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  • Writer's pictureRenata Bernarde

Afraid of Success?

Episode 88 - How We Self-Sabotage Our Careers

Episode 88 - How we self-sabotage our careers

Are you sabotaging your career?

I often wonder: are people fearful of failure, or could they fear success? Regardless, corporate professionals tend to self-sabotage their careers. So this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast is dedicated to professionals who feel afraid or anxious about taking the next step to advance or change their careers.

Here is what I have learned from speaking to hundreds of professionals who are on the fence about what to do with their jobs and career progression:

1. It's impossible not to notice: Men invest in their careers more than women

When I decided to become a career coach, I thought I would work mostly with women. But ironically, most of my clients are men. When there are programs for self-improvement or programs for career development, men easily sign up for it. For women, it’s usually a couple of conversations, back and forth, but in the end, they usually decide not to continue and do it.

2. People think they are afraid of failure, but I believe they are afraid of success

Don’t be afraid of your success. Don’t be afraid of wanting to be successful or of wanting a better career. It’s completely ok to want something better for your life. If it's going to make you happier and you're going to get out more of this life, invest in it. It's great that you want to do something more for yourself and your career.

3. Some people don't believe that they deserve more

I believe that some people feel like they don't deserve more than what they already have. It saddens me when I talk to potential clients, and they decide not to sign up. As people reach out to me already knowing quite a lot about my work, the reason usually is that they fear how career advancement could disrupt their lives, or they don't want to invest in themselves. I have come to realize that work is hard, no matter what we do. It will always be tough to balance and blend work and family. However, it's easier if you a) earn more and b) are happier with your work and career.

4. We have been educated to spend and care for others more than for ourselves

When the air hostess explains before each flight that we need to put on a mask before helping others in case of an emergency, I have always found that incredible triggering. The video showing on the plane's many TVs shows a mother putting on the air mask, then helping her child. I believe they use that image on purpose. The airline company knows that every fiber in a mother's body will be telling her to do otherwise. The image hopefully will counter the way we have been wired.

The concept of always looking after others more than you look after yourself is self-sabotaging your career. And if you have children, it may be sabotaging their careers as well in the future.

5. We are not very good at assessing the value of an investment

Sometimes people say, ‘well, I can't invest in this, it's too expensive. Only to then invest in something completely useless, frankly. For example, I've had prospective clients not willing to invest in coaching, then enrolling in an expensive, yet completely unnecessary, third-tier MBA. If they wanted the student experience, considering my extensive experience with MBAs and executive education worldwide, they could have at least booked a 1-hour consultation to make sure they enroll in a program that would maximize the return on their investment.

Most MBAs are not going to make a difference in their ability to raise more revenue or achieve their career ambitions. Overinvestment in education is a real thing. Higher education is a very commercial business, and it often overpromises and under delivers, pretty much like hyped-up wrinkle cream.

6. "It's never too late to be what you might have been."

This is a quote from George Elliott, which ironically was the pen name of Marianne Evans, an English novelist.

I think people have this idea that success is like reaching the tip of a mountain: once you get there, there you are. That is not success. If you have ready biographies of important and celebrated people, you will know that the struggles can continue even when you reach fame and fortune.

Success is most likely a mindset, a frame of mind. It's also a plan well-designed for yourself, making you feel that you're in control of your life achievements. When you spend your life romanticizing and dreaming about an alternative lifestyle but never making plans to achieve it, you're bound to feel depressed. Making plans and taking small steps in the direction of your preferred future...well, trust me, it makes you feel comfortable, wherever you are in your journey.


Don’t be afraid of success. We need to relearn the concepts of success and failure. Maybe scramble success and failure together and understand that they may happen together, separately, and they are both important parts of a life well-lived. So much learning comes from trying and giving things a go. It's all a great experience and a great adventure.

We need to rethink success and failure when living our lives and making career plans. Also, we should not be so quick to judge ourselves and others in their career successes and career failures. Instead, remember to be kind to each other and yourself.

About the Host

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.

If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.

In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.

Contact Renata Bernarde

I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching:


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