Many of us resist giving things up because we’ve always had them, or we might use them again one day. It’s incredible how much stuff you can accumulate, especially when you haven’t taken the time to assess whether you still use or need it.
Case in point: Over the weekend, I spent time cleaning out a drawer, which led to a few more, and then to my closet. I filled bags with donated clothes and gained some much-needed breathing room for my wardrobe. Even better? I know what I have and how it fits this season of my life. It also made clear what I still need.
The same perspective could be applied to your professional world. Consider the baggage we hold on to from our past professional lives and former careers. Much like outdated suits that are no longer worn or necessary, there are things dragging you down and preventing you from making room for what’s now relevant in your professional life.
Let go of these items to move ahead in your career:
People and things that support your history, not your destiny
Your environment, which includes your friends, colleagues, location, habits, and lifestyle, impacts you far more—for better or for worse—than you realize; it always wins. You’ve likely grown and evolved, and what once worked for you has probably changed. You can’t make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment.
Remember to be mindful of the company you keep and the activities that you engage in, and ask yourself if they support what you want to do, not just what you’ve done. Real growth happens when we understand whom and what best supports our goals and then align ourselves with those people and things that do.
Are you still clinging to plans you made for yourself a decade ago? Or maybe you feel locked into the expectation someone else—a teacher, a parent, or an old boss—placed on you?
Reassess and gain clarity on what you want, drop any outdated notions, and then forge your own path.
You’re not doing yourself any favors by hoarding past career experience that has nothing to do with how you want others to perceive you. If someone views your CV or LinkedIn profile but is confused by how you position yourself, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
When you’re telling your career story, ruthlessly pare down your information, omitting the experience that doesn’t align with your goals.
Comparison and envy
The jealousy you harbor of your well-to-do peers can make you feel bad about yourself. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment when you try to compare your journey with another’s, particularly when that person is decades ahead of you in their career. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Instead, adjust your perspective and lose your envy by reframing it into a learning opportunity. Study the behaviors and actions of your co-workers and colleagues to learn what worked and what didn’t, not to replicate their path, but to advise your own.
The stories we tell ourselves are the most important words we speak because those are the ones that we play on repeat in our heads. When you fill your head with negative self-talk like I’m not good enough, I’m not ready, or I’m just a __________ (whatever you are now), not a _________ (whatever you’d like to be), you prevent yourself from learning, growing, and stretching your wings.
Instead, use a little compassion, and treat yourself the way you would a treasured friend. Words have power, especially the ones you say—or don’t say—to yourself. By replacing self-sabotaging talk with self-affirming talk, you’ll abandon limiting beliefs and adopt a growth-focused mindset.
The number one barrier to success isn’t your lack of talent; it’s fear.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.
Until you take responsibility for your growth journey, everything will remain the same. To make progress, you need to muster the courage to acknowledge and let go of your fears. By doing so, you’ll get out of your own way and gain traction in your career.