Episode 296 Taking Control of Your Career


Take control of your career and life with empowering strategies to overcome limiting beliefs and embrace responsibility for your personal and professional success


In this week’s episode, we’re arguing for the importance of taking responsibility for our careers, work-life balance, and overall mindset. We explore how easy it is to blame external circumstances like poor careers advice from teachers, lack of support from parents, or toxic workplaces for our current situations. While these factors might hold some truth, the more empowering approach is to examine our own beliefs and stories that might be holding us back.

We’ll discuss the concept of limiting beliefs and how questioning their validity and usefulness can pave the way for positive change. I’ll share practical steps to bring awareness to these stories, assess their impact, and determine how to take control of what we can change. This episode aims to inspire you to own your journey and focus on what you can influence to move forward more effectively. Stay tuned for some invaluable insights and a sneak peek into our exciting mini-series coming this summer. Let’s get started!

00:00 Question assumptions, beliefs and narratives, seek improvement.

04:38 Evaluate beliefs for truth and helpfulness, subjective.

08:45 Consider hiring a cleaner to ease responsibilities.

12:08 Make small changes, take control of health.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*
1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. www.onestepoutside.com/coaching

Taking control of your career

When it comes to careers and business and work and employment and so on, it can be really tempting and it’s pretty easy and sometimes justifiable to blame circumstances or other people for what’s going on. So I can talk about how teachers didn’t give me the best careers advice growing up, or my parents sort of steered me in a direction perhaps that I later thought, oh, that’s not really where I wanted to go. Whatever that story is that I have that kind of puts the responsibility of where I am today on someone else’s shoulders. And it may well be that those things are true. It may well be that your parents and teachers didn’t give you great careers advice. On the other hand, in the present, it may also be that you’re in a toxic workplace and your boss is not supporting you, etc, etcetera. Right. But the question has to be, is that a helpful way of looking at things and what are you going to do about it? So this episode is all around taking responsibility, owning what’s happening to you, rather than blaming or resenting other people.

And I want to be really clear here that I’m not saying it is your fault. It’s not that I’m blaming you and you shouldn’t blame yourself either. We’re also not taking away any kind of responsibility from your employer, your boss, your partner, society, your parents. Right? I’m not saying that they have no part to play here either. What I am saying is that there is a more empowering way of looking at things that will be better for you now and going forwards. Right. That’s going to really help you out much more than living in this place where we’re kind of going, oh, I can’t do anything about it because of this is my upbringing and this is the history and this is how I got here and this is what’s happening now and I couldn’t possibly, and it’s not going to work and they would never, and so on. So again, it’s really possible that these stories are in some part true, that we didn’t get the best careers advice growing up. 

But can I then 20 years later go, oh, I’m in this career? Because my teacher at primary school didn’t guide me on choosing the right GCSE’s, I think. Not personally. So again, the question is, what’s a better story? I suppose that I can tell myself, how can I look at this differently to move forwards? And this idea of stories you’re telling yourself is something I’ve talked about many times in the past. Because in coaching, one of the core concepts that I learned early on was around limiting beliefs. So this is challenging, I think conventional, I was going to say wisdom, but just kind of experience. We take a lot of things for granted. We think of things as facts when actually almost all of them. And I’m not saying I need to caveat this, that there are no facts and there is no science and so on.

Right? So I’m not on that side of the crazy camp. What I’m saying is that there are things in life where we’re making assumptions, we’re holding certain beliefs, we’re telling ourselves certain stories because of things that we’ve experienced and things that perhaps were true in the past and so on, and that may now be holding us back. So it’s really important to bring our awareness to what those things are, begin to question them. Are they true? Are they helpful? And what would be a better way of looking at things? Another way of putting it is sound tracks. I really like that. So I think John Acuff wrote a book around sound tracks, which is exactly this idea of the beliefs, the stories we’re telling ourselves. So again, is it? Well, I’m on this career path because I didn’t get the career’s advice, or because I had to pay back my student loans, or because that’s what my parents did or my older siblings, or there’s some kind of explanation, justification for why you are where you are today. Or let’s take a different example, that’s kind of careers, choices and so on.

What about your work life balance and your energy and so on. Oh, I have to reply to emails Friday night, Sunday night, whatever, because that’s what’s expected of me on my holidays. My colleagues judge me when I leave early. My boss would never agree to me taking that time off or to a four day workweek. The job market is so bad, so I need to be grateful for the job I have. I can’t possibly. And so on, right. So if you want to, you can pause here and sort of journal reflect on and the different stories like that that you’re telling yourself at the moment when it comes to your career, when it comes to your work life integration and your goals, whatever that thing is that’s sort of bringing you to this episode and to the podcast overall.

I suppose at the moment, once you have that list and you can obviously come back and do this later or even if you have one or two key stories, right. Ask yourself, okay, I would start by saying, is this true? Meaning, what’s the evidence for this, right? So most of the time these are going to be quite subjective things that you’re not going to be able to prove as such. If that’s the case either, you’re not able to say it’s true, you know, so it’s not a falsifiable claim, I suppose you’re not able to say it’s false either. The more interesting question then becomes, okay, is this helpful, is this belief, this story serving me at this point? So yes, it was, you know, helpful for me maybe in my early twenties to go, oh, well, I’m doing this. So I’ve ended up in this career because of poor careers advice. And that kind of allowed me to feel better about not being where I thought I should be, right in my case personally. And I had studied development economics, international relations, wanted to work at the UN, I did internships in NGo’s in the UN and so on, but I ended up in the private sector doing marketing. And so that’s a helpful story for me to justify to myself and to other people, oh, I’m doing this because whatever that explanation is, justification.

