Career Success Delayed

Are you a procrastinator? I think everyone procrastinates at times, whether it is about getting tasks done, starting projects, or finishing old projects. People generally do not procrastinate on things they enjoy doing. When’s the last time you thought “You know, I just don’t feel like sitting in the recliner and putting my feet up this evening”?

People who procrastinate usually do so out of fear of some kind. Fear of failure or fear of success are the two most common reasons. Fear of failure is an easy one to understand, but fear of success? You would not think fear of success is a valid fear, but it is. Many people do not undertake a career change or a project because they are afraid of the changes that would occur in their lives if they actually accomplished the change.

I know a fellow who went to college and got a degree in mass communications with Photography as his major. He started his own portrait photography business and within a few months, his schedule was packed. He was very good at what he did and his prices were very reasonable. It looked like he was going to be a success.

One day, out of the blue, he closed up shop, sold his equipment and took a job driving a forklift in a warehouse for $9 per hour. When I asked him why, he said, “What would I do in five years when I was so busy I wouldn’t have any time left for my family?” He was afraid of the success that was on his way.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say “You hire someone to help!” That phrase actually came out of my mouth, to which he answered that he did not want the stress of supervision. Instead of handling success and all the complications of it, he just avoided it. Is he happy now? I don’t know. He has big money problems now, twenty years later that he would not have had if he had kept on the road to success in photography. That is a big stress factor for him. Did he just trade one stress for another?

We see many job seekers who procrastinate in their job search out of fear of success. They are afraid that if they get a new job, they may have to move or take on increased responsibility or spend less time playing golf. They are afraid of moving into a new environment with new coworkers or a new boss. Success procrastinators are unhappy in their present jobs but are afraid to make a move.

Symptoms of procrastination in the job search:

  • Continuous, unending revisions of your resume (whether you have written it or someone else has). The procrastinating job seeker uses the excuse that he does not believe his resume is ready for sending out. He agonizes over small words and tone, minute differences between terms, and what the meaning of “is” is.
  • The job seeker has started the resume development process but stops in the middle of the process. It is amazing how many people will invest in a professional resume and then duck out of the process when it is half-completed.
  • The job seeker invests in the resume development but never takes it further. He or she never sends it out or makes any effort to actually use the resume.
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