I previously wrote about psychological barriers that prevent people from taking the steps they need to in order to move forward on finding a new job or career: “Psychological Blocks to Pursuing a Better Career.”
In brief, they were perfectionism, fear of making a wrong / bad choice, and not fulfilling the expectations of others. Today I’m going to write about a few more.
One that I encounter fairly frequently in my clients is fear of rejection. This fear tends to kick in particularly strongly if the client hasn’t had any positive responses to efforts to move forward (whether that be job applications, asking friends or relatives for help with introductions, or even sending out requests to connect on LinkedIn). Particularly after the loss of a job, clients feel fragile and are hypersensitive to perceived rejection. Sometimes the “rejection” takes the form of no response to a job application, or an unanswered request to connect. If you’re someone who is consistently encountering some form of rejection, by all means consider the possibility that your approach, or your materials are wrong, or that you are aiming too high (or too low – overqualification is a surprisingly frequent reason not to be considered for a position). But also consider the possibility that you just haven’t found the right fit yet. I recently began meeting with a client in his late sixties whose wife died a couple of years ago. A year later he enrolled in Match.com and, after around thirty “dates” that were busts he finally met a woman with whom he’s now in a wonderful relationship. Had he given up after the first dozen or two attempts (which most people would) he’d be unhappily alone. Just like in dating, finding the right fit can take a while; not finding it, even after quite a while, may be less of a commentary on your inadequacies than on the peculiarities of fortune. As I often tell clients “If the train didn’t stop at your station it must not be your train.”
A second emotional barrier is depression. If someone is stuck for years in a career that is unfulfilling or, worse, a job that is actively unpleasant, it takes a heavy toll on emotional well-being. Frequently the workplace issues spill over into one’s personal life, and relationships and even health can suffer, compounding the problem. If you are experiencing a number of the symptoms of depression (apathy, sadness, difficulty concentrating, abnormal sleeping patterns, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness, large appetite / weight changes, isolating behavior, or frequent thoughts of death or suicide) consult a therapist or a psychiatrist. While not all depression is amenable to treatment, most cases are, through therapy, medication, or both.
A third and often related barrier is fatigue. If you’ve been expending a lot of effort on your career / job search and feel you are getting nowhere, consider taking a break so that you can “reset”and reenergize. Of particular value would be placing yourself in a context that will be conducive to creative thinking. That context could range from doing exercises suggested by a career book to meeting with a consultant / coach / counselor who can provide new insights and ideas to taking a camping trip, a cruise, or a two week volunteering gig (see Vocationvacations.com for a wide range of such opportunities). The key is to shift your view of yourself from the confines of your current mindset to a more “distant” (i.e. objective) and creative perspective.