by Taylor Slattery | July 12, 2022
The way we view the world shapes our reality. The same life events can have completely different impacts on people depending on their inclination toward optimism or pessimism. For one person, not landing a job might be taken as a sign that something better is waiting just around the corner, while for someone else, being passed over might confirm some deep-seated insecurities surrounding their self-worth.
For most, the development of a worldview is an unconscious process that begins in childhood. It’s the result of a constant feedback loop shaped by our interactions with others and natural proclivities that affect the way we process and internalize events. Our interactions show us how we’re viewed by others, and over time, a self-image begins to take form. It’s because this process happens largely unconsciously that these tendencies are often thought of as being inherent or fixed parts of our personalities. Whether inherited or the result of our upbringing, some people just seem to be upbeat and others, gloomy.
These tendencies manifest in every facet of life. Like a pair of sunglasses, the lens through which we view the world tints everything we look at, for better or worse changing its color. Depending on the pair we don, we’re either viewing something in the best possible light or dying it in our insecurities, both of which can positively or negatively impact our careers.
If you approach an interview feeling like this is your one and only shot, you’re more likely to adopt a tense, anxious energy and fall short of presenting the best possible version of yourself. If this interview is just one of several you’ve got lined up for the day, you’re more likely to be relaxed and confident in your answers, because you’ve given them several times already.
This is the basic idea of the abundance mentality. The term was coined by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Beyond just general optimism, abundance mentality refers specifically to a framework for viewing opportunity. Similar to the idea in dating of there being plenty of fish in the sea, this framework is applicable to every area of life. The local cafe ran out of your favorite danish? No worries, they’ve still got plenty of other sweets to try. Someone outbid you on your dream house? Oh well, there will be other properties to fall in love with.
While this mindset can certainly help you to lower your cortisol levels, where it begins to have a real effect is in your interactions with others. Internalizing this idea of abundance allows you to approach any given interaction more confidently because there’s nothing at stake for you. When your success doesn’t hinge on the outcome of a conversation, you’re able to relax and others can sense this, and so begins a new feedback loop that will further reinforce this worldview.
So how do you go about developing an abundance mentality, or escaping a scarcity mentality? Like the sunglasses analogy from before, if we don’t like the pair we have on, it’s fully within our power to swap them out for something new.
The easiest way to break bad thought patterns is to present yourself with proof that invalidates them. Our worldviews are shaped by feedback loops, after all, so if we can change the input for the better, the output will follow.
Let’s start by identifying the negative thoughts we need to invalidate. Two of the most common insecurities that may plague candidates when entering a job hunt or interview have to do with job scarcity and qualifications. Scarcity can present itself in a couple different forms. It may look like a lack of opportunities in general, or a lack of opportunities like this one. In the case of the former, you may feel as though there are few opportunities in your area or in your field. In the case of the latter, you might have found an opportunity that checks all of your boxes and are now blinded to the possibility of pursuing any others.
In both cases, scarcity is clouding your judgment and can negatively impact your behavior both during the interview and after should you not land the role. So how do you provide yourself with evidence to invalidate this belief and shift your worldview away from scarcity and toward abundance? The solution to both is the same.
Look at lots of job listings. Make a habit out of spending some time every day just looking at job listings and vetting them for fit. This will help you to realize the sheer number of jobs in existence and provide you with other options you can use to overcome attachment to any single job. If you’re open to remote work, there are hundreds of new listings every day. When you always have another prospect in the chamber, you can approach any single interaction or interview with more confidence knowing that if it doesn’t work out, there will be plenty of other opportunities to follow.
So now that we’ve established that there are plenty of jobs in existence, and found a means of reinforcing this belief through habitual input, we can move on to tackling the qualification aspect of the negative thought pattern.
Creative work is often thought of as being subjective, so it can be hard to know where we stand in comparison with others. Every company has a preferred aesthetic and a mismatch here can lead to you being disqualified from an opportunity. That said, there are certain undeniable, objective qualities of work that you can use to judge your qualifications. Have a look around at some of the companies you’d like to work for and see how the quality of their work compares to your own. Seeing that your work is of equal or greater quality is another form of proof you can use to help validate your abundance mentality. If you’re at least as good, it would stand to reason that this company and others like them would be willing to hire you. If your work is even better, then you have that much more confidence in approaching companies of equal caliber or higher.
If however, in your comparisons, you find that your work doesn’t stack up to the quality of the companies you’ve been applying for, this can be positive, too. You can use this information to go in one of two directions. You can either adjust your approach and apply to companies with a more similar aesthetic, thereby increasing your odds of landing a job, or you can take some time to further develop your craft and create a portfolio of work on par with the companies you’re aiming to work for.
The lens through which we view the world can have a profound effect on our self-image, relationships, and career. If you’re struggling in any of these areas, it’s worth taking a look at your worldview and assessing if your beliefs are rooted in evidence or assumptions. In order to build a better worldview, and improve the aforementioned areas of life by extension, you need to interrupt the feedback loop by providing yourself with a new type of evidence that reinforces the belief you’re trying to adopt. All it takes is one small change to the feedback loop’s input, and over time the effects compound, moving your worldview into the space of abundance.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.