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Advice To Feel Better About Your Career

05 December 2022

Direction, salary, fulfilment - these are just a few of the causes of professional anxiety that strike just about everyone from time to time. It’s only natural that we need to take a step back every now and again and evaluate where we are in relation to our professional goals. However, when this turns from the act of healthy reflection to a more alarming sense of anxiety or stress, it’s time to pull the brakes.

Nowadays, with climbing inflation and stagnated wages, the job market is in many ways tougher than ever. Most major cities are struggling with housing crises, and the prospect of home ownership is something available to fewer and fewer people as time progresses. On top of all these added sources of stress, social media has enabled us to keep constant tabs on the professional achievements of our peers. After a day of work-related anxiety, the last thing we need to see is how seemingly easy finding success is for everyone else.

If you’re stressing about your career, it’s likely draining you of the energy and peace of mind you need to live productively and comfortably. Don’t let career-related fears get the better of you - here are the most effective tools for calming those nerves and easing the burden of workplace anxiety.

1. Separate net worth and self worth

At the end of the day, money is just a number. In many industries, the notion that salary is directly proportional to talent, effort, or dedication is simply not true. There are a lot of factors that come into play that determine who earns what for which work. When considering your professional status, it’s important not to equate your value as an individual with the figure on your paycheck.

While we all need money to survive, all the focus that gets placed on fiscal compensation as the be all and end all of success distracts us from other meaningful measurements of success. Loving the work you do, enjoying benefits such as flexibility, having a team you can rely on - all of these types of workplace satisfaction that won’t necessarily correlate with the exact figure on your paycheck. Keep an open mind when it comes to judging yourself, and keep your self-esteem as separate as possible from your paycheck.  

2. Create specific goals

Oftentimes, those who suffer from career related anxiety are those who are indeed ambitious, and feel as though they are not living up to their true potential. But being ambitious is not as simple as one might imagine. Ambition without clear goals is a recipe for dissatisfaction, as it will always be impossible to tell whether you are satisfied with your success.

Key to tackling this is creating a set of specific goals that you can turn into an actionable plan. In order to create these goals, you have to get deeply in touch with yourself and assess what it is that drives you forward in your career. Ask yourself meaningful questions, such as what you want more of in your life, and how you want your work-life balance to look. Once you have honest answers to these questions, you’ll find yourself in a far better position to visualise a future that you can work towards.

Working towards this future is best done in the most manageable steps possible. Instead of beating yourself up over the fact that you haven’t gotten to where you’d ideally like to be, ask yourself what are the smallest steps you can take to bring you forward in that direction.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

Every individual has their own individual journey. It’s simply impossible to compare ourselves to others when it comes to hitting professional targets. There are so many tiny, and often uncontrollable, factors that set us apart from one another that making a true comparison is usually a fool’s errand and a recipe for disappointment.  

Rather than judge yourself based on where others are along their own personal career journeys, keep yourself focused on your own journey. Keep working hard to build the life that you want to lead, and achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. It’s easy to look around you and see all the wins and achievements of others, but the truth is that they are probably struggling at points of their own journey too. Don’t lose sight of your own path by getting swept up in the lives of others.

4. Be aware of factors outside of your control

The professional world is a complex place, and your ability to reach certain milestones will often be determined by many factors outside of your control. Turning economic tides, the rise of new technologies, and changing business trends all exert a force on the average career path that extends far beyond the control of any given individual. Furthermore, many individuals may be suffering from historic workplace biases that hold them back from reaching achievements at the same pace as some of their peers. It’s important to focus on what you can control within your own circumstances, as focusing on that which lies outside the bounds of individual control is only going to lead to frustration.  

When it comes to your career satisfaction, the most important thing is to focus on yourself, and do so with kindness. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for things not going to plan. Rather, focus on what actionable steps you have at your disposal to work towards the future you want to see.