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February 17, 2022

9 Warning Signs You’re Settling For Less In Your Career

We’ve reached a moment in history where a record number of people are finding the courage to change careers, transition into new roles, and pursue new exciting opportunities.  Yet, despite the shifts occurring in the workforce right now, there are high-achieving professionals still settling for less than they deserve in their careers, and many don’t even realize […]

We’ve reached a moment in history where a record number of people are finding the courage to change careers, transition into new roles, and pursue new exciting opportunities. 

Yet, despite the shifts occurring in the workforce right now, there are high-achieving professionals still settling for less than they deserve in their careers, and many don’t even realize they’re making this mistake. If you’re not sure if you fall into this category of professionals, these phrases are a giveaway that you might be settling for less in your career:

“I can make this work.”

Typically, this is a positive and affirming statement to make, particularly when faced with challenges or setbacks. But, if you find yourself constantly saying this right before you apply to a job that you’re not too excited about, then you’re likely settling for less and preventing yourself from having a career that energizes and fulfills you. 

“Maybe this is the best I can do.”

At some point in a negotiation, it’s good to know when you’ve reached a mutually-beneficial compromise so that you can accept the terms and move forward. But, when you start negotiating with yourself, trying to convince yourself not to rock the boat despite how unhappy you are at work and in your career, then chances are it's not the best that you can do, especially if you haven’t explored other options.

“My job isn’t so bad.” 

While you may have a decent, well-paying job, with great benefits, if you constantly feel like something is missing or that you could be doing more with your skills and expertise, saying, “My job isn’t so bad,” over and over every time you have a not-so-bad day will not wash away those thoughts. It only suppresses them and causes you to settle for a decent not-so-bad job. 

“I’m being ungrateful.”

When you have an envy-worthy job or when you work at a company that others have on their wish list, it can be tempting to diminish your unfulfilled feelings with gratitude. Of course, it’s important to be grateful for each opportunity you have, but you can be grateful and still want more for yourself and your career. 

“I just have to take whatever I can get.”

Not only does this statement result in settling, it often hints at a scarcity mindset that says, “I’m afraid my options are limited, and I won’t find anything else.” When you assume that you have to take whatever you can get, you relinquish your power to find what you would actually like, want, and enjoy. 

“I’m just going to wait it out and see.” 

Patience is a virtue and an essential life skill. But, if your default solution when it comes to growth in your career is to wait and see what happens, then you’re likely settling and not being resourceful or proactive enough about having the career that’s possible for you. 

“Why would they hire me?” 

When reading job descriptions, if you ask yourself this question even though you have the majority of the skills and expertise they’re looking for in the role, then you’re disqualifying yourself before the race even starts. When you do this enough times, it reduces your options and leaves you with decent, not-so-bad jobs that won’t challenge, motivate or inspire you to grow in your career in the way that you desire. 

“I can’t be myself at work.”

When you aren't able to be yourself at work, it can be overwhelming because not only do you have to deliver quality work, you also have to pretend to be someone you're not, which counts for two jobs. You’re ultimately settling for less because there are companies that will value the very qualities you feel you have to hide. 

“Maybe I’ll find a better job someday.”

Even though you may be unhappy, overworked, and drained from your current job, sometimes it’s more comforting to daydream about a better career and life than to put a plan in action to have a better career and life. But, if you find yourself constantly putting off landing a better job, you’ll soon start believing that you’re stuck instead of the truth, which is that you’ve been settling. 

How to stop settling for less in your career:

Settling isn’t a choice people happily make for themselves. Often, people settle out of fear. It could be the fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, or even fear of rejection, and, in light of that, settling can feel like the safest choice. 

But, if you want to stop settling for less in your career, first, you have to acknowledge what fears might be holding you back, then give yourself permission to pursue what you want to experience in your career. You have to be willing to challenge the status quo and stop making excuses for yourself and others. It might even help to surround yourself with people who have already accomplished the goals you thought were out of reach for you. All in all, it starts with deciding that you can have a better career and then taking the small steps required to make it your reality. 

Adunola Adeshola coaches high-achievers on how to take their careers to the next level. She is the author of the guide How to Go From Zero Interviews to Dream Job Offers.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.

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