Ep 99: Break Through Burnout Part 5 | When Climbing the Ladder is a Terrible Idea


  • Bust through myths that climbing the ladder is a "good thing"
  • What we're socialized to believe surrounding growth
  • Four concrete steps to take when growing in a career or in life

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Do you remember being in high school and playing sports or being a part of a group and wanting more? Thinking that if you get onto Varsity or get into that 'cool group' that you'd feel happier or proud?

As adults, we are rewarded as a society when we climb the ranks of the ladder whether it's socioeconomic status, career, the house we buy, etc.

The main reason we think we want to climb the ladder and get to the next rung, is because we are hard wired to feel a sense of belonging. And with each rung, we enter a new 'pack' or group.

So we are inundated daily with messages to get that next promotion, find that new job, start that new hot career. What our brain and society has told us to believe is that when we climb the ladder, we'll have more respect, make more money, work will feel better, we'll be happier, and life will be easy.

But this is a big fat lie. When we climb the ladder to rid ourselves of insecurity - we burn ourselves out because we take the same shitty feelings with us when we get to the next rung.  And we have to remember that the outside circumstance can't change what is going on internally.

This is when burnout happens.

And the only thing that can change a feeling are your beliefs. So here are 4 concrete steps to take you want to climb the ladder:

1. Start with your why - are you following a desire?
2. What do you choose to think?
3. How do you want to feel?
4. Who do you need to stop being, to get there?

Remember that the reasons to climb any ladder are to access fun, love, curiosity, and a place of believing "I'm enough."

Learn more about my corporate coaching course The Rockstar Program.

If this episode inspired you, thank you for leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.

You can also comment on this podcast's Instagram post or take a screenshot of you listening and post it to your Instagram stories, LinkedIn, or Twitter.Tag me @sarahlmoody.

You got this, rockstar.

Download Full Episode Transcript

Sarah Moody: Welcome to rock your brain. Rock your life. Hi, I'm Sarah.

And after decades of frantically overworking, never believing I could have what I really wanted in my life and feeling anxious. Overwhelmed and burnt out daily. I finally figured life out. I learned how to feel confident. I reclaimed work life balance and I've created a life I'm totally in love with.

So if you're a high achiever with a team that's struggling with burnout and your mission is to help them grow as humans and retain this badass team this podcast is just for you. I keep it simple. You learn the neuroscience based cognitive tools. I and my students use daily to create that reality.

You're gonna run the risk of being passionately in love with your life and career again, just by listening to this podcast. All right, let's go

Hi everyone. How's everyone doing [00:01:00] today? I hope awesome. So thank you for those of you that have reviewed the podcast that are getting, you know, great value out of it. Thank you so much for your reviews and if you are getting value out of the podcast. Thank you so much for hopping on to apple podcast and giving the podcast a quick review.

Your reviews, totally help others find these tools. And, you know, I'm on a mission to help as many humans as I can break through burnout, love their life, feel magical at home personally and professionally and anything you know, you, we, the collective can do to help our fellow humans, you know, is just pretty awesome.

So this week I'm gonna talk about when climbing the ladder is a terrible idea. So I'm gonna bust through some [00:02:00] myths that, you know, climbing the ladder is like a good thing. That's what we're conditioned to believe. So we are rewarded as a society and praised as humans when we climb the ranks of the ladder. Maybe it's the latter in sports, or our career, or our socioeconomic status, or

clicks of friends in high school, or even now, as adults, these are just few of the areas where there there's always like a hierarchy and a rank and like a ladder to climb. So for example, and like the reason why we. Wanna climb or like one of the reasons why it's so important that we kind of climb the ladder and then get aligned with that next rung or that next pack is we are hardwired as humans to feel a sense of belonging and to feel like we're a part of the pack.

So let's, let's look at [00:03:00] sports. For example, like when I was in high school, I was on the junior varsity, running team for track. And I had this goal and dream to get into varsity. So we're always trying to like climb up to that next ladder, whether it's sports or think about the, think about your career.

You know, I've been in the tech industry for over 20 years and most companies that I've either worked for or worked with, have a promotion, obsessed culture, climb the ladder, climb the ladder. We always gotta be climbing the ladder. You know, then it's like a badge of honor, I'm climbing the ladder. Think about like when you were in high school and maybe you were in, like, for me, I was in a, I was in a clique with some of my best friends, but when I first got to high school I went to high school after I moved to the US from Jamaica.

