Don't Let Your Past Determine Your Future

Clients often come to me looking for the perfect career and are looking for an exact blueprint that will send them in the right direction immediately. I definitely have tools to get you started on your search, but the most important thing you can do is to start looking at the beliefs you have about your circumstances. It can be difficult to look at ourselves with this kind of honesty, but you find some surprising things about what may be affecting your search for the “perfect job”. I recently found an article about how our past can affect our future careers. Even if it was not your exact experience, it may help you get clear on some things that may be standing in your way.

The study focused on women and the affects their social environment has on whether they will pursue their dreams of being an entrepreneur. The study conducted by Zhen Zhang, Assistant professor in the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, “surveyed about 1,400 female pairs of fraternal and identical twins, asking them various questions about their childhoods and work history to help find out whether genetic influences on entrepreneurship are fixed or whether they can be weakened or strengthened by the social environment”. ** The study showed that girls, who were exposed to physical or emotional trauma such as parental divorce or domestic abuse, significantly weaken the genetic influences on girls becoming entrepreneurs.

According to Zhang: “Even though DNA is fixed, it needs human behavior to manifest itself,” Zhang said. “It’s the same thing for someone genetically inclined to be a scientist or an artist – they still need to be nurtured through social and environmental factors. Girls who have a supportive environment during adolescence will be more likely to reach their full genetic potential as entrepreneurs, while those affected by negative, stressful events can have their natural genetic disposition weakened.”**

Before you start looking at your past as a demon that prevented you from truly living out your potential, it’s important to realize that you do have control over the outcome. What Zhang recommends for changing the impact of trauma is exposure to “environmental factors such as peer support, mentor programs, positive internships, and other activities where kids learn about financial independence and being a business owner can help mediate that. In the end, if girls get enough social and environmental support, their chances of becoming entrepreneurs can remain the same.”**

Even if you aren’t interested in being an entrepreneur, changing your circle of influence may give you access to career options that are more aligned with who you are. On a practical note: you could start attending networking meetings or other events that are in fields you may be interested in pursuing. This would put you in environments where you could learn and be encouraged by others.

On an interpersonal note, the most important thing you can do to start succeeding and pursuing your passion, is to give yourself encouragement. Give yourself permission to try new things and let go of the thoughts that are holding you back. Being successful is having the confidence to take a risk. Confidence is really a matter of telling yourself that you are good enough and worthy as you are right now. Confidence does not mean you are perfect and have it all together. It means you are willingly to take a risk because you know you can handle any outcome that arises. How can you build self-confidence?

Here are some ways to get started:
• Create new self-talk. Note how many times you criticize yourself through out the day. Give yourself messages that are positive and affirm your unique talents.
• When you find yourself fixated on the improbability of a risk being successful ask yourself: is it true?
• If you feel uncertain, create a plan B. Sometimes knowing how you will handle a potential outcome will give you the confidence you need to take the first steps.

The trap that many of us fall into is thinking that our limited beliefs about our circumstances and ourselves are an undeniable reality. In essence, we can only become what we think. Start examining and changing the limited beliefs you have and you will see your confidence and opportunities grow.

** From article, August 5, 2010

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