Judith here. Recently I was speaking with a young woman in her mid-twenties who had just been let go from her position at a start up in the UK. She was disappointed and not sure where to turn. The clear problem she was facing was that she had never looked at her work as a milestone in a career, but had merely felt grateful to be hired into a new job that paid a bit more than the one she’d held before.

CareerOn the other hand, in conversation with a summer intern at a Silicon Valley company who will graduate college next year, it was quite clear that this young man has been creating a career ever since he entered high school—where he graduated head of his class. During his high school years he successfully created two start-ups, made connections in the world of non-profits, and actively helped shape student governance throughout his three years of elected participation.

Which one do you identify with?

Looking back at my early years as an actress in Los Angeles and then in New York after I’d graduated from college (credits available at IMDB for Judi Sherven if you are interested), it’s painfully obvious that I only had “jobs,” never a career even though an acting career was often beckoning and sometimes even shouting at me. I closed many an open door rather than step up to the invitations that would have carried me forward because I couldn’t imagine the possibilities they held for my larger future.

I’d been raised to believe that my future would be defined as a wife and mother. Oh, it would be great fun to earn extra income with occasional acting gigs, but my first priority, as I imagined it, would be home and hearth and attending to my husband’s business-related social network.

While my Unconscious Allegiance to that early programming guided nearly every decision about acting, the fact is that my Unconscious Allegiances also interfered with my actual availability to marry. So it wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties, over 20 years later, that I met and married Jim Sniechowski.

So I carry a deep passion, born in part from my own regret at what I missed out on had I been able to create what would have been a very successful acting career and about the painful price people pay when they cannot see their way to having a career. They can’t even imagine it, can’t believe that a “career” applies to them. So they suffer from frustration going from job to job to job.

Now, for many people a job is what they consciously want. They simply want to earn a living. They don’t want the responsibility of anything more. They don’t want the competitive atmosphere, the increased visibility, the company politics that can come with a career. And they are quite clear that what they do want is maximum time with their family, time dedicated to their health and fitness, and perhaps travel or volunteer work. So a job is perfect.

But if you long for a career — to be known for and identified with a set of specific skills and expertise, to grow that expertise and advance through a series of well thought through employment positions where you can achieve more and more influence and success all the while earning commensurately more and more financial gain — then you must establish this within your own identity and within the perception of those you currently work for and with. And if that’s not possible, then it’s time that you search out a new position, probably at a new company, maybe even in a new field, where you CAN establish yourself as having a career that you will be owning and growing.

And if you do have what you call a “career” but it’s not going anywhere, what is it that you’re telling yourself that’s keeping you from demonstrating a commitment to taking your expertise forward in a manner that would be what you want?

If you don’t have a ready answer, think back to how “desire,” “ambition,” and “big success” were treated in your family, during your school years, and with your friends as you were growing up. Is there anything back there that snuck into your unconscious that’s been making a larger professional life feel “out of reach” or “forbidden”?

Unconscious Forbiddances show up in our lives in a vast variety of ways, and we create totally believable stories that keep us unaware of what’s really going on. So take the time now to explore whether you have a career or a job. And if your answer is that what you have now is a job, but what you actually want is a career, what can you do to start changing how you function in your current position so that you can eventually be considered for a promotion that would advance your desire for a career?

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD http://JudithandJim.com have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out http://WhatReallyKilledWhitneyHouston.com.

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous http://OvercomingtheFearofBeingFabulous.com.