Because I'm a career therapist, most people love to start a conversation with me by saying, "Let me tell you my story." It makes sense. They've come to me to get answers. To get unstuck. To understand where they went wrong and how to get back on track. Thus, they assume I need to know all the events and details they've experienced that have led them to me. I get it. It makes them feel good to get it out of their heads. All that negative self-talk, i.e., doubt, disappointment, criticism, feelings of failure, etc. It's so emotionally draining. It feels really, really good to let it out. It's almost as if they're transferring it to me. I equate this to bringing your broken car into the shop and saying to the mechanic, "I'm leaving the car with you, and when I return I want it to look shiny and new and be running like a dream." But, alas, that's not how career transformation works. To get new, better results in your career, you need to commit to one thing. It's not hard. I've taught thousands of people how to do this. Literally, anyone reading this can do it.

Spoiler Alert: Your Story Ends the Same Way as Everyone Else's!

I don't think you'll be shocked to hear me say the reason you're so dissatisfied with your career has to do with you. For your entire career, that person inside your body has assessed, judged, and determined the situation you're in is not satisfactory. You've created the reality you aren't happy with. You've chosen to look collectively at your past and present career experiences and deem them not good enough. Which means you believe the future is the only chance you have at a better career. Here's the funny part. That person saying the past and present are total failures is the same person you're expecting to make the future better. Unfortunately, look at your track record. If you dig deep, you'll see you don't actually believe you can get the results you want. I mean, if you could have had a better career by now, wouldn't you have taken the steps to do so? Who purposely stays in career dissatisfaction? In short, you actually don't have any true confidence in your ability to achieve greater career satisfaction. That's the real reason why you won't succeed. As Oprah Winfrey says, "What you believe you achieve." And right now, you don't really believe you can do it. You want it, but you don't think it will happen. Which means it won't.

4 Simple Steps to Working "On" Your Career

The good news is everyone can commit to one career goal in the new year and make it happen. It doesn't cost anything but a little time to mentally work on your career. If you want different, better results, you've got to reframe your thinking. You need to get off the autopilot of working in your job. You don't even realize it, but you're filled with bad mental habits that are crushing your ability to succeed. You need to break the patterns of negative self-talk currently squashing your ability to take action and make things happen. Here's what to do:

Step 1: Schedule 30 minutes once a week to study your career. Working out, sleeping, brushing your teeth, eating--you need to schedule time for activities that matter. Everyone can find a 30-minute block each week to clear their mind and focus on their career growth. No excuses!

Step 2: Use the Experience + Learn = Grow model to properly assess your career story. Instead of just telling your story, it's time to analyze it. First, write out the epic novel that is your career story. Put down every little detail that comes into your head. Write and write and write some more, until there's nothing left to say. This might take you weeks (especially, if you are only doing this 30 minutes per week), but keep going until your brain is empty. Next, isolate each experience in the career story and ask yourself, "What did that teach me?" And, more important, "In the future, how can I apply what I learned to help me succeed?" By the time you're done, you'll have one heck of a list of career accomplishments. Which leads to the next step ...

Step 3: Train your brain to compliment the growth. The great thing about step two is that it turns every career experience into a positive accomplishment. When you grow, you win. It's that simple. The more you can see every unexpected career twist, turn, bump, roadblock, or setback as a growth moment, the more powerful you become. Suddenly, the more growth moments, the bigger the winner you are. And everyone loves being a winner!

Step 4: Consider ways you can grow some more. Once you get bit by the "I'm a winner" bug, something in your brain will flip like a switch. Suddenly, you'll see there's no real career failure. Just experiments. Some things you try in your career will turn out the way you want, others' will not. But, either way, you grow. And, therefore, win. This realization will lead to a new level of motivation to go out and make things happen in your career. I promise you, if you get to this point, you'll unlock the career potential you always wanted but never realized you could have.

So, what are you waiting for? I dare you to print out this article, log some time on your calendar, and get started. If you want greater career success in the new year, you've got to silence that negative voice in your head that's been telling you all along you can't. It's time to change the career narrative once and for all!

Published on: Jan 4, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.