April 6, 2022

Career Stress Responses

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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This week we are going to talk about career pain tolerance and settling for career mediocrity. How you feel about your career and respond to the stress of it correlates to your success and what you ultimately end up achieving in your career or your life. 

There are specific ways that people deal or cope with workplace stress or unhappiness. Knowing how you react and how you can overcome the stress is key to getting to your next level.

What You’ll Learn

4 stress-responses your brain goes through when you want to make a change

How to make a career change when you feel uncomfortable

1 question you can ask that will get you moving toward what you want

How to avoid thought-traps that keep you stuck

Featured in This Episode

Career Path Navigator:  Open NOW through April 15th – know your best career move guaranteed – learn more and join us at  https://yourworthycareer.com/navigator

Learn more about working with Melissa at www.melissamlawrence.com

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Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills, and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast, How Are You? This has been an eventful week at the time that I’m recording this. The Five Steps to Knowing Your Next Move Training just happened a couple of days ago and it was so fun. There were so many AHA moments and people walked away knowing why. They specifically don’t know what they want the steps to follow to figure out their unique plan, the skills and feelings they need to tap in to make it inevitable.

And I just love teaching these concepts and seeing the results that people have from it, learning about their brain and just normalizing some of the things that we use as weapons to hold ourselves back. And I taught this using a flip chart and stick figures because I know that you all see a lot of PowerPoint at work, so it was pretty fun. And if you didn’t hear enrollment for Career Path Navigator is open now as well. If you missed the announcement, you can still join now through April 15. This is a group coaching program for people in the Pharma, biotech industry and the Sciences to discover their ideal career path and make it happen.

Now, I guarantee that when you join, you will know exactly what you want to do next and know the exact steps to get into your best role, including filling any gaps that you may currently have. From a knowledge, skill or development standpoint, you are no longer going to question what you want or compare your career to others. You’re not going to hold yourself back no matter what level you’re at or what you already know about what you want. This is the room you want to be in. So to see all of the details, go to my website, www.Melissamlawrence.com/navigatgor

and there is one bonus that isn’t on the website, and that is if you enroll by Friday, April 8, I will send you a hard copy of the workbook that accompanies the program to your home with some goodies to help you on your journey. If you’re anything like me, you love getting packages in the mail, gifts that are just going to make your day and your career path better. And I just like the feeling of a hardcopy book in my hand. I try to read electronically, but I just love having that hard copy book, so that’s often what I get. And when it comes to workbooks, you can certainly print out the workbook in the member portal when you join.

The PDF version is in there. You can get it printed. But why would you do that when I can send it to you bound and beautiful and ready for you to get to work. All right, let’s dive into this week’s topic. So we’re going to talk about career pain tolerance and settling for career mediocrity and how it relates to your success and what you ultimately end up achieving in your career or your life.

So there are specific ways that people deal or cope with workplace stress or unhappiness. I’m going to assume that you have a decent job, a good job on paper, because that is really what makes this an issue, right? The negotiation you have with staying in a job that is just good enough. So to start, I find that there are different levels of pain that people experience when it comes to their career, kind of like different levels of readiness for career change. I talk about that concept in the bonus episode I released last week.

What career changer are you? If you missed it, I’ll link to it so that you can check it out. So when you think about wanting something different, whether it’s a promotion, a new project, changing jobs, getting to your next level, knowing what to do, whatever it is, when you want something different but you have already achieved some success like you have. People typically struggle with making a change and knowing what to do. They do things like overthink their decisions, doubt themselves, convince themselves to settle, compare themselves to other people, are stressed, maybe have a hard time sleeping, constantly thinking about what to do, are less present at home, maybe getting opinions from other people in your life, complaining about the work situation that you’re in.

So this is the pain, the discomfort that you can feel when you aren’t where you want to be in your career, but you aren’t actually taking any action or don’t know what to do. So you’re just in this space where your job is great to others, good on paper. There’s nothing horribly wrong with the job surface level. It’s just that you’re not as gaged as you could be. You’re not doing the kind of work that you want to be doing.

And so what’s interesting about this is there are different responses or ways of dealing with the same discomfort depending on who you are, depending on the person your past experiences and the way that your brain is wired. So different people are going to respond to this discomfort in different ways. So I’m going to break this down and you listen for which one you think you might be. So number one for some people, once they experience this level of discomfort, they rush to a change, a solution. They will try anything to get results, whether it’s talking to their boss, heading to the bookstore, taking an online assessment, looking for what College courses they can take.

