Stop for a moment and play a little game with me. I am going to give you two sentences and I'd like you to be aware of what thoughts come up as you say them to yourself.
Ready? Let's go!
The first one is, “I have to do everything I need to in order to reach the top.” Say the statement a couple of times to yourself and notice what images come up and what feelings arise.
Now the second sentence, “I just need to earn enough to fund my lifestyle and that will be okay for me.” What comes up when you read the second sentence?
Were the feelings different? Did it generate a different image for you in your mind?
These two sentences are examples of beliefs. They are statements we see as being true about ourselves and the world around us.
Neuroscientist and author of "Born to Believe," Andrew Newberg, describes a belief as being, “like a map, a neural representation of an experience that seems meaningful, real, or true.”
If you look at the two sentences again, you'll see there is nothing about the sentences that is wrong; there is nothing that makes you question their sanity like, “I have to do everything I need to do in order to become a giraffe!"
That is the thing about beliefs: It is less about them being factually correct and more about the effect they have on you and the life you live.
In your career, beliefs will play a big part in determining your career success.
When we take out the "right time, right place" opportunities, what is left is an arsenal of belief systems that can determine your path.
Through my work as a coach and my insatiable fascination with human behavior, I can see three ways your beliefs will determine your career success:
They forge your attention.
I believe "House of Cards" is one of the best shows around, so I will never miss an episode.
Alternatively, I believe "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is a form of torture and as a result miss every episode.
In a study on career satisfaction, researchers found — after analyzing data from 11,000 US workers — the largest indicator of workplace satisfaction was the belief the work they did had a positive impact on others.
It is no surprise then that in another study, it was found that the careers that had the most job satisfaction were doctors, dentists and armed forces.
The belief your job is making an impact forges your attention to do the best work you can do.
They determine your ability to cope.
A trick used people in the military use to get through strenuous exercises is saying to themselves, “If they can do this, I can.” Compare this to someone who says, “This is too hard, I can't cope with this.”
A career isn't just three years (the average time a Millennial stays in one job); it's until you retire.
In that time, there will be success and jubilation, and there will also be uncertainty and worry (as the recent recession showed).
Your ability to cope will be determined by what you believe to be true about how you can handle sh*t hitting the fan.
They influence what you'll go for.
You have an opportunity for a promotion. You're excited and think you have a great chance, then you find out it involves you having to do a presentation in front of 10 high-level managers on what you would bring to the new position.
One problem: You are petrified of presentations. You are certain you'll mess up your words and act erratic, like in the presentation you did last year.
Suddenly, excitement for the promotion turns into self-doubt, and the prospect of not going for it.
Your beliefs influence what you go for. This can be seen everywhere from the sports field to the bar.
In your career, if you believe you can achieve professional success, you'll do whatever is necessary, despite what feelings come up.
An indication of this was shown in the sports world when researchers found no discrepancy between elite and non-elite swimmers in the intensity of pre-race anxiety.
The only difference was the elite swimmers were far more likely to describe their anxiety as positive leading into their performances than the non-elite swimmers were.
As you move forward with your career, you will see the success in what you achieve isn't just about how competent you are, but it's also about your beliefs about what's possible.