Limiting beliefs are the thoughts, ideas, and assumptions you have that limit your progress.
They might circulate round and round in your head, but you might not give them their dues until you see yourself in a different space from the one you’re in now, whether that’s moving country, settling down with your partner, or embarking on a career change.
Then they’re everywhere you look and you just can stop the chatter.
Examples of common limiting beliefs in careers:
- I’m too old to make a career change
- I’m too young to be taken seriously
- I’ll never receive that promotion I want as a woman
- I don’t have the right experience for a role in marketing
- I won’t find work after a sabbatical
- I won’t be taken seriously as a woman in my chosen field
- I’m too old to be seen as relevant
- I’m asking too much to want flexibility in my position
And when we do want to make that career change, the most difficult part of the process is not the direction we take or the work we have to put in to get there, but the beliefs we have for ourselves that hold us back.
Our personal reality is what’s limiting us from seeing what’s we’re capable of.
Our limiting beliefs are holding us back from becoming our true selves.
There are three categories of limiting beliefs:
- Beliefs about yourself (I’m not persuasive enough / I’m not clever enough / I’ve never been the successful one)
- Beliefs about other people (Nobody’s interested in buying more scented candles / People aren’t naturally supportive / People will think I’m crazy to make a career change at my age)
- Beliefs about the way the world is organised (You need at least a year’s worth of savings to commit to a career change / Companies are not interested in investing in employees from alternative industries / You can’t get a job in marketing if you don’t have connections)
And all of them boil down to one thought: I’m scared.
I’m scared of what will happen if I try. I’m scared of what will happen if I fail. I’m scared of what will happen if I make the wrong decision. I’m scared of what will happen if I can’t find work. I’m scared of what will happen if I can’t look after my family. I’m scared of people’s reactions to my career change choices.
Where do our limiting beliefs come from?
- Our experiences - throughout our lives, we’ve all experienced accomplishments and setbacks. And we are led to believe these setbacks are the true representative of who we are over and above the accomplishments.
- Our social circles - the thoughts and actions of your friends, colleagues and peers can influence how you think and feel about yourself.
- Our parents - the thoughts and actions of your parents in your childhood and into adulthood can affect how you think and feel about yourself.
- Society - imposes standards that you take to be the only option.
Overcome your personal limiting beliefs about your career in 7 easy steps.
Before you start to consider your next career move, now’s the time to tackle your limiting beliefs. Here’s how:
Identify your beliefs
What are your limiting beliefs? You’re not intelligent enough for your new career? You’re too old to make a career change? Companies won’t want to see a digital marketer with so little experience?
If you have a number of limiting beliefs that are holding you back, start with the largest one and then work your way through the others one by one down to the smallest.
Challenge the narrative
What are the facts that support these beliefs? If they are grounded in facts, are they outdated? Is there evidence for this for the opposite of my beliefs? Would I have this belief if I were Beyonce, Elon Musk or even one of your friends? Is this belief helping me reach my goals?
You may soon realise that your beliefs are unfounded, outmoded or just plain wrong, and just that thought can help lead you to a more positive light around how you think about yourself and what you can achieve.
Recognise they are just beliefs
Understand that this is not a belief that you need to hold. It is not a face and is completely untrue.
Recognise the consequences of the old beliefs
How have the old beliefs held you back? How will they hold you back if you continue to believe them in the future?
Will they stop you from becoming who you want to be? Will they stop you from signing up for that Master’s? Will they stop you from making that career change?
How will you feel when you’ve not achieved what you’ve wanted to a few years down the line? What if you had just made that change? What if you had signed up for that course? What if you had tried and failed? How would feel then?
Adopt your new beliefs
Once you’ve identified where you’ve gone wrong in your beliefs, and how they’ll hold you back from becoming your true self if you continue to believe them, you can start to adopt new beliefs.
This will be tricky at first - it’s so much easier to hold a negative belief about ourselves than a positive one, and it takes patience and practise.
What new belief are you going to create to replace the old one? What are you going to say to yourself if the old one pops into your head?
Back up your beliefs with examples of experience to prove it - you’re much more likely to believe in something if there’s evidence behind your claim.
Put your new beliefs into practice
How are you going to continue telling yourself your new beliefs? One easy way is to have reminders around the house or on your person to help you remember a new belief, such as a magnet on the fridge or a hair tie on your wrist. Every time you open the friend door to get the milk and see that magnet or play with your hair tie in that unconscious moment, you bring that positive thought to the fore.
You could also overcome your limiting beliefs through meditation. There are plenty of apps available that can help you to reprogram the way you think about yourself. Take some time out of your day to create the new you you’ve always dreamt of.
If you are still having trouble facing your beliefs and reframing them with positive alternatives, our amazing career coaches can help you move forward with your limiting beliefs, so you can banish them to one side and have the energy and motivation you need to reach your career goals.
Increase your self-compassion
Finally, give yourself the permission to have learnt from your limiting beliefs, know that banishing them is an ongoing and difficult process, and allow yourself to move on from them.