Secrets to not sabotage your career when these year-end tasks appear before the holidays

Well it’s the first week of November folks and did you hear it? I’m sure someone somewhere pulled the trigger on a starter pistol and with a bang we were lured into racing that annual end-of-the-year race.

I was suddenly bombarded by clients asking me to host a webinar or give a motivational speech because, “We have budget capabilities that we lose if we don’t use them.” Other clients now book me firmly for intensive presentation coaching sessions because their companies are holding annual promotional rounds this final quarter. They hope to find their competitive edge through improved supply confidence.

And to top it off, this past Tuesday, November 1st, I came across a random tweet that bluntly proclaimed, “It’s officially the start of the holiday season.” It is? Nice? Oh my.

I forgot about that extra glittery year-end print. I usually enjoy everything, but this past week I’ve been feeling a bit stressed.

I bet you’re starting to feel it too. You’re probably going through a hectic time. And since we’re all in this column together, here are my holiday wishes for you – not to give up, but to give yourself an extra positive boost.

1 Don’t slip into negative self-talk

My client Sam (name changed) is being considered for a new global role. It’s going to be a big promotion. After being called directly by one of his reporters to introduce himself, he called me.

He said he doesn’t feel ready. He felt he didn’t deserve the role. He was afraid that the executive team would finally discover that he was a phony. He told me he was seriously considering retiring his name.

Oh oh, that sounds a lot like impostor syndrome, that psychological mind trick where you irrationally tell yourself you’re incompetent or unworthy. As soon as you begin to hear even the first whisper of that career-sabotaging thought, interrupt it with the knowledge and comfort that you are not alone. Research indicates that more than 70 percent of employees experience unwarranted feelings of inadequacy at some point in their careers.

The next step in breaking free from impostor syndrome is to reduce its effects through writing. Serious. The quicker you can get out of your head and onto paper (or onto your laptop), the better.

Let’s go. First create three columns. On the left, write down the thought that pops into your head. In the next two columns you will question the correctness of the thought. With evidence. That means you’ll examine what concrete evidence is out there to support that sentiment. I bet you’ll be quick to dismiss that thought as unfounded.

So, in your second column, write why you think this negative thought is true. But remember, “I just feel this way” is not a rational, evidence-based validation. Once you write that down, move on to column three.

Here I want you to list evidence to the contrary to show that your negative self-talk is not based on fact.

For example, “I can’t handle this” is a common refrain that can make us feel overwhelmed and retreat into professional paralysis. In that important third column, start listing the accomplishments you’ve already successfully achieved. Getting up counts. It’s also important to have that team meeting and make sure everyone has had a chance to contribute.

Get specific and granular. I want this list to be long – filled with real examples of real things you’ve done. You can. All you have to do is break down your fleeting cloud of emotions into a solid tower of determination and positive thinking—built with the sturdy building blocks of your written list of past performances.

2. Don’t loudly underbid your performance to others

If I don’t want you to speak negatively about your abilities through stress, I also don’t want you to speak negatively about yourself out loud.

Here’s what I mean. My client Sofia (not her real name either) is having a packed November. Based in Latin America, she is traveling to New York, Dubai and Miami in three weeks to support the CEO with panel appearances, town halls and the production of his year-end video message to employees and investors.

“I have so much on my plate. I will probably put out talk tracks and other material on the flights. I’ll hardly meet the deadlines,” she said.

“But you’re going to do them, right?” I asked.

“I might get a little less sleep, but I’ll get everything done,” she replied.

“Then tell me about your last-minute dot-com situation, but keep your cool in front of your CEO,” I advised.

Of course, this kind of multi-project, multi-deadline pressure isn’t sustainable in the long run, but I happen to know that my client has a habit that she’s trying to break of telling everyone how exhausted she is. It undermines their credibility and authority.

If you want to meet your deadline, don’t freak out at the boss the night before. Deliver the goods calmly and confidently. If you do need to talk about the workload later, make time for discussion and curate your conversation positively.

The more we can control and direct our thoughts, the more we can control and choose our communication. That, my dear readers, is the secret to keeping it together during this holiday, year-end season. And all year round. Secrets to not sabotage your career when these year-end tasks appear before the holidays

Fry Electronics Team

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