The 5 Minute Career Coach

Helping Career Changers Around The World

December 2012

Can’t or Won’t?

Serious business woman making stop sign over white, focus on hand‘I’d love to change career but I can’t.’

Does that ring a bell for you?

As a career coach I have heard that many a time and it always makes me wonder what it is that makes the speaker use this word ‘CAN’T’ as a barrier. What is it that leads them to assume that this barrier is impossible to break through?

When you find yourself saying ‘I can’t…’ to any challenge, observe the internal reaction that accompanies it. Does it make you feel like curling up, turning away, shrugging your shoulders and giving up?

Just stop and observe

Then stop and ask yourself – ‘Is it really impossible?’

If you were to put 1000 different people in your shoes and present them with the same challenge that you face, would they all turn away with the same shrug and declare it impossible?

Or would some of them respond differently? Is it really so impossible?

In many situations, thinking or saying ‘I can’t’ is simply an indication that some piece of the jigsaw is missing. It could be that you:

  • lack some knowledge or skill
  • need a guide or mentor to support and encourage you
  • can’t see how you can do it without some additional finance
  • don’t believe that you have it in you to face up to this challenge
  • think you won’t be able to find the time
  • think it is not really your responsibility anyway

And there are many more excuses!

Excuses, excuses!

Because this is what they are – excuses. I don’t deny that these issues present a hurdle to overcome, but none of the above is ‘mission impossible’.

What it really boils down to the difference between ‘I can’t’ and ‘I won’t’

  • If you lack some knowledge or skill, what will you do to learn it?
  • If you need a guide, who will you ask?
  • If you need more money, what steps will you take to start saving?
  • If you don’t believe in yourself, what will you do to begin to develop that self belief?
  • If you think you don’t have time, how will you make some time?
  • If you think it is down to someone else, who else is responsible for your life other than you?
close up on brunette's face as she is looking up

For some people, being faced with ‘I can’t’ is a signal to take action, to find out how. Rather than turning away, it is an opportunity to explore how they can find the knowledge or help they need to move on.

People who respond to ‘I can’t’ with a shrug followed by doing nothing are really saying ‘I won’t’. Let’s be clear about this, they are choosing to turn ‘I can’t’ into an insurmountable barrier so they can stay stuck in their uncomfortable comfort zone.

So what about you?

Are you a ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’ person? How would your life be different if you decided to become an ‘I can’ person instead?

Why not try it out for a day and see what a difference it makes!

Something to think about

“Feel the fear and do
it anyway”

Susan Jeffers

Time to realise that you will never get rid of the fear that accompanies taking a bold step – the two go hand in hand. So learn to welcome that ‘frisson’ as a positive sign that you are taking charge and growing your life.

Cherry Recommends

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

Susan JeffersFeel The Fear Jeffers

Susan Jeffers, the author of this amazing international bestseller, died recently on 27 October and so I thought this was a good moment to share this great book with you again.

This book was certainly instrumental in my own leap of faith when I left my job to set up on my own. It is full of wisdom about this emotion that can cripple so many of us unnecessarily.

For most would-be career changers, fear is a big hurdle that blocks their way, and for many it becomes an insurmountable barrier that locks them into a life that makes them miserable. Do you want to be one of those people or will you make changes in your life in spite of it?

Here is what Jeffers wrote:

“…over 90% of what we worry about never happens. That means that our negative worries have less than a 10% chance of being correct. If this is so, isn’t being positive more realistic than being negative?

If you think about it, the important issue is not which is more realistic but rather ‘Why be miserable when you can be happy?'”

In the book, Jeffers shares her own journey through fear, so her advice is grounded in personal experience. She will help you to challenge what you are really afraid of anyway and give you a set of tools, not to make the fear go away, but to confront it and live a better life as a result.

She defines five core truths about fear which are worth repeating here, and if you are at risk of letting fear hold you back, then I suggest you pin these up on a notice board at home where you can see them every day!

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I am still growing.
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
  3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it and then be proud of what I have done.
  4. Not only will I feel fear when I am on unfamiliar territory, but so will everyone else
  5. Pushing through the fear is less scary than living with the underlying fear that comes from feeling helpless

With best wishes for your career change success

5MCC Back Issues from May 2012

About the author

Amy Thomas

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