3 Things That May Be Keeping You From Reaching Your Career Goals

bigstock--150498062Many mental health clinicians have big career ambitions and goals for themselves, yet feel stuck and unsure of how to proceed. Whether it’s writing a book, starting a podcast, opening your own therapy practice, or creating an online course, there are a plethora of opportunities for mental health clinicians to advance their careers.

However, even as clinicians, we are not immune to many of the same challenges and struggles that our clients face when it comes to personal and professional growth. The following are three things that may be keeping you from reaching your career goals.

1. Believing Everything You Think

As humans we have thousands of thoughts per day. However, just because you have a thought, does not mean that it is true. Rather than buying into all of your thoughts, first work to simply notice and be curious about the thoughts that you are having. Then, ask yourself whether a specific thought is helpful or unhelpful. If a thought is unhelpful, try to come up with a more helpful coping statement.

For instance, let’s say that you are having the thought, “I shouldn’t even try to open a private practice. It’s too hard to get clients.” After noticing that you are having this thought, you might choose to ask yourself, “Does this thought help me to reach my goal of opening up a private practice?”

Once you recognize that this thought is unhelpful in terms of reaching your goals, you might choose to come up with a more helpful coping statement. For instance, you might choose to tell yourself, “There are many clinicians with successful private practices. It’s going to take hard work, but I know I can do it too.”

2. Beating Yourself Up

Often people think that “beating themselves up,” will motivate them and cause them to have great success. However, this practice can actually have the opposite effect. The reality is that “beating yourself up” for making mistakes or having unhelpful thoughts often makes people feel even worse.

Instead, work to treat yourself with self-compassion. Self-compassion is simply giving yourself the same kindness that you would provide to a love one. Self-compassion recognizes that all people are imperfect and makes mistakes.

Additionally, treating yourself kindly actually helps you to bounce back quicker in the face of setbacks and failure. Further, when you can reframe making mistakes as part of any process of growth, it enables you to no longer be crushed by setbacks that you will inevitably encounter on your journey of career growth.

3. Staying in Your Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is a safe place to be, however no real growth and change can occur there. Choosing to take professional risks and step out of your comfort zone can be scary. However, it’s important to note that this approach is the only way to effectively grow and change.  It’s critical that we work to step out of our own comfort zones in the same way that we often advise clients to do. Additionally, having a support system in place can be an incredibly helpful tool when working to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.

“Playing it safe,” can keep you stuck somewhere that you no longer belong and may stop you from achieving your full potential. The only way to truly “fail,” at something is to give up trying. As long as you are pushing yourself, you are succeeding and also serving as an inspiration to others who may be “playing small” in their own lives.

The Bottom Line

We are given one life and it’s so important to look at whether the way that you are living is in line with your ultimate goals and values. If your limiting beliefs, lack of self-compassion and “playing it safe,” are keeping you stuck, it’s critical to work to practice challenging some of these notions.

As mental health clinicians, our careers have the ability to change lives.  Stepping of your comfort zone, practicing self-compassion and using helpful coping statements, can help you to achieve your career ambitions and ultimately, to better serve the world.



3 Things That May Be Keeping You From Reaching Your Career Goals

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C is a therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland, specializing in working with teens and adults struggling with eating disorders, body-image issues, anxiety, and depression. She writes for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Connect with Jennifer at


APA Reference
Rollin, J. (2016). 3 Things That May Be Keeping You From Reaching Your Career Goals. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Nov 2016
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