Do you remember Peter Pan? You know the boy who doesn’t grow up. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay a child forever? Life was easy as a child, less responsibility, more fun and way fewer worries to consume our days with.
But, as an adult there comes a time when you have to grow up. At some point, you need to take on adult responsibilities and shift your priorities. Unfortunately, we are not surrounded in the magic that can keep us children forever. Growing up and shifting priorities is not a smooth transition for everyone. Some adults truly struggle with this change, which is why the term “Peter Pan Syndrome” was coined by psychologists.
What are some of the characteristics of Peter Pan Syndrome?
1.) Unwillingness to work hard when you aren’t motivated. We all know how hard it can be to get things done when you don’t feel like doing something, but unfortunately being an adult sometimes means doing things you don’t want to do.
2.) Dabbling in many different things. Rather than focusing your time on honing one skill, a person who has Peter Pan Syndrome might spend their time trying a bunch of different things because they can’t pinpoint the one skill they want to master.
3.) Aversion to networking. Meeting successful people in your career field of choice can be hard, yet necessary to find a job and/or move up in a position. You have to put yourself out there, talk and learn from others.
4.) Focusing on the long shot. We are all told to dream big, but at some point, you might need to shift gears from trying to make it big as a musician or a film star and instead focus on a more realistic area of interest. Maybe instead of trying to be a multi-billionaire rockstar, you become a music teacher. Or instead of focusing all your energy into being a successful actor, teach a theatre class.
5.) Abusing alcohol and drugs. These types of behaviors while often linked to addiction or other mental health conditions, can make finding and keeping a successful job difficult. It can make adulting that much harder to do.
6.) Blaming your failure on an external source. Often those having difficulty growing up don’t want to accept that they aren’t successful in their careers because they aren’t motivated to try, and instead want to blame it on something their parents, spouse, or former employer did/said. The truth of the matter is some people have come from war, hunger, poverty, abuse, etc. and have come out successful. It is all about finding that motivation to go after the life you want.
If you identify with one or more of these characteristics it might be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health professional, life coach, or career counselor who can help to guide you on the path for success. The first thing you have to do is realize that to be successful in a career you will need to grow up, as hard as that is, and if you are struggling with that reality there are tools to help you. Anyone can succeed in life and career, it will just take some willingness to make changes.