If there’s a PMP certification out there that they want to do, they apply for a bunch of jobs. They take action. They run towards making something different. Number two, then there are the people that never get out of the doubt and overthinking so much so that it stops them from making a decision toward what they want to be different. They just kind of stay on one of those hamster wheels in a cycle, just spinning and spinning.

And this is normal brain operating behavior. It’s like a paralysis to decision making. It’s fear of making the wrong choice, fear that they will somehow lose the success that they’ve created or go backwards, and that a decision that they would make could somehow be wrong or not right. Then number three, we have those that have this pain as part of their identity. So this pain and discomfort with their career, it’s part of who they are.

They’ve felt this way for so long, maybe their entire work experience, and they want something different. But at this point, it’s all they know. All they know is the struggle. They have work friends where how they connect is complaining about work, right? You go to a happy hour, talk about your boss.

They identify with the struggle. Maybe they deep down don’t think they deserve more than what they have. So they feel the pain, but they can’t imagine feeling anything different so they don’t commit to making a change. Now number four, the last response, this is more of a prideful pain. Those that find themselves too good to take action outside of themselves, they pride themselves on their education and accomplishments.

And the idea of wanting help, needing help, getting help is very uncomfortable. Even if they don’t realize that they’re resisting the help because it’s uncomfortable, that’s what they do. They’d rather stay in the discomfort longer or settle forever rather than ask for help, hire an expert or let anyone know that they don’t know what they want or they don’t have the answer because they’ve worked so hard to earn the success that they have. They’ve prided themselves on these external accomplishments. It’s extremely vulnerable to reach out to someone, to share with someone that they’re struggling, that they don’t know the answer, that they’re not happy.

It can be hard to acknowledge when you work so hard for something for so long and then you look around and you’re not as happy as you thought you could be. You expected more, but you have your family and your colleagues and all these people supporting you to where you are and you don’t want to let them down. You don’t want to admit that maybe you made a decision that wasn’t best for you or that’s what you think has happened when really nothing has gone wrong. You just need some help getting some clarity on what you really want so that you can make decisions for yourself and take action towards what you really want and not what you think people want from you or what you think you should want. So those are the four different ways or responses.

I see people responding to the discomfort of that career mediocrity. So which do you think that you are? If you’re happy in your career right now and you got to this point of the podcast episode, then you can insert another problem or pain point that you have now or one that you’ve experienced in the past. Because whether it’s making a change in your career, because you’re unhappy with your current role or the type of work you do, or any other problem, people the human nature. The human behavior is still to respond in one of those four ways.

So there isn’t a right or wrong answer. There is no shame in wherever you resonate with most. This just tells you a story. It’s a piece of information about yourself. All of these ways of responding have downsides.

You might have thought the first one, the action taker, is the best one, but the downfall is you take inefficient action. You run toward a certification you don’t need. You invest in the wrong things. You have a bookshelf of books you don’t need. You can keep yourself busy in nonproductive action, and this can really just be a coping mechanism.

It’s uncomfortable to feel pain. So to get out, you change something. When you change something that doesn’t address the root cause, though, the pain doesn’t go away. You just numb it for a little bit. You’re just distracted from it.

It’s like having a bad day at work and going home to Netflix and chill to have wine or shop to order. Takeout something that feels good and distracts you from the discomfort that you’re in. Here’s the thing though pain and discomfort are a part of life, what I want for you is to not let your past a lack of confidence, negative self talk, pride, your boss and unsupportive partner. Anything holds you back from living your best life. You have a gift to offer this world, and unfortunately, it’s just human nature that your gift gets dimmed and harder to recognize over time as you get told by society, by others what is right and wrong from your caregivers loved ones, school, work.

You start to operate from thoughts and feelings that are no longer yours, but it’s confusing because they may feel like they’re yours. But this is why you overthink and doubt yourself. Because if it was as clear as do what so and so said, you wouldn’t be confused. It’s because you’re forcing yourself to do something or think something that you don’t really believe in. Your central nervous system is alerting you and causing the discomfort.

But when you think you know what you want and you try to take action that feels uncomfortable because you’ve been conditioned to care what others think and do what others do, your primal part of your brain alerts you that you’re disrupting the routine, and then that causes a level of discomfort as well. So you see the pain of not being happy and not having what you want can be universal. How you handle it is dependent on your beliefs about yourself, which is based on the experiences that you’ve had so far. But no matter how you handle it, your response is a coping mechanism to try to keep you comfortable. Whether it’s action as a distraction, staying stuck over thinking, thinking it’s just who you are or being too proud for help, your response to the pain is giving you something.

