Breakthrough: an important discovery or an event that helps to improve a situation or provide and answer to a problem. (Cambridge English Dictionary)

Have you ever wondered why, despite all your hard work and efforts, you just can’t seem to move your career forward? You feel stuck? And then, to rub salt into the wound, others around you suddenly seem to be having all the career luck.

Or are you wondering if you’ve had your career breakthrough yet? If you’re wondering this, its likely the answer is no – a significant occurrence like this normally makes its presence felt!

There are many factors that contribute to (or detract from) building successful careers, namely mindset, behaviour, approach and situation.

I’ve worked with many hugely capable people over the years – as a boss, a colleague or as a coach – helping them build successful careers.

Here’s my view of what tends to be in the way and what you can do about it.

The Obstacles:

  • A Belief in Luck, Magic and Fairness! – Harsh but sometimes true. People can become wedded to the idea that when it comes to career, things will fall into their hands without the work required to put themselves in the right position.
  • Resistance – Blinkers firmly in place, people end up fighting the reality of their career situation, instead of looking at the situation from alternative angles and then leveraging the knowledge these views provide.
  • The Past – Often there are subconscious mental blocks that affect your career and the routes you take – things that people aren’t even aware of or that they subdue but which then end up holding them back. Either consciously or subconsciously, these can get in the way.
  • Attitude – Not everyone wants to be a “happy-clappy” person (definition– a person marked by enthusiastic participation). And that’s understandable and probably a good thing! Nonetheless, the evidence shows that accepting gratitude and positivity today will bring more success and happiness tomorrow. But still, for some, there’s a tendency in some to wallow in unreasonable levels of negativity.

Recognise any of this? Familiar when you stop to think about it?

So, what can you do about it? How can you breakthrough and start to move forward?

  1. Make Friends with Yourself.

Who do you think you are? Have you spent time mapping out the person you are and understanding properly what’s important to you and what it is that makes you you, and therefore potentially good at what you want to do? I still remember the moments in my corporate career where I was stuck and miserable – despite looking to others like life was a bed of roses. These were times when I felt that negative and upsetting experiences were my fault, happening to me because I’d lost my edge or didn’t have it in me any more, rather than understanding (as I do now) that it was because I was fully focused on striving to reach things for my company that just didn’t sit right with my own values. Proof, if proof was needed, that the things that mattered to me were (largely) what made me good at my job – then and now!

Put simply, trying to put heart and soul into something your heart and soul aren’t in will not lead you to happiness or success.

The Fix?

Take steps to really get to know yourself. A simple and honest SWOT is a good starting point. Or employ a coach to help you create a proper “portrait” of who =you are. e.g. Lumina Spark, which I happen to be a trained practitioner is – contact me if you’re interested to try this.

  1. Stop Arguing with Yourself!

I’ve seen it so often – people I’ve worked with who “deserved” a job or promotion/opportunity but didn’t get it. But sometimes, these same people, when challenged, realise that they weren’t being totally honest with themselves. The problem comes from too powerful a belief in “fairness” or being due something. But not seeing the bigger picture and keeping the blinkers on leaves you exposed to chance and reduces you chances of influencing the decisions that will make a difference to you.

The Fix?

Stop resisting the truth! If you’re not getting the opportunities you think you want or deserve, find a way to expand your view. See the whole picture, get the views of others, be brutally honest with yourself . Only from there can you really start to plan if you want to create breakthrough.

  1. Start Creating Yourself!

So, you think you’re just unlucky? Or you think the obstacles in your way are immovable? You’re doing everything you can, but nothing is happening? Your best efforts are good but obviously just not “good enough”?

But are you owning the you-you? Are you being honest with yourself and are you creating enough opportunities and building a robust and well thought through plan that clearly identifies a. your real goals, b. your current position, c. the options you have and 4. the steps to move things forward? Really? The whole plan? Can you articulate this?

The Fix?

Do the planning now. Maybe start with a simple plan on a page, set out your goals, your obstacles, your toolkit and skills and your key milestones and time-frames? Break down the elephant, planning and execution will help you achieve the success you want. And find people to help you with this. The more input from others at the right time and where you want it most, the more chance of change.

  1. Ask Difficult Questions of Yourself.

Everyone I coach – probably everyone I know, myself included – has subconscious beliefs that propel them forward or stop them dead in their tracks. In fact, these roadblocks often don’t even let us avert our gaze towards the tracks, closing off options before we even look at them.

Your subconscious mind is the gatekeeper of your comfort zone. Your brain is built to reinforce and regulate your life, but poor past experiences can block our ability to build more success by allowing us to hold on to untrue or unhelpful beliefs and fears.

The Fix?

Find a way either yourself or with the help of a trained professional, to understand and revise any beliefs, fears and behaviours that are holding you back. Many professional coaches like me are now trained in techniques like CBT, proven to help people unlock these unhelpful tendencies. Investing wisely and appropriately in this will help you to move forward and create the opportunities you’re looking for.

  1. Attitude Yourself

Formula: Working harder = more success = happier?



It’s now scientifically proven as completely the other way around. (evidnec link) There are a wealth of studies that prove conclusively that the more positive we are as individuals, the more our brains become engaged. We get more energetic, more motivated, more creative, more resilient and more productive – a whole bunch of “mores” for a change of mindset. No cost attached!

Reverse your formula and observe it. Your brain will do the rest.

Practice being happier and more grateful = more success = work harder and happier

there’s plenty of evidence available now if you’d like to research this a bit further but here’s a quick link to an article I liked. 

So, in conclusion, you don’t need to wait for things to change. Change is waiting there for you. Acting now with a coach, a mentor, colleagues, your boss, contacts and maybe using some of the tips and thoughts above will help propel you to the breakthrough you want.

I’m a career and executive coach, dedicated to helping individuals overcome their obstacles and achieve the things that really matter to them. You can coach directly with me by contacting me at [email protected]. I offer a free 30-minute initial consultation for those serious about change and finding breakthrough but not sure of where to start.