3 Culprits that steal our sense of career security and what to do about it

You ever fear losing something bad enough that you cling to it so tightly. You may not even be sure why you’re holding onto it so badly. That thing may not even be right for you and is causing more pain than happiness in your life. Still, you feel compelled to hold on to this thing because the thought of being without it is truly terrifying.

We do this every day.

We hold onto relationships that are no longer good for us.

We hold onto habits that keep us stuck and going around in circles.

We hold onto the care of what other people think of us.

We hold onto jobs that we don’t love.

But what are we really holding on to? Perhaps it’s not the actual thing we fear losing. Perhaps what we really fear is not knowing who we’d be without it.

You may not love your job but for the last 10 years, you’ve woken up to it every single day. Having this job became a big part of your life and an even bigger part of your identity. Your family and friends know you as the lawyer, the finance exec, the assistant vice president and have come to expect you to be what you’ve always been and do what you’ve always done. And though you may have dreams of one day running your own business or becoming a writer, you’re not quite ready to let go of the safety net you’ve grown accustom to over the last 10 years.

So therein lies the question, what is your safety net built out of? Straw, sticks, or brick?

When it comes to our careers, factors like salary, title, prestige, degrees, what we do, how busy we are, the company we work for holds weight for us. Similarly, if you’re self-employed we can get hung up on things like number of clients, how much money you make or charge, number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes and so on.

When all of these things are in place within our career, we feel good. However, they can also create a false sense of security as we attach our identity and worth to them depending on whether or not we have these things.

I find that when we feel a little shaky or insecure within ourselves and in our careers, it’s usually due to one of these 3 culprits:

  1. The need for external validation i.e.praise, attention, status recognition, likes on Facebook
  2. Expected or unexpected change i.e. layoff from job, starting a new biz
  3. Self-judgment or comparison i.e. so-and-so got a new job or so-and-so got published on Forbes. What about me?

We hold on to the comfort and security of these things to fulfill us albeit only temporarily. But if the job/title/attention/approval/validation goes away, we scramble to find the next thing to make us feel whole again.  It’s a dangerous game to play.

There’s a better way.

The trick is to create your own safety net and tap into your own internal source of security that is constant and unshakeable amidst external measures of success. Here’s how:

First check-in with yourself:

a) Acknowledge when you feel insecure, or unstable

b) (Re)Connect with something constant i.e. Your heart beat, your breath, ocean waves, etc.

c) (Re)Connect with a higher power i.e. God, Universe, The Light, or anything that holds sacred meaning to you.

And ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. When you fear losing something or feel insecure:What if I could trust God/Universe/The Light to support me?
  2. For times of uncertainty:What do I know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt? This could be a personal belief, affirmative statement, or value that you feel grounded in.
  3. To keep you moving forward:If I truly believed that [from above answers], what could I do right now that aligns with that belief?

Contrary to popular thought, security is an inside game. Our safety net is built from within; in short: YOU are the net. Build it wisely and strongly with unwavering belief in yourself and your abilities.

Image by Quint Buchholz