So yes, at the time, maybe that was serving me. Is it serving me now? I mean, I’m no longer in that career. So for me this has work that I did, I guess, ten years ago. But no, it wasn’t serving me at that time because actually I have the choice to apply to jobs at the UN or NGO’s if that’s really what I want to do. And of course I then quit my job in 2013 and reflected on what I want to do and the rest is history, as it were. But that was one example in terms of career choices, in terms of, you know, work life balance again, and business, for me, there’s beliefs around, oh, I have to hustle at the beginning in order to get the income. I have to do all these things that everyone tells me to do because that’s how marketing works these days. I’ve got to create lots and lots of content, I have to cold message people, I have to dm everyone on Instagram or send lots of email sequences to people, do webinars all the time and do all this free stuff in order to then get the paid stuff, whatever that belief, right is.

And is that serving me? Well, no, because I’m basically, again, outsourcing sort of the strategy for my business. I’m saying, well, these other experts know better than me. I’m saying that the only way I’m going to be successful in the financial sense of the word, I guess for my business is by stressing myself out and, you know, having heart attack, feeling unwell, not spending time with my family and so on. And that’s not a great story to tell and it’s certainly not true. So, okay, is it serving me now? No. Is it within my control to change it? So in terms of, obviously, careers advice in the past, I can’t change that, but I can change what career I’m in now, I can change the next career’s decision I make. I can actually apply for things that are more within I want to do. I can upskill, I can, you know, learn, learn a new, do another degree.

I can do all sorts of things. I mean, I have colleagues and friends who retrain to be one. In particular, I think of. I saw pop up on Facebook the other day, she retrained to be a doctor, age 30, you know, so it’s never too late. But is it within your control to change it? You can’t change the past advice, you can’t change the manager’s personality, you can’t change the company values of your organisation. If the CEO is going, oh, everyone has to go back to the office full time and that’s what’s the drum that’s being banged, you know, you can’t change that. Okay, what is within your control? Well, within my control is my own productivity, my own choices when it comes to my time, how I’m identifying and communicating my boundaries and we’ll talk about that in another episode soon. I can shut down my computer at a certain time and have that boundary, you know, and say, I’m not going to do emails on Friday night and Sunday nights.

I can perhaps hire a cleaner or housekeeper if your financial situation is able to accommodate that, so that, you know, that stuff is taken care of, so you can focus on your work and whatever other responsibilities you have, caring for kids, for elderly parents, for whatever that looks like for you. So what is within your control to change? And then given all this, what commitment are you going to now make to move forward and take accountability, take responsibility, own what’s happening and above all, own how you’re going to move forwards. So just to recap, you know, outlining, bringing your awareness to the stories you’re telling yourself and they’re probably subconscious. It might be that, like me, you know, you’re spouting these things to other people. Oh, I can’t do that because. And so on. Or it could be that it’s just internal monologues that you’re having with yourself. It could be something you’re sort of wrestling with, with your partner at home or with your boss or colleagues or friends over a glass of rose in the summer.

But, you know, again, another distinction, I suppose, is other people’s stories don’t have to be your story. And we’re all so different. Someone else’s business parameters will be very different to mine. Whether they have young kids or not, whether they have just built a big house or not, whether they have an office and staff and lots of outgoings, which I don’t have. For example, you know, what, what kind of clients they work with, what’s their skill set, what’s their experience? You know, there are so many parameters that will affect how someone else is coming at something they’re upbringing, the stories they’re telling themselves, their limiting beliefs. And so, you know, relying on how other people see things, by all means. You know, we all like to get advice from other people, but that’s not going to be objective. Just take it with a grain of salt, knowing that that’s going through a philtre of their own beliefs and fears and so on. 

Right? So bring your awareness to the stories you’re telling yourself. Ask yourself, is this true? What’s the evidence for it? Whether true or not, is it serving you now? Is it within your control to change it? If it’s not serving you, if it’s not within your control, what is within your control? And what commitment will you make to move forwards and take accountability? And by the way, that decision, that commitment may well be to, you know, almost disassociate yourself from something where, no, actually, I don’t have control there right now. This is the situation. Yes, on paper, I could tell my boss where to shove it. I could quit, I could divorce my partner, whatever it is. But right now, I’m choosing not to do that for XYZ reasons. And so actually, my commitment is going to be to. To be present, to take care of myself.

It could be that I just don’t have the energy or health right now to make the big changes, you know? So your commitment’s rather going to be okay. My responsibility is going to be myself within the very limited parameters of this job, this business, this relationship, this situation I am still going to influence. I can control when I’m getting up in the morning. This morning I set my alarm early. I did not want to get up. After quite a few late nights over the weekend, I was very tired and beautiful sunny morning, I went out for a run before school drop off because I knew I wasn’t going to have time today and tomorrow. So I wanted to do that. Right.

So what little things like that can you do? Set the watch, set the alarm earlier, go to bed earlier is a big one for me because that’s one of the few things I’ve got control over when it comes to sort of health. In that sense, you know, what are the small tweaks you can make? Drink more water, for goodness sake. You know, there are little things that we can do to start taking care of ourselves more. So that’s my challenge to you. Again, I’m not saying it’s your fault. I’m just saying that blaming other people, above all, resenting other people is really disempowering. And so how can we reframe this? How can we focus on what is within our control, take responsibility for just a small part of it? Because there’s always going to be part of it. That’s our fault, if you want to call it fault.

Our responsibility, certainly. And what is our responsibility is our own health, happiness and future. So that’s, that’s where we need to be focusing our energy. Hope that was perhaps a timely reminder for you. And we’ve got some valuable episodes coming in the coming weeks and a fun little mini series coming up over the summer as well. So keep an ear out for that, I suppose I should say. Looking forward to seeing you back here next week. Thanks so much for listening.

Bye for now.


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1:1 Coaching & Mentoring

If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.


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