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The risk of a “safe” career choice

I just had a session with a dude who wants a more interesting career, but he also doesn’t want to risk looking stupid, getting humiliated, or failing (i.e. making mistakes).

He suffers from “Imposter Syndrome” and worries that he’ll be “found out” as being less capable than he originally appeared to be.

And so he’s stuck in a pattern where he constantly chooses jobs that look safe, and ends up bored and unsatisfied and not living up to his potential. He’s always the big fish in the small pond, haunted by the feeling that he could be doing so much more.

This is a classic nice guy problem.

It’s the dilemma of the “smooth problem free life” delusion. It’s about not wanting to make the trade-off between fulfilling and safe.

You can either have fulfilling, which includes challenges, risks, and a certainty that you will make mistakes and failures – or you can have safety, which comes with the certainty that you will eventually be bored and unsatisfied. But you can’t have them both!

When you choose safety over the risk of applying for something “out of your league”, you tell yourself that you can’t “handle” it going “wrong”. This is a lie.

You’ve handled everything that’s ever happened to you so far. You really think that the next thing will be the one to knock you down forever?!

Worst case scenario is you’ll bite off a bit more than you can chew, and either learn slowly and eventually get it, or back down and try again later.

And most likely case scenario is you’ll enjoy the challenge and – with a few mistakes and a bit of awkwardness – slowly master it and discover your true potential.


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One Response

  1. If you apply for jobs with completely transparent honesty, you’ll probably only be hired for jobs you can handle and would do well anyway!

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