Am I a career failure? Life can be tough, and it’s worse when we compare ourselves to others. There will always be people smarter, slimmer, more adept at personal relationships, more attractive to others …
But we are different, and should focus on our strengths. Know where we excel and focus there.
It’s not only about having a successful career. Our strengths may lie elsewhere and people shouldn’t judge us on our job.
But, for some people, that is how they measure their own success. From child hood, and from family and school they have been conditioned to believe a successful career and success in life go together. No wonder if it doesn’t work out they see themselves as a career failure.
Success should be about life
Some people have achieved career success, but then redundancy can hit and they struggle to get another job. It hurts. They feel a career failure, and start believing negative messages. The longer it takes them to get another job the harder it is.
I’ll encourage clients who see themselves as a career failure, to look at their wider life. Alongside their job search to seek a hobby or volunteering where they can see themselves as successful.
Others see themselves as a career failure, as they haven’t got the career success they expected. It’s naturally hard when they see their school and university friends earning good salaries and be successful whilst they are in lower status jobs. It hurts when they meet up with people and are asked what they do. They just want to shout out “I’m a career failure”.
When people feel like a career failure it can be hard for them. They continually tell themselves that they are useless and worry about getting a job with status, but they know that most of these jobs do not play to their strengths. They may have been successful in getting one of these jobs in the past, but it hasn’t worked out. Try a second or third time and still not get success and it compounds the feeling of being a career failure.
Stop seeing yourself as a career failure
Ideally, you should focus on your strengths, and get a job that is right for you, not for other people. Some people are happy to go for a more ‘artisan’ type job and many people who would have opted for an office based profession are now happy in work that focuses on e.g. using their hands or in a customer facing role.
Others don’t want to consider alternatives. This can be as their self-worth is attached to a successful career. It can lead to feeling anxious and they can feel stuck and unable to move forward. This is when counselling, not career coaching, is needed. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be helpful to work on enhancing self-esteem and developing resilience. There are also free online options.
Take a wider view of success and build confidence
It can also be helpful to take a wider view of success and to develop belief in your wider strengths. This can be done by looking at your past and to see what you have done in the past. Consider the tasks but also the things that you enjoyed. You can also use an ability assessment such as the Highlands Ability Battery.
Alongside working on confidence voluntary work and fact-finding interviews/ job shadowing, can help to find out more career paths that would be a better fit.
Moving on from career failure
As someone develops resilience, they should be better at moving into problem solving. They will feel better about taking a broader view of career options and stronger about any decision they make.