5 Things That Can Hold Your Career Back

Uncomfortable? Unhappy?  Unsettled?  Unfulfilled?

If any of these descriptors caught your attention and made you say “hmmm”…or flat out “YES,” we need to talk.  You don’t have to live (or work) like this for long.  In order to move your career forward, you may just need to get out of your own way.

In my experience, there are five issues that most often hold people back at work or in their careers.  Here they are, with some tips on how to get on the right track…fast.

1. Not knowing what you want

If you really have no idea what you want to do, odds are you either haven’t had enough exposure or you haven’t done enough research.  Either way, do something about it.  You don’t have to know precisely, but you should have some good ideas to make real progress in your exploration.  “I don’t know,” isn’t a good enough response.  Narrow down the industries you like, the jobs or skills you want to use.  Get as specific as possible for yourself and when people ask you what you’re looking to do. Research whatever inspires you like crazy.  Then seek out people and places and resources in those areas or fields.  Keep tightening your focus. The more you research and talk to people in the field, the faster you’ll find what really fits.

2. Not being able to articulate what you have to offer

You can be the most talented or qualified person in the world, but if you can’t sell yourself and what you have to offer,  you’d better have a great agent!  Odds are you don’t though.  And even if you have a strong advocate, their enthusiasm can never substitute you confidently explaining what you’ve done and what you’re capable of.  Online, offline…doesn’t matter.  When pitching yourself, just be careful to be confident, not arrogant.  Craft a thoughtful and strategic pitch and practice it until presenting yourself powerfully becomes second nature.

3. Not having the confidence to pursue what you aspire to do

A lot of things can create anxiety about pursuing a personal passion.  Fear of the unknown, of failure, or disappointing family, financial risk or uncertainty, being too comfortable where you already are, and more.  Instead of taking a giant leap, take baby steps.  Test the waters out.  There are plenty of ways to experiment, taste, experience new opportunities without a major move.  Find ways to experience your aspirations often or long enough to build your confidence.  Surround yourself with as many people you can who support your ambition and will give you the kick you need when the timing is right.

4. Not having the courage to communicate your worth to the right people

Self confidence is a tricky subject.  Some seem to be born with it, some build it over time, and others fight to retain it while individuals or life in general eat away at it.   Often, not being able to express what you have to offer comes from not sharing it often enough with people who can appreciate it.  Broadening your network to include people in your industry or area of passion will start to expose you to a whole new circle or people who share the same interests.  It can also introduce you to a whole new pool of potential advisors and mentors.   Both of those efforts will build not only your confidence, but your connections with the right people.

5. Not having the tenacity to give your potential a real shot

Success rarely comes easy or fast.  Those are two of the biggest reasons so few actually reach or even fathom what they’re really capable of.  Falling short of your true capabilities often has a lot to do with not having the vision to see what’s possible.  Or a plan to show you how it might be.  Good news is, both are fixable.  Dreaming big about your future might take some coaxing, but it’s one of the most inspiring exercises you can run yourself through.  Coming up with a plan to make it possible then is where it all starts to become real.  Then you just have to execute.  With the right inspiration and a good dose of ambition, you’ll get the motivation you need to see you through to success.

Jennifer Kushell is the Founder of YSN.com – Your Success Network, the place for tools, insights, and inspiration for success in your life & career.