Are things not turning out as you had planned? Are you not yet reaching the level of happiness or success you had hoped for? Many young professionals start out their personal and professional adult lives with big dreams and high expectations. As we venture along, however, many of us find that real life doesn’t always unfold that way we thought it would or should. Growing up being told that if we just believe in ourselves that “anything is possible,” many of us think that our happily-ever-after is simply inevitable if we just do the right thing. The problem with this way of thinking, though, is that we are often quick to place the blame on someone or something else when things don’t go our way. If you find yourself making excuses, claiming “it’s not fair,” or creating long detailed explanations for your subpar progress, it may be time to stop and consider who may be the real main character of your fairy tale-gone-wrong: you. Only when we learn to take full responsibly for ourselves can we grow to our full YP potential and achieve our happy ending. So stop making excuses and take a look in the mirror.
Be a (wo)man!
The purpose of these “Still?” articles is to highlight those habits and traits that many of us YPs tend to carry over from our younger years into adult life, which may be hindering our health, happiness, and/or success. Learning to take responsibility for ourselves is a major part of maturing and evolving as a young professional. It may have been easy to get away with blaming others for our shortcomings when we were younger: teachers who didn’t like us, employers who expected too much from us, girlfriend/boyfriends who didn’t trust, etc. But now we are all grown up and such excuses just don’t fly anymore. We may still be stuck with a boss or partner who has issues with us, but no longer does that give us reason to fail. We are adults now, powerful, educated members of society who should be looking only one place for the answer to why things aren’t going our way: the mirror.
Create your own luck
Sure, sometimes it can feel like the world is just not on our side. We all have those days that we stub our toe, hit every red light, lose that super important document, and unintentionally piss off a coworker. That feeling like we suffer from some uncontrollable bad luck can grow even stronger when we face even more serious problems like failed relationships, unemployment, or injury/illness. But what we must keep in mind is that as human beings we all have that wonderful and powerful feature of freewill. We may not be able to control the way others treat us, or even many of the things that happen to us, but what we can control is our attitude toward those circumstances and the way we react to such people. So instead of chalking up your bad days to some outside force of bad luck, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what you can and will do about it.
In the bad times, and the good
Taking the time to look in the mirror, to consider what we can do to better our circumstances and ourselves, is a useful habit not only when times are tough, but when all is great as well. When our personal and professional lives are better than ever, and our confidence is high and we’re feeling like the fairest in the land, stopping to reflect can help us maintain a sense of humility, to keep focused, and to ensure that we are always improving. Whether you are feeling on top of the world or down in the dumps, self-reflection and constructive self-criticism always have a place in the MO of productive, successful, and happy young professionals.
To learn more, keep an eye out for up an upcoming YPLife article discussing five questions we can all ask ourselves to aid in successful self-reflection.