As I’ve watched hundreds of clients go through the process of career change I’ve identified three major career mindset hurdles that they have to overcome in order to discover the meaningful work that’s right for them. And you will, too. In fact, do not try to change careers until you make these 3 make or break mindset shifts!

First, what is mindset (and why does it matter?)

“Mindset” is simply a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself.

These beliefs are hugely important because they impact not only your motivation around your career, but also the career options that you believe are available to you.

Mindset Mistake #1: It’s not possible for me to do meaningful work.

If your career mindset is stuck in, “There’s no option that will give me the meaning, money, and life I want,“ go back to doing what you’re doing. No strategy is going to save you. You’re done before you’ve begun. No tip, no trick, no assessment, no YouTube video, no expert is going to be able to help you if you are firmly convinced that this is not possible for you.

Because that mindset is simply not true. It is possible. The belief, the decision, and the commitment to do meaningful work comes first.

It’s normal for doubt and fear to co-exist. Every client I’ve ever worked with has had fear and doubt. But your hope, your determination, your belief in yourself must be stronger.

To build this belief, stop asking self-pitying questions like: “Who am I to do meaningful work,” or “Why do I deserve this?” Those questions simply lead to negative self-talk.

Start asking high quality questions like: “What do I have going for me when it comes to do meaningful work?” and catalog that.

If you found your way to this blog, there’s a good chance that you have a big heart, you want to make a difference, and you have privilege and opportunities that most of the world does not have access to. You have so much going for you, but this mindset squanders it, it because it focuses on the challenges more than the opportunities.

Stop second guessing yourself. We need you. But we don’t get the best of you you while you’re swirling in all your self doubt. Choose yourself.

From there, you do need an effective strategy that is not “follow your passion,” or “what did you want to do when you were a kid,” or “what would you do if the money didn’t matter.” You need a holistic strategy that considers who you are now, what you need now, and what you have to offer now. But none of that can be successful without the foundational belief that it’s possible for you to do meaningful work.

Mindset Mistake #2: I have to choose between meaning and money.

This career mindset believes that there is a binary: That you have meaning, or you can have money, but you can’t have both.

If you are stuck trying to “follow your passion,” you will struggle with this.

If you are stuck trying to “just be practical” and go where you think the money is, you will struggle with this.

That’s why it’s crucial to get out of this binary, either/or mindset and shift to what I call The Purpose Paradigm of work. In The Purpose Paradigm of work, meaning and money are inextricably linked and that happens when you choose a career by starting with service.

Know this: you can have meaning and money in your career. They are not polar opposites; they are inextricably linked. Making this mindset shift will open a whole new world of possible career options for you.

Mindset Mistake #3: Choosing meaningful work is selfish.

If you’re stuck in this career mindset, these thoughts might feel familiar:

  • “If I want meaningful work, I’m selfish.” (or “it’s greedy,” etc.)
  • “Other people have it so much worse than me.”
  • “I should just be happy with what I have and not dare to ask for more.”
  • “I don’t want to be ungrateful.”

There is a big difference between being ungrateful and being unfulfilled. If you can have acknowledge and have gratitude for the good things in your life and still feel unsatisfied by your career, you’re not ungrateful—you’re unfulfilled.

It does not serve the world for you to continue to slog it out doing work that is not fulfilling. You know you aren’t doing your best work. Phoning it in, getting through the day, don’t have the passion that others have for this. Eventually get burned out, resentful, and quit.

When you do truly meaningful work, when you’re getting as much as you’re giving, it’s a win/win. It’s a decision that is not selfish. In fact, it’s strategic, sustainable, and generous.

It benefits everyone when you choose meaningful work.

Work on your mindset first

Don’t keep spinning your wheels in your career change. If you know you have any of these three mindset shifts to overcome, address that before you move forward. It’s challenging, but vital.

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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