Did you know that the average human has around 50,000 thoughts a day and 95% of these thoughts repeat each day? The totality of our thoughts creates our mindset and it can be one dedicated to growth or that keeps us acting and feeling small (er-than).
What narratives are you telling yourself?
Once you determine what your inner dialogue is saying about your potential, you can unpack it. Where did this story start? Did you fall into an unhealthy relationship with your self worth? How can you break it?
Sometimes, our inner dialogue, this narrative, kick-starts from outside influences. Recognizing who and what contributed to your current mindset can help you understand what you no longer need (and, sometimes, who you no longer need around you) and who you should be spending more time with. The people and energy we surround ourselves with really matters.
As a student or recent graduate, self-limiting beliefs are particularly harmful because this is time where you are working hard to grow your skills, network, and own the value you bring to an organization. (In the job hunt, self limiting beliefs can look like: "I am awful at interviewing", or "I'll submit an application but there's really no point, I won't hear back" OR "Sure, I'll take this low-ball job offer because it's my only option and better than nothing").
As an employee, self-limiting beliefs can actually start to sink in because of an unhealthy workplace culture. A positive workplace culture builds you up and provides mentorship and growth opportunities to foster retention. Workplace cultures should also recognize if colleague dynamics are hindering progress and identify how to put an end to it. It is possible for others to try and project self-limiting beliefs onto you but it is your choice whether or not you accept those beliefs (hint: don't).
In the quest to overcome negative self-talk and take agency over your career path (and life) there are plenty of tips available but our favourite advice comes from this talk by Simon Sinek. Watch here and see our top seven tips from this talk, below.
A Few Ways to Overcome Your Personally-Set Barriers to Success
1. Start with Why: Finding Your Purpose
Sinek's "Start with Why" concept applies perfectly to students and graduates. Identify why you're pursuing your education or your chosen career path. What drives you? Connecting with your inner purpose fuels your motivation to overcome challenges and push past limiting beliefs.
2. Identify Your Current Mindset & Reframe Negative Self-Talk
Scan your current thoughts, write them down, even. There may be some that surprise you (and keep in mind, you're repeating these daily). Identify when you feel these thoughts started and , sometimes, who contributed to forming them if it wasn't just you. Clean out negative energies from your life so that you are not surrounded by those who do not support you, particularly when you need support most. Then, try reworking your thoughts when negativity creeps in. Instead of saying "I'm not good enough" or "I can't do this," reframe your self-talk. Shift these thoughts to "I'm learning and improving" or "This challenge will help me grow." Positive affirmations reshape your mindset and encourage a growth-oriented perspective and if you repeat them, they will come more naturally.
3. Embrace Challenges to Help Build a Growth Mindset
As a student or recent graduate, embracing a growth mindset is essential. See challenges as opportunities to learn and improve. Remember, setbacks aren't failures but stepping stones toward your goals and you are new to all this, after all. This mindset shift helps you view limitations as temporary obstacles that can be overcome with effort and resilience and also helps you to speak to your employers about where you want to go and how you want to grow.
4. Ongoing Connection & Support is Key
Don't hesitate to seek support from peers, mentors, or professors. Surrounding yourself with individuals who believe in your potential and challenge your limiting beliefs can provide valuable insights. Engage in conversations about your goals; diverse perspectives can offer fresh insights that break down self-imposed barriers. Be honest about where you are and who can help you. This is a great way to also build respect for yourself.
5. Celebrate Small Wins & How Far You've Come
It's important to celebrate even the smallest achievements. Whether it's acing an exam or securing an interview, acknowledging progress reinforces your self-belief. Each accomplishment serves as evidence that your perceived limitations are not insurmountable. Hindsight is 20/20 but if you can identify how you are moving the dial in the moment, you will feel more promising about who you are and where you are going. This will help you feel more positive.
6. Stay Persistent
Persistence is anyone's ally. Remember that growth and progress take commitment and time. Academic challenges and job searches may have setbacks, just like anything in life, but these are opportunities to learn and refine your approach. Stay persistent, and view each hurdle as a chance to grow - particularly when it feels hardest.
7. Take Action to Build Agency Over Your Life
Action is key. Take baby steps toward your goals each day, no matter how small they seem. Sinek reminds us that proving our capabilities requires action and determination. Every action taken, no matter how small, reinforces your belief in your abilities. (Small tip: Make your bed every morning. It sound silly but it's one way to be productive and clear out chaos right away).
By starting with your purpose, surrounding yourself with those who believe in and support you, identifying and reframing self-talk, embracing growth, seeking support, celebrating progress, staying persistent, and taking action, you can break free from limiting beliefs. It's important to note that you possess the power to reshape your beliefs and shape your narrative - ONLY you have agency over your future. With determination and a positive mindset, you can unleash your true potential and pave the way for a future career (and life) filled with purpose and success.