Two weeks ago, in Part 1 of this series, we talked about doubt and how to make it productive during a career transition.

Now, let’s talk about quicksand.

If you ever find yourself thinking in desperate absolutes, you’re in quicksand.

Sounds like:

  • “I’ll never be able to…”
  • “I’ll always be stuck doing…”

These are lies and they are dangerous. For better or worse, there is no “never” or “always.”

If you ever find yourself spiraling into a catastrophic storyline, you’re in quicksand.

Looks like:

  • concocting detailed, horrible stories about your future based on little or no evidence
  • being convinced that every possible outcome will make you miserable. forever.
  • obsessing over hypothetical situations

These are irrational thoughts and they are dangerous.

We usually find ourselves in quicksand because we’re afraid or have a negative core belief that kicks us into catastrophe mode.

If you find yourself in quicksand, there are a couple things you can do to get back on solid ground.

1. Ask yourself, “Is this thought accurate?”

You need to engage your critical brain here. Emotionally, the fear you feel may be very real, even if it’s based on vapors and untruths. But looking at the evidence you have, is your thought objectively true? Do you have proof? Or is this the handiwork of brain cells gone bad?

2. Ask yourself, “Is this thought helpful?”

Maybe some part of it is. Maybe some part of your thought is protecting you. But another part is also limiting you. Separate what is helpful from what is harmful and limiting.

3. Ask yourself, “Has anyone else done something similar?”

Even though your situation may feel unique to you and your circumstances, chances are that someone, somewhere (if not many people, many wheres) have found a way to make it work. Can you find evidence that it’s possible to do the thing that worries you?

4. Ask yourself, “Am I capable of taking care or myself?”

The answer is yes. You will not pass out; you will reflexively breathe. You are safe.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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