We all want to have a fulfilling career but the reality is that only a minority feels fulfilled at work.
You might be wondering the reason behind this. Would you be surprised if I tell you that our brain is greatly responsible for this?
There is scientific evidence that explains how our brains are wired to make the process to find work that matters to us a challenge.
REASON NUMBER 1: THE PARADOX OF CHOICE
Our brain doesn’t like to make choices. Have you ever been to a restaurant with one of those extremely long menus? It takes a while to make a decision, doesn’t it?
And even when you finally make a decision, do you feel satisfied with your selection?
Well the same thing happens when we contemplate other career paths. Many ideas and options come to mind: Should I start working for a startup? Transition into yoga teaching? Become a digital nomad and travel the world? Or should I stay in my current job?
Having too many choices makes it harder to make a decision
And even when we make a decision, our brains keeps asking “Would it have been better to order that other dish…. or what would have happened if I had stayed at my job...”
When we are confronted by too many options our brains freeze and find it hard to make a decision and even when we make one we tend to feel unsatisfied.
REASON NUMBER 2: SHORT TERM VS LONG TERM
We are naturally wired to prioritize short-term actions to long-term ones. It’s our survival instinct kicking in.
Have you heard about the marshmallow experiment?
Scientists from Stanford give kids the option to eat a marshmallow now or wait 30min and have 2 marshmallows. You can see kids struggling with the natural urge to eat the marshmallow. Waiting seems the rational option but as we can see by the experiment it’s not our natural instinct.
We want short term rewards and creating a fulfilling career takes time & effort. I’m too tired from work this week, I would update my CV next week…. Would be a great example of this 2nd reason.
REASON NUMBER 3: EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE
We tend towards things that are good for us and move away from things that aren’t. We are all attracted by a piece of chocolate but we move away from uncertainty, fears and negative emotions.
It will seem natural to move towards a fulfilling career but when we do, we are confronted by fears of failure and uncertainty.
We can decide to experience those emotions and persevering towards our long term goal of career fulfillment or we can choose to stop those emotions and stay where we are now.
By understanding how our brains work we can learn to be kind to ourselves and keep working towards a fulfilling career.
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