It’s said that we are our own harshest critics. But have you ever stopped to consider the cost of being so hard on yourself?
Yes, there is a cost, and it’s a steep one. Unchecked, an inner critic is responsible for actively keeping you from taking healthy risks – the kind of everyday risks that support getting your dream career.
I’ll give you an example: performance evaluations. These are a great example of how your inner critic can have a field day with your self-esteem (if you let it).
Let’s explore this; what is the most immediate response your brain sends you when considering these questions:
If the first thing your brain gave you was objective, considered and measured responses, that is truly worth a celebration (good ice cream for you tonight)! Seriously, that is a BIG accomplishment.
If your brain (like many) gave you crickets - or worse - judgement, then you have an active inner saboteur. Sadly, this source of sabotage is ground zero for holding you back in your career.
Let me be specific; an inner critic means you may not hold healthy boundaries at work (working way more hours than you need to). You may not ask (or be thought of) for the interesting work assignments. You may intentionally stay under the radar with your manager and others who could help your career. Or (and this one is really soul crushing), you have a great career but are so anxious about your work and delivering that you aren’t enjoying it.
It’s time to disarm your inner critic. Here’s how:
The truth is inner critics, imposter syndrome, etc. all “ring the catastrophe bell” in our psyches, telling us we are going to be “found out” and “fired”. It makes preparing for your performance review an emotional process, not an objective or uplifting one. Have you ever seen anyone get fired at a performance review? Very few people (VERY FEW) are ever fired for their performance - at any time of the year. You know this because in your career you likely worked with someone and wondered how they still had a job.
There is someone who can be fired - your inner critic (and you’re the only one who can do it).
Don’t let your inner critic hold you back, particularly during a performance evaluation; it’s the worst time to be passive about your career (or hard on yourself). Listen to what your inner critic has to say, then strip out the catastrophizing, be real about the facts. Celebrate what you’re learning by writing down answers to performance questions that tell the whole truth about your work this year.
AND if no one told you today, you’re amazing and your team is lucky to have you.