It’s offering a source of comfort even when you want something to be different. So what can you do? One helpful question is, if there is something that you want and you’re not going after it because you’re responding in one of the ways I described. Ask yourself what the worst case scenario is. Then ask yourself how you would handle that worst case scenario.

Because I’m going to let you in on a secret. You’re already in it. You’re already not happy. You already want something more. You’re already not doing anything to make the change that you want to make.

And nothing that you do is going to make your current situation worse. It’s only going to get better. You’re only going to go farther, learn more, and achieve more. What I help my clients do is recognize their patterns, to see their blind spots in the way that they are making decisions. And then I help them take action toward what they really want.

One step at a time. For example, with Career Path Navigator, people ask me why it’s a year long. It’s a year because you have a human brain. Because in all of my years developing other people, it’s one thing to know what you want and to build awareness. It’s a whole other thing to put it into practice and do new things and overcome the obstacles that you will need to to get into your best life.

Your default thinking doesn’t just go away. You have to retrain it by taking different action. So you have the year to take messy action, to get coached, to have a safe space, to try new things, to get coaching, to evaluate, get coaching again, try new things so you create lifelong change so that the way you approach your career for the rest of your life is different. The way you see yourself is different. One of my clients, going through the process that is in Career Path to Navigator, figured out what she wanted, achieved all of her goals, got promoted and a $20,000 raise in eight weeks.

Now she has all the extra time to work on new goals, to continue to grow, to learn about herself, to develop her leadership skills. So here is what I want to caution you on. If you find yourself saying, I really need to make a change, but I don’t have time. When we hire more people or some other thing happens, then maybe I’ll have time to work on my goals. That is, you staying in the same pattern that has you overworked and unhappy.

You have to break the cycle and take different and intentional action. If you find yourself having a hard time making a decision, doing pros and cons list, asking everyone else what to do, doubting yourself, thinking that you’ll make the wrong choice, know this. There are no wrong choices. You can handle everything that comes your way. You are here and you have handled everything so far in your life.

You are in the worst case scenario right now and indecision is a decision. You are deciding to stay stuck. I know that’s a little bit harsh to say, but it’s true. Make the best decision for you based on what you want and have your own back. And I say this with love because I believe in you and I believe in what is possible for you.

I believe in the growth of our society, of us as people in this industry. The power of understanding your brain and your thinking. If you find yourself worried that this is just who you are, that you can’t have more, that your work friends won’t like you anymore, that you won’t know what to talk about, if you get happier, it might happen. That’s the truth. But if your work friends only want to be friends with you to complain, then that isn’t a real friendship and it’s more of a codependency coping mechanism.

And you might have to retrain or rework that relationship. But how great would it be to share that you’re happy and all of the good in your life? Think of the ripple effect and the new people that you will attract into your life, how you will spend your time. You may have created the identity that you have now, but the great thing about being human is we change and evolve and your new identity can be whatever you want it to be. If you are too prideful, I get it.

It can be hard to ask for help, but ask yourself, do you always want to make decisions based on other people and never really know what you’re capable of? Never know what impact you could have, what your potential really is. Always live with what ifs because listen, asking for help, trying something new, it doesn’t take away from your success. It makes you a role model. It helps you grow.

It helps you get where you want to be faster. So there you have it. If you’re not happy in your career now, or if you become unhappy later, reflect on this. If you find yourself in a pattern of not being able to make a decision and you’re unhappy about anything in your life, think about this. Reflect back on the ways that I talk to people, respond to discomfort, and what you can do to get out of it.

This is how your brain responds. It’s normal human brain behavior. Nothing has gone wrong. Don’t judge it and show yourself some compassion. Use it as a tool for awareness.

You are empowered to make a different choice to be in the driver’s seat, to make your own decisions and get where you want to go. And if you want help on that ride, reach out to me. You can learn more about working with me at my website. www.melissamlawrence.com.  Like I said, Career Path Navigator is open now through April 15 and then it will close until later in the year. But if you’re unhappy in your career, that is the space that you want to be in.

All right, have an amazing week.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I truly hope you enjoyed it. If this episode resonated with you or helped you in any way, please share it on your social media and tag me. I love seeing what you’re up to. Also please make sure to subscribe and leave a review and until next time have fun navigating in your career knowing the life you want is totally possible.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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