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Career Change Perfectionism. The 5 Minute Career Coach March 2010
March 01, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

March 2010


Welcome to the March 2010 edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach!

What’s in this Issue

If you are teetering on the brink of making a career change and then keep finding that something pulls you back from the edge, read on - there is lots in this edition to help!

With best wishes

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes, having more fun and being happier comes from looking for each in crazy, new places; instead of waiting for them to come from where you've found them before or where others are now finding them."

This is another one of those quirky quotes from the TUT Adventurer's Club website and it seems to me to be spot on for many an aspiring career changer. After all, who doesn't want a career that will mean having more fun and being happier?

If you have not yet signed up for Notes from the Universe, I recommend you take a look. The Notes are quirky, unconventional and humorous and yet can sometimes offer you just that glimpse of insight that you need.

Are You a Perfectionist?

I expect you know if you have perfectionist tendencies. We all do to a certain degree, but for some, perfectionism can really hold them back.

  • Do you like things to be just right?
  • Do you set very high standards for yourself and for others?
  • Do you believe there is one 'right' way of doing things?
  • Do you dither over decisions because you want to be absolutely sure you have thought of every angle before you commit?
  • Do you avoid starting (or completing) something in case it doesn’t turn out right?

Perfectionists all share an irrational belief that everything must be absolutely right, and because this is nearly always unachievable, they can then get frozen into inactivity on the basis that it is better to play it safe and do nothing than run the risk of a less than perfect outcome.

Irrational beliefs
The secret lies in recognising that the underlying beliefs that perfectionists hold are irrational. You will often find that these beliefs are all or nothing beliefs.

For example:

  • Everything must be done to my own (vastly inflated) ideas of perfection.
  • If I cannot be perfect, I am a complete loser.
  • Mistakes are not permitted.
  • If I experience a setback, I have failed and so I might as well give up.
  • Winning is the only acceptable option.
  • There are so many pitfalls on the way to perfection that I might as well not bother trying.

Perfectionism rarely leads to a perfect life but is more likely to result in procrastination, a pessimistic outlook and low self esteem. So if you think it is a factor that is holding you back from making a career change, take a look at these tips for challenging and changing your approach.

Challenging perfectionism

  1. Make a list of the ways that being a perfectionist is holding you back and stopping you getting on with your career change. Seeing how it is hindering rather than helping can free you up from the perfectionist ties that bind you.
  2. Allow yourself time to make changes or learn new things. You are unlikely to jump to your goal of an ideal career in one step. You didn’t learn to ride a bike in one go, did you? And you just kept on trying in spite of falling off a lot at first!
  3. Acknowledge that setbacks and 'blind alleys' are natural steps on the way to any goal.
  4. Learn to break your habit of focusing on mistakes you think you have made or things that could go wrong. Focus instead on the positive outcomes and benefits that a career change will bring.
  5. Practise taking action rather than thinking and planning endlessly. Just taking tiny steps forward means there is less at stake if it doesn’t work and yet it is still moving in the right direction. Reward yourself for the progress you make, however small and learn to enjoy the journey.
  6. Recognise that there are many different routes to the career change you are seeking – there is not just one 'right' way to do it. Allow yourself to explore the unlikely options that don’t seem to fit your ideas of how things 'should' be or of the kind of person you are.
  7. Seek out people who are positive role models of how taking the relaxed 'good enough is good enough' approach allows them to lead happy and successful lives.

If you follow these tips, they can help you break free of the perfectionism habit and start making real progress towards a career change.

And my own perfectionism?
Yes, I have a bit of it too! Well, I hate my newsletter or my website having any spelling mistakes or typos! In spite of my best intentions, the odd one creeps in every now and again – and do you know what? The world hasn’t come to an end as a result, my readers haven't all unsubscribed in droves, so I guess I too am learning that it is OK not to be perfect all the time!

The Career Change Question

Challenging questions are a key tool in helping to create change.

Each month I offer you a question to think about. Just let the question wander round your mind for a few days, or even weeks and see what answers unfold for you. The questions are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for you career and for your life.

Where could you look, who could you ask to get some new career change inspiration?

And with this question, I suggest you don’t just jot down a couple of obvious people or places. I challenge you to make a list of at least 50 different ideas! This is because it is when you force yourself to make a really long list that you get past the obvious and begin to be more creative.

It is best to do this exercise in one sitting – maybe with a trusted friend to help prompt you. You will start with the obvious, but as the list grows, you are forced to be more adventurous, a bit whacky even, and this is when the off-the-wall ideas begin to show up, the ones that actually have some real but unexpected potential.

So go on, see what you can come up with – and then take action!

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