“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the lives.”
The classic soap opera Days of Our Lives has it right when it comes to face slapping, jaw dropping, backstabbing drama. Does this sound like a regular day at work? Your job can sometimes make your days feel like you’ve involuntarily stepped into an episode of a soap opera (or the Twilight Zone).
Yet, despite the daily drama, many professionals stay in situations where they’re not happy. I know this from Facebook feeds filled with “I hate my job” rants (yes, just as subtle), people on the train who look like extras from The Walking Dead, and casual conversations that make you wish you never asked “How are you?”.
The real problem with being stuck in your career is that you can easily become “one of them”. You know, the people you never identified with when you were on top of your game.
The truth is that even the best of us have had a time when we were stagnant in our careers (You may be in this phase right now). It can feel like you’re drowning and want to grab for a life jacket, but the negative energy pulling you down is stronger than the energy needed to pull yourself up.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein
Your current situation is not going to change if you’re not doing anything different to change it. If ever there is a time to start moving forward in your career it’s at the very moment you realize you’re stuck. And if that’s not enough motivation, think of the frown lines and premature aging that’s accumulating each day you spend being unhappy.
With that being said, let’s look at how you can stop going insane and move forward in your career.
Ask For Help
This sounds simple enough, but it’s often the last resort for many. Chances are you are surrounded by people in your life with a variety of experiences. Talk to them. Ask for their feedback. It’s easy to take for granted the knowledge and resources the people closest to you may have. But I bet many would be glad to help you if you gave them the opportunity or asked for advice.
Another way to get help is by joining a mastermind or networking group or hiring someone who has the expertise to get you back on track. These are all great ways to explore new approaches to your challenges.
LinkedIn is also a great platform that can be used to get help by joining groups and participating in discussions. There are many industry-specific groups that are hubs for industry-specific professionals just like you. Don’t let your pride prevent you from getting back on your feet sooner. You can always get help if you’re open to receiving it.
Follow-up on Opportunities
Desire without action does not get results. It’s like watching an exercise video from the couch—it’s a start, but it won’t get you in shape. It may sound like a given, but one of the biggest contributors to staying stuck in your career is the lack of follow-though.
Sometimes you may know exactly what you need to do, but just aren’t doing it. Don’t let good advice or opportunities fall through the cracks because you put it on the back burner.
If someone gives you a referral for a mentor or professional group, check them out. If there’s a course you need to register for by a certain date, sign up. If your colleague refers you for a job, update your resume and send it over as soon as possible.
You get my point?
Opportunities are not like lost and found items waiting to be claimed. You have to pounce on them like the last two red velvet cupcakes on the bakery shelf.
The way to fix a stalled career is to force yourself to move outside of your comfort zone. Follow each lead and you will have more doors to walk through.
Get Your Goals In Order
The reality is this: There’s no one way to reach your career goals. There will never be a perfect time to switch jobs, go back to school, or take on a new certification.
You really just have to set your mind to getting it done.
Give yourself deadlines and stick to them, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. It’s more important to use your readiness for change as the motivation to keep trying.
There’s an analogy that goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It’s basically saying that the best way to tackle a large task or goal is to break your goals down into manageable pieces.
I talk more in depth about goal setting at the beginning of each year since it’s when people feel the most ambitious. But really, any time is the best time to start.
As you move along, it’s expected that timelines or plans may change. That’s okay. Just continue to take little steps each day towards getting your career groove back.
You spend too much time at work to be unhappy. You might as well set a plan to work towards finding your happy place again—whatever that may look like for you.
Remember, all things are possible if you have a plan and realistically tackle each objective (“winging it” or constantly complaining won’t get you far). Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and see all the places you’ll go.
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