Career Expert Shares ‘Dangerous’ Side To Manifesting Your Dream Job
I see it, I like it, I want it, I.. got it?
Manifestation is a serious buzz word at the minute. A bit like kale, açai or Joe Wicks during the lockdowns. It’s got everyone – and I mean everyone talking. Last week I went home to Cork and I saw my mother reading Manifest, the Sunday Times bestseller, written by Roxie Nafousi and dubbed “the millennials answer to the secret” by Vogue. Now, a millennial my mother is not, but a lover of anything empowering and motivating she certainly is, and this book, after seeing and hearing about it absolutely everywhere was something she was determined to get her hands on.
Similar to my mom, I also love an empowering read, a self development book or anything that’s willing to give me and encouraging kick up the arse, but – and there’s always a but – I do worry about buzzwords like manifestation.
Before I delve in, for those who don’t know what manifestation is, although I doubt there’s many of you, it’s basically a fancy version of daydreaming, whereby the idea is that you can think your way to better circumstances. Be it a promotion at work, a new car or a bigger house. It’s the internet’s latest craze and has everyone from the likes of Kourtney Kardashian to Ariana Grande as firm believers in its power.
A nice, positive sentiment for dreaming big, sure, but problematic? Absolutely. Because although it’s nice to dream of a pay rise or climbing the next rung in your career ladder, to actually get there takes a lot of hard work… as well as self belief. Thinking that these things can be achieved by simply sitting at home and wishing for them is going to leave you disappointed, despite what the celebs say.
The popularity of manifestation rocketing at the beginning of the pandemic was no surprise. As the world felt like it was spinning out of control, the idea that you could forecast what would come next from the comfort of your couch felt oddly alluring during a time when everyone felt powerless to effect any real change elsewhere. But stepping into the real world, the process of ‘manifesting’ ignores socioeconomic and psychological reality and may leave people feeling guilty for not achieving their dreams or entitled to something which isn’t theirs to have.
‘Personally I think manifesting can be very dangerous. I’ve dealt with clients who’ve been advised poorly by other people in this space to give up a job, or to create an exit strategy and manifest, and that’s really dangerous and wrong,” explains career psychologist Sinéad Brady. “I think when we’re looking at someone that’s telling you to manifest it’s important to look at their qualifications first and what position they’re in to advise you on anything. Because unfortunately, it’s not a regulated space and there are people who are completely and totally unqualified to offer advice in this space and they’re making a very good living from it,” she adds.
As there are ethical guidelines that professionals need to follow when giving out advice, Sinéad notes that often other issues can also be at play and doctors or counsellors might be better suited depending on an individuals specific needs, again highlighting the importance of seeking advice from someone who’s qualified.
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Another issue we’re seeing with manifestation, and similarly so, something we’ve run into issue with in the past when celebrities talk about work – cue Moll-Mae’s “24 hours in the day” or Kim Kardashian’s note to “get your ass up and work” is privilege. “We have lots of different quandaries that people are stuck in and if you ask someone who is on minimum wage struggling to put a roof over their head and food on the table to manifest for better, they’ll start to blame themselves for not being able to get out of the situation that they’re in, but they have no agency,” explains Sinead. “They’re not in a position to manifest anything or to set goals, they just have to work really bloody hard.”
When you think about a fad diet, over the years research has shown that they simply don’t work. There’s no shortcuts to healthy and maintainable weight loss, and similarly so, the same concept can be applied when it comes to striving in your career. There are no shortcuts when doing it in a way that benefits you longterm. Of course, positive mindsets and attitudes can – to a certain extent – lead to more success but to actually get you to where you want to be on your career ladder and drive forward takes more than wishful thinking.
“In order to get ahead it doesn’t mean that you have to work every hour under the sun, reveals Sinéad. “But what it does mean is that for the hours you are there, you are active in your role, you’re pro-active, you’re productive and ultimately, you deliver. If you don’t do those things then career-wise, you’re not entitled to anything,” Sinéad adds. A tough pill to swallow in comparison to crossing your fingers and praying for the best, but surely one that provides a deeper insight into how you can effectively achieve what you want. Because although the idea of wishing for what you want might leave you feeling temporarily hopeful and giddily expectant, the chances of being letdown are far higher, and let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than that.
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Skill, ability, hard work, collaboration and communication are all the factors that Sinéad notes you need on your checklist when moving forward with your career, and although the trendy word of the season “manifestation” isn’t mentioned on her list, you can still of course wish for success as long as you’re not solely relying on it to see you through. Sadly, there’s no magical-thinking-approach when it comes to life, believe me – if there was, I’d be writing this feature from a beach in Tulum, but there are insightful tools and people out there who are ready to help you take that next step when you are.
Sinead’s top tip on reaching your career goals
“When you have a big goal you want to reach, take that goal and reverse engineer it into separate practical steps that are broken down. So, say you have a 12 month plan and at the end of 12 months you want to achieve ‘X’, well then you’ve got to reserve engineer it and ask yourself ‘what actions am I taking on a monthly basis? What action am I going to take on a weekly basis? On a daily basis what am I doing? How am I holding myself accountable? Who is supporting me to do this? Given everything that is happening in my life at the moment, is this practical within this time frame or do I need to spread the time frame further?’
“Just because you say it’s going to happen in 12 months doesn’t mean that it will happen in 12 months. And it’s not a negative outlook, just remember that when you put career goals in place, you also have to look after your physical health, your emotional health and your psychological wellbeing too!”
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