I had this like, idea that if I got connected with the really super cool, popular, beautiful, you [00:04:00] know, human click in high school, then I would like feel better. So, you know, there's always this idea of like, I wanna get into that next pack of humans, either in sports career, even socioeconomically, um, you know, Maybe you didn't have a lot of like money growing up, but if you go to an Ivy league school, like somehow automatically our society in the us, like, you know, puts you in this position of like, okay, your position's elevated in society because you went to this Ivy league school.

And so, so there's lots of ways across all different parts of our society where this concept of leaving where we are and going up to some other category or rung on the ladder is what we need to always drive and aspire to keep [00:05:00] doing. And I'm gonna bust that myth and tell you that that's just a big fat lie.

And I'm gonna outline when this belief of climbing, the supposed ladder is actually a terrible idea. I'm gonna show you how it's actually at times a really terrible idea. So, you know, I definitely identify as a high achiever. I've been in the tech industry since I was 29. And by the age of 39, I was leading a team of product marketing managers at a really large software company.

And all I could think about every single day, by the way. Yes, I did work eight days a week. all I could think about was my VP's job. I wanted to be VP of product marketing that I had my sites on his job. And yes, inside, every day, because I did not have thought work back then. I felt self doubt [00:06:00] and nervous and anxious every single day.

But in my brain, when I was 31, that promotion was gonna prove that I was smart. It was going to take away the self doubt. It was going to stop the nonstop, anxiety and nervousness that was running through my body everyday. And so many of us high achievers are driven for that promotion and climbing the ladder.

Right. And what our brain and our society has told us to believe is that if we do that, if we climb the corporate ladder, we're gonna have more respect. We're gonna make more money. We're gonna. Have more responsibility and be more important. We're going to feel more confident or life is, or our work's just gonna feel better when we're there than when we're here.

[00:07:00] We're gonna be happier. Life will feel easier. We're gonna have more money to buy more things, which is definitely gonna make us feel better. And what I'm gonna offer to you today is it is a terrible idea. It is a big fat lie. When we think we will feel different when we land that promotion and, you know, land that promotion and make more money, our brain is playing a trick on you.

And as humans, we would rather live in a fantasy of how amazing it is gonna be when we climb that ladder and land in that new place. Humans would rather leave our current experience because the current experience of being a human is half amazing and half shitty and sucky and hard. So our [00:08:00] brains trick is into believing that a job OFY team, that cool click of friends, an Ivy league school.

A fact or circumstance outside of our brain will be the reason we feel better. It will be the reason if I get on the varsity team, we will stop feeling insecure self-doubt and worried all day long.

And so, because of what society's taught us around this big fat myth and what our brains are now conditioned to believe. So many of my students are completely obsessed with that next rung on the ladder. And then what happens is you end up. From that place of stressed and worried and insecurity and self doubt.

So when you feel [00:09:00] insecure, self-doubt and worry, but you think I gotta get that promotion. You end up overworking. You end up not saying no, I can't take on that other deliverable. You end up not having balance between work and life. You end up feeling the need to be on slack or ping all the time. You end up waking up in the morning, probably feeling a little fried and burnt out.

Is that how you're feeling? So when we go for climbing the ladder so we can change how we feel about ourselves so we can get rid of that self-doubt or warrior insecurity. We run the risk of burning ourselves out because we take the same shitty thoughts and feelings with us to the next rung on the proverbial ladder.

So we end up taking the same shitty thoughts and feelings overworking, not having balance in our lives. [00:10:00] Feeling like the light inside of us has totally been the, the light bulb's totally broken. We go to the next rung on the ladder and we take the same shitty thoughts of, I feel insecure. My colleague's a better manager.

There's no way I can get up to speed fast enough on this role, all the shitty thoughts and feelings will go with us to the next rung on the ladder. And I see a lot of burnout happening when we keep taking action so that we can change how we feel and that kind of performing and acting.

Is just not gonna, not gonna make you feel better, not gonna help you as one of my favorite coaches, Carl Lowenthal likes to quote, it's not gonna get it. There's no off ramp from the human experience. So you can't change your circumstances [00:11:00] or facts and get that new, you know, climb the corporate ladder or change cities for where you live or get a new partner.

And. Feel less insecure, less doubt and less worried. It's never gonna happen. Ever. Nothing outside of you like that climbing the ladder will change how you feel inside. And so I love this visual. I love cars and I love driving as many of, as many of of you probably know. So I want you to visualize your favorite highway for me.

That's highway one, since I live in San Francisco, it's the highway that goes along the Pacific coast highway and you're cruising along and this is your life. This is the journey of your, you know, you understanding yourself, your life, your desires, your goals, your dreams, all the things. And shit gets hard.

