Your supportive friend, your hard-working colleague and even your loving partner may unknowingly be sabotaging your pursuit of a personal and professional growth. And you are thanking them for it!
Think about it. How many times have you shared an “I’m so ridiculously busy” story with a friend? You support each other, wish out loud that things were different and together commiserate about what can’t get done because of all the time-sucking events on your calendar. You laugh and pat each other on the back for fitting in time to shower.
What about complaining about the politics in your organization? You chat with your colleague about the circumstances that limit your chances at every turn. “Playing the game” is the only way to get ahead, but you and he have decided to simply put your head down and work hard. You are grateful to have a buddy as you “take the high road”.
Or maybe this one sounds like you: You’d love to switch jobs, but in this economy? I mean, THIS ECONOMY? Each time you broach the subject of a change with your partner and articulate your own fear of the idea, he commends your judicious decision to stay put. You feel comforted.
Can you see it? These well-intentioned people are colluding with the little voice in your head that prefers the comfortable status quo. While that little voice keeps you safe, it also keeps you small, because it tells you to remain where you are when you are really meant to be so much more.
I wish we had more voices like entrepreneur and author Meredith Fineman, who, in an HBR blog last month, calls us on our shtick right in the title of her piece:“Please stop complaining about how busy you are”. She voices her annoyance with this pervasive conversation topic in our society, and offers some suggestions on how to deal with a high volume of work. The message I heard is this: If you don’t like it, do something about it (except complain).
Just as Fineman is tired of people’s “busy” stories, perhaps it’s time to admit you may be growing tired of your own sorry-for-myself tale, whatever the theme. Catch yourself when you invite others to fortify it.
Instead, ask yourself: “what’s the 2% of my situation that I can control”? From there, start broadening the possibilities around what to do with this power. I think you’ll be surprised at your resourcefulness once you take some ownership of your circumstances.
It may take time, resilience and reminders as you create change. But you don’t have to do it alone. With a new narrative to share, you can go about realigning your loyal network to support your determination.