Let me give you an example. Start by saying: “I can ask for a raise.” And then add: “Here’s how: I’ll start by writing down all of the work I’ve done and make my case on paper. Then I can also make sure I schedule a time that works for her, so it won’t be a problem to sit down and have a conversation about this. Finally, I can focus on the fact that asking for a raise is a normal thing to do, as long as I’m polite and focused and positive, things will be OK.”
The combination of those two phrases does something magical to your brain. It distracts you from all the reasons why not, and gets you thinking about the good stuff like how it can be possible.
2. Whenever Your Friends Ask About Your Career, You Change the Subject
Have you ever been out with your friends, and someone asks you “How that’s job search going?” And you mumble something quickly and immediately move to another topic?
You aren’t alone! Frankly, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you just aren’t ready to talk about a big career move.
And sometimes you’re just plain scared of change, so instead of facing up to the fact that you’re beyond overdue, you keep changing the subject.
So, to determine which camp you fall into, ask yourself this question: “Is this just a tough moment, or am I honestly avoiding this question all the time?”
If the answer is “I’m avoiding this all the time” then chances are you’re over-thinking your next step and it’s time to face up to the fact that it’s 100% okay to ask for a raise, or to meet with your boss to talk about a promotion, or to even want a completely different job.
Usually, we dread the idea of something more than the thing itself, so the easiest way over the hump is to talk about your next steps with someone you trust. Even saying something like “I really want to change jobs, but I’m terrified of ending up unemployed” can help you move past the analysis paralysis and into action.
And action is where the magic happens.
3. You Endlessly Research Options, But Can’t Seem to Make Yourself Actually Do Anything
Have you ever researched…and researched…and researched…
And just when you feel like you have a solution or an idea for your career, you decide the right answer is “more research.”
You know, just to be safe.
If your answer to “What’s next in my career?” is always “more research” then you’re definitely over-thinking and it’s time for action.
Here’s what you do: Commit to researching two to three good options, and once you have your options in hand, it’s time to take action on them, instead of going back for more information.
So, for example, here’s what that can look like: You decide you want a new job. So you research several different companies but you can’t make yourself apply.
Instead of going back for more research, review all of the work you’ve done to date and then choose your best two options in terms of potential companies. Commit to applying to jobs at both. Don’t panic! Applying doesn’t mean “taking” but it does mean making progress.
Remember: Nothing changes without action and the longest journey starts with just one step—you can do this! No really, take that first baby step today.