Shit gets hard all the time. Maybe, [00:12:00] you know, if you're in the tech industry, like another huge priority one lands in your inbox. And you're like, oh my God, there's no way I can do even more work. And all you wanna do is take that exit. You're like, if I take that exit off of highway one, I'm gonna feel better.

And that exit might be, I'm gonna leave this job and go get another job. I'm going to leave this role and get promoted. You know, at my current firm. That exit could look like, you know, I'm gonna, you know, switch romantic partners. That exit could be like, I'm gonna, you know, get a new group of friends.

My current friends, you know, this friend sucks. And so our brain likes to trick us into believing that if we just took the exit and changed our circumstance, like climb the corporate ladder, we're gonna feel better. And it's a lie because the only thing that can change a feeling, the only thing that can [00:13:00] stop you from feeling insecure self-doubt and worried as fuck all day long,

are your beliefs. It's not climbing any of life's ladders, not the corporate ladder, not the JV to Varsity ladder, not the upgrading the romantic partner ladder, none of these ladders. So our practice is to gain a deeper understanding and acceptance, really acceptance of life's ups and downs. So staying on highway one, get a deeper acceptance of life's ups and downs and look at those exit ramps and be like, Nope, not, not gonna hit that exit ramp today.

So I'm a big believer in growth, as you all know, I'm a big believer on understanding. Making a decision and [00:14:00] understanding why I wanna do the things that I wanna do. So absolutely climb the corporate ladder, climb the career corporate ladder. If you are really clear that you wanna do this, like, like why do you want that promotion?

Like write it down and be really honest with yourself. and if your brain is like, well, you know, I'm gonna get closer to the CEO and then I can be liked more or, you know, anything where your brain thinks it's gonna be easier there at that next rung of the ladder than where you are right now. That's a lie.

And that's not a reason to go after that promotion or get that new job. Now, if you are following a desire, To take on this new role and you think it's gonna be fun and you're not in a rush [00:15:00] and you believe that you're already a badass and you already really believe in yourself. And all you wanna do is grow your belief in yourself and learn some new skills.

Let's go. And then I also want you to think about cuz there are a million ways for you to grow. So I want you to make sure that you make a decision and that you choose that you wanna grow and use your career as a lover to grow right, grow your belief inside of you get more kind of calm and loving and accepting of yourself.

You can choose all types of, you know, levers to grow could be your career. it could be a romantic relationship. It could be like a big money goal. Like there's lots of ways. For you just to, you know, it could be just something as simple as like every day, I just wanna feel really grounded and my belief in myself, and I wanna have a calm, serene mind.

I mean, that could [00:16:00] be what you wanna use as your lover to grow, and then I want you to, so, so step one is, start with your why, like, why do you wanna climb that ladder? Step two is what do you choose to think? Maybe a thought is say, you do choose to climb the ladder. Like maybe a thought is I'm perfect for this role.

And I'm excited to go after it. And I know I'm gonna feel some fear as I go after it, but I'm gonna put fear in the backseat and fear's not gonna be driving the car. And then how do you wanna feel? I love. Knowing that I can practice feelings every day. I can create feelings in my body, like the feelings of curiosity and commitment and determination.

And then I'm gonna encourage you to practice your, those that thought and the feelings daily as you, [00:17:00] um, go after climbing the ladder. And then also too, who do you need to stop being to get there? So you've made a decision. You like your reasons why you wanna grow, you've decided how you wanna think and feel.

And then who do you need to stop being to get to that next level in your career to climb that ladder? Maybe it's, you know, I need to stop being someone who keeps indulging in second, guessing myself, or I need to stop being someone who believes everyone outside of me has the answer. And I don't know. So.

I hope this has really helped you see that when you come from this place of fun, love, curiosity, I'm enough, and this is gonna be a really great opportunity to grow and you feel peaceful, calm, curious, confident. [00:18:00] Those are the reasons to climb the corporate ladder. Not. To climb the corporate ladder to change the fact that like, you know, life feels shitty and I hate my job and all these negative things.

Cause you're gonna take all that brain bullshit to the next, rung on the ladder. 

All right next week I'm so excited. One of my students, Melissa, we are going to do a, she'll be featured on the podcast. She's gonna talk about how she broke through burnout in 90 days. And yes, she's a high achiever in the tech industry and it took her 90 days.

I can't wait for you all to hear this all right. Have a beautiful rest of your day. And I love you.

If you're loving what you're learning in the podcast, you have to come and check out the rockstar program. It's my coaching program, where we take these neuroscience based cognitive tools and we use them daily to break through burnout so you can fall [00:19:00] passionately in love with your life and your career again. So join me over at Sarah moody.com/rockstar program. I would love to have you join me. You can also follow me at Sarah L moody on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I can't wait to see you.



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