New beginnings part 2: Barriers to a brighter future

By on April 12, 2017
Making the move to a new and better stage of your life and career without getting overwhelmed by the inevitable challenges and uncertainty the process it involves, is a challenge.

Last month I wrote about the importance of taking the time to create a clear vision of where you want to go before immersing yourself in the busy work of leaving Japan. This month, I want to inoculate you against the mindsets that create stress, complicate choices, impair strategic thinking and generally make it more difficult for you to navigate the path from where you are to a brighter future.

Focus on flow vs. FOMO.
Be conscious of what’s driving your choices. If you’re reading this and have managed to find employment in Japan in the first place, it’s safe to assume you’re a bit of a dynamo. This means it is highly likely the search for your next career landing place will bring up many good opportunities. Be curious about whether each opportunity is simply a good thing or your good thing. A job offering status and money might feel like a coup at first, but if it’s not aligned with your values and doesn’t allow you to do and learn in the areas of strength and interest that energize you, the money and status will soon cease to be fulfilling. It can, in fact, become a trap. Many of my clients express regret at having stayed in a job too long because of the money, power or prestige was too hard to let go of. The best news about golden handcuffs is that you hold the key to unlock them any time you choose. Part of being able to do this is learning to trust that there are plenty of great opportunities out there and that you will recognize yours when it comes along. If you catch yourself wanting to say yes to something because of FOMO (fear of missing out on a good thing), remember that good things turn bad pretty fast if they don’t allow you to flow with your natural strengths and passions.

Stop trying to be special and be unique.
Even though your parents might have spent endless hours telling you how special you are, you’re not. Special means “to be better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual”. There are millions of people out there who are just as smart, talented, ambitious, and creative as you are, so as hard as it may be to hear, you just aren’t that special. You are, however, unique. Snowflakes are each unique, but there are trillions of them, so they are not particularly special. Accepting this fuels career success because it helps you to let go of all the energy you waste trying to build a career that proves to yourself and others that you are better than everyone else. It stops the ego-battering cycle of constant competition and comparison and refocuses you on where your efforts are more likely to hit pay dirt – finding work that capitalizes on the uniqueness of who you are.

Don’t stop at the first right answer.
Dewitt Jones, a renowned National Geographic photographer turned professional speaker, offers this advice as essential to his ability to consistently create award-winning images over a decades-long career. Career fulfillment is not a destination, it is a journey. There is always another right answer. One of the most common concerns my client’s express when they start working with me is some version of the belief that there is one right answer. There isn’t. There are hundreds of them. When you stop thinking that you need to find that one perfect career path for you and instead engage fully with your experience of yourself and your work in the moment, you will begin to tune in to the clues of all the ways you can reframe your current life and work to be even more beautiful. You’ve already found your first right answer. It’s human nature to want to find another one because we instinctively know there are always opportunities to improve. Releasing the stress of seeking that one right answer, frees up the energy for you to find your next right answer. That will prepare you for the next one, and the next, and the next. Your past choices haven’t been wrong – just different right answers to the same question of how to live into your potential and live your best life.

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at

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