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Part of the series “Finding Brave to Build Your Best Life and Career”

Photo: iStock

Dealing with the impact of career decisions that hold us back

Before I mustered the bravery to reinvent my career from unhappy corporate VP, to success coach, writer and speaker, I was stuck in a corporate marketing career that was just plain wrong on so many levels. While it was “successful” on the outside (meaning, I made good money, had high-level responsibility, earned lots of perks and benefits, oversaw large projects, etc.), it was a train wreck from an emotional perspective.

Looking back on those 18 years of corporate life, I see now that my real talents and abilities – the ones that make me feel alive and of value and use to others – weren’t being tapped at all. Because of that, I often felt the success I achieved never delivered the impact or satisfaction I wanted. The work and outcomes I focused in my corporate jobs rarely matched the real me or aligned with my truest values and ideals. Just like 87% of employees worldwide, I felt disengaged in my work, and found no meaning or constructive purpose in this career I’d worked so hard to build. Despite all the “sensible” decisions I made in managing my career, I ended up shattered and lost at 41.

What kept me stuck in this career pain and dissatisfaction? It amounted to a series of critical career choices and decisions that I believed made sense and were wise to make, but in the end, they failed me.&nbsp; And the core mistake I made, over and over, was not recognizing that what we are most naturally gifted and talented at doing – what comes easily and joyfully to us – are the same talents we should be leveraging in our careers, instead of focusing on skills that are deeply challenging or demotivating to use. Further, if the outcomes we’re focused on in our work don’t honor our core values and ideals, we’ll suffer.

Working with hundreds of professionals each year, I’ve seen that there are 5 career decisions and choices people make that often backfire, and lead to failed careers and painful outcomes. Over 95% of the professionals who come to my firm for career help are making at least one of these mistakes , and on average they’re making three of these at the same time. These errors in decision-making around our career choices destroy great opportunities, career happiness and true success.

These 5 critical career decisions that fail us are:

Going only for the “safest” thing

Understandably, professionals want something safe and secure for their careers and profession. The problem is, nothing today is really “safe and secure” except the talents you possess inside of you and your commitment to using and growing them. Entire industries and fields are evaporating quickly, or morphing into new directions. Many professionals over 45 who I’ve worked with have stopped refreshing and updating their knowledge base and skill set and are finding that they’re being viewed as obsolete, replaced by younger professionals who have their finger on the pulse of the new innovations and directions in their fields.

Midlife professionals sometimes admit that they simply can’t keep up with the pace that’s demanded of them, but they feel it’s too late to make a change. It’s too risky, too unknown, too scary, to make a significant shift.&nbsp; And they’re afraid of all the money they believe they’ll lose. So they stay in what they think is safe only to find that staying safe was about the most unsafe thing they could do.

Tip:&nbsp;Stop worrying about safe. The only safe thing is growing yourself, and making great use of all that you know to help others. What is the scariest thing you’ve been wishing you could do? Seriously evaluate what it would take to do that scary thing, or some version of it, that could make you great money but also honor what you know to be true about yourself and who you want to be in the world.

Not fully leveraging your deepest, most needed talents

What most corporate professionals fail to understand is that each of us possesses great natural talents and abilities that the world needs, and that organizations must have to thrive. The key is to identify those talents within you (they’re often not readily apparent to you because you’re so good at them), and learn to apply those in new ways that are needed by organizations or others to help them grow.

Tip: Many people can’t even answer the question “What are you great at?” If you can’t answer that question, then you can’t speak compellingly about your talents either, and that leaves money, opportunities and advancement on the table. If that’s you, take the time now to identify your true, natural talents that have been with you since your teen years. Think about how these talents have helped organizations, teams and people grow and thrive. What outcomes were you able to achieve that others couldn’t have, because of what you do and what you know. Then determine how you can now leverage these talents more powerfully to make a difference in new roles that you’ll find juicy and rewarding.

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Part of the series “Finding Brave to Build Your Best Life and Career”

Photo: iStock

Dealing with the impact of career decisions that hold us back

Before I mustered the bravery to reinvent my career from unhappy corporate VP, to success coach, writer and speaker, I was stuck in a corporate marketing career that was just plain wrong on so many levels. While it was “successful” on the outside (meaning, I made good money, had high-level responsibility, earned lots of perks and benefits, oversaw large projects, etc.), it was a train wreck from an emotional perspective.

Looking back on those 18 years of corporate life, I see now that my real talents and abilities – the ones that make me feel alive and of value and use to others – weren’t being tapped at all. Because of that, I often felt the success I achieved never delivered the impact or satisfaction I wanted. The work and outcomes I focused in my corporate jobs rarely matched the real me or aligned with my truest values and ideals. Just like 87% of employees worldwide, I felt disengaged in my work, and found no meaning or constructive purpose in this career I’d worked so hard to build. Despite all the “sensible” decisions I made in managing my career, I ended up shattered and lost at 41.

What kept me stuck in this career pain and dissatisfaction? It amounted to a series of critical career choices and decisions that I believed made sense and were wise to make, but in the end, they failed me.  And the core mistake I made, over and over, was not recognizing that what we are most naturally gifted and talented at doing – what comes easily and joyfully to us – are the same talents we should be leveraging in our careers, instead of focusing on skills that are deeply challenging or demotivating to use. Further, if the outcomes we’re focused on in our work don’t honor our core values and ideals, we’ll suffer.

Working with hundreds of professionals each year, I’ve seen that there are 5 career decisions and choices people make that often backfire, and lead to failed careers and painful outcomes. Over 95% of the professionals who come to my firm for career help are making at least one of these mistakes , and on average they’re making three of these at the same time. These errors in decision-making around our career choices destroy great opportunities, career happiness and true success.

These 5 critical career decisions that fail us are:

Going only for the “safest” thing

Understandably, professionals want something safe and secure for their careers and profession. The problem is, nothing today is really “safe and secure” except the talents you possess inside of you and your commitment to using and growing them. Entire industries and fields are evaporating quickly, or morphing into new directions. Many professionals over 45 who I’ve worked with have stopped refreshing and updating their knowledge base and skill set and are finding that they’re being viewed as obsolete, replaced by younger professionals who have their finger on the pulse of the new innovations and directions in their fields.

Midlife professionals sometimes admit that they simply can’t keep up with the pace that’s demanded of them, but they feel it’s too late to make a change. It’s too risky, too unknown, too scary, to make a significant shift.  And they’re afraid of all the money they believe they’ll lose. So they stay in what they think is safe only to find that staying safe was about the most unsafe thing they could do.

Tip: Stop worrying about safe. The only safe thing is growing yourself, and making great use of all that you know to help others. What is the scariest thing you’ve been wishing you could do? Seriously evaluate what it would take to do that scary thing, or some version of it, that could make you great money but also honor what you know to be true about yourself and who you want to be in the world.

Not fully leveraging your deepest, most needed talents

What most corporate professionals fail to understand is that each of us possesses great natural talents and abilities that the world needs, and that organizations must have to thrive. The key is to identify those talents within you (they’re often not readily apparent to you because you’re so good at them), and learn to apply those in new ways that are needed by organizations or others to help them grow.

Tip: Many people can’t even answer the question “What are you great at?” If you can’t answer that question, then you can’t speak compellingly about your talents either, and that leaves money, opportunities and advancement on the table. If that’s you, take the time now to identify your true, natural talents that have been with you since your teen years. Think about how these talents have helped organizations, teams and people grow and thrive. What outcomes were you able to achieve that others couldn’t have, because of what you do and what you know. Then determine how you can now leverage these talents more powerfully to make a difference in new roles that you’ll find juicy and rewarding.

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