Failure to launch because of workplace obstacles or resistance? How to take off in your career.
Failure to launch because of workplace obstacles or resistance? How to take off in your career.

plane taking off - metaphor for workplace obstaclesI’ve been on countless flights over the years but somehow, I’d never really thought about the fact that planes take off facing into the wind. Sure, I’ve felt some pressure during a forceful lift-off but I thought it was all due to speed — not resistance. The fact that planes take off against the wind is an interesting and useful metaphor for so many events in life.

Getting and starting new jobs, launching major projects, or making any meaningful change often feels difficult to navigate. Sometimes it feels like a very bumpy road or it can be as unsettling as turbulence. It’s as though there are hidden obstacles and pressures that keep pushing us back and making it harder to accomplish our goals. The gravity of how hard this can be keeps many people down and unable to find the means to take off in their professional lives and in other important endeavours.

Recently an acquaintance who was also a former client revealed to me that she had been seeing a psychologist to deal with her fear of flying. The phobia had become so disruptive that she could not handle renewing her passport never mind plan a trip with her family. “The longer I stayed grounded the harder it had become to even imagine taking off in that plane … just the idea of it made me panic,” she told me.

smooth flying after workplace obstacles dealt withI’m happy to report that in only six months of seeing someone for this fear of flying my former client has gone on two trips overseas and she is already planning her third for this winter. When I congratulated her on all her hard work in facing that fear with the help of a clinical psychologist, she kindly reminded me that I had done something similar for her years ago.

It’s easy to see that, yes, clinical psychologists help people manage certain types of “emotional turbulence,” but in many ways as a Work and Business Psychologist (officially known as Industrial and Organizational [I/O] Psychology) I also help people steer through many life changes, navigating around workplace obstacles, helping to direct the take-off of their careers, and more importantly, to make those transitions as smooth as possible, and ensure that clients land safely in the right work roles.

What are some of the ways that people encounter resistance to their professional lift-off because of workplace obstacles?


Five Times When It’s Important to Make the Effort, Regardless of Resistance or Other Workplace Obstacles:

 1. Self Doubt and/or Fear of Failure.

No pun intended, but many clients say that taking off or switching directions in their careers comes with a real fear of crashing. No one wants to have their livelihood threatened, or fail to launch. This is often the biggest obstacle:  the resistance created by one’s own doubts, and internal pressure we place on ourselves. This can be offset by certain mindsets and tackling the impostor syndrome.


2. Getting Away from an Unhealthy Work Environment

relief after working around workplace obstaclesWhen we are worn down from ongoing harassment or bullying at work it is usually difficult to have the emotional energy to find a new job. Moreover, when we are depleted by these circumstances, we may not show up as the best version of ourselves when interviewing for a new job. In my experience, one solution is working with someone (like me) who understands the key issues and will help you – and future employers – see your value. This is especially impactful when my clients are skilled and experienced but have been treated as though they are poor performers. I work with my clients to ensure that their applications and answers to interview questions demonstrate how they have made worthwhile contributions in the past and can continue to do so in the future.


3. Bouncing Back After Becoming a Scapegoat and/or Fired

When we have been a scapegoat and possibly even fired our confidence is often at an all time low. To make matters even more difficult, it can be awkward and challenging to find suitable job references that will enable us to get our next position. Taken together, these circumstances can feel very hard to overcome. But it is possible with some strategic and creative thinking combined with some hard work much as possible.


4. How to Climb Back up After Falling Over a Glass Cliff

The glass cliff situation is a very specific type of career setback that typically happens to women or minorities/racialized people. It is especially complicated because it often happens in high visibility situations. Depending on your role you may benefit not only from career coaching but other integrated services to help repair your reputation. In some cases, even legal action is a smart way to quietly get the support that you deserve in order to move on with dignity.


5. Overcoming Underemployment

happy woman after overcoming underemploymentWhen we have been underemployed or overqualified for too long, we can adopt a mindset that makes it feel as though our circumstances are permanent. We can falsely believe that our jobs are what we deserve and all that we can accomplish. Moreover, when we’ve been pigeonholed for a period of time it can be hard to get others to see us in a different light.


man excited after overcoming workplace obstaclesThese five common workplace obstacles feel significant and can make it seem like there’s no way forward to a better work situation. In reality, however, just as a plane can take off against the wind, motivated people with the right tools, systems, and support in place can safely launch or relaunch their careers.


If this blog post resonates with you (or someone you know) I invite you to contact me privately by phone (I offer a no-obligation, free 15-minute initial phone consultation)emailTwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.


More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.


I/O Advisory Services – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations.™


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