There are few situations more frustrating than feeling stuck in your career. What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? Are there any strategies you can deploy to gain clarity on moving forward?
6 Steps To Take When You Feel Stuck In Your Career
Here are six strategies worth trying if you’re feeling stuck in your career:
1. Step away from your work.
For starters, stepping away from your 9-5 can be incredibly powerful when you’re experiencing career stagnation. If you’re a workaholic, unplugging from work is particularly important, as the distance can help you reestablish and clarify your identity and values.
Note: As a coach who specializes in working with senior managers and executives in tech, I recognize how difficult it can be to step away from work, but this time away doesn’t have to be lengthy. Depending on how stagnant you’re feeling, it can simply be 15-20 minutes of dedicated time in the mornings or evenings to focus on your career. In some cases, it may make sense to take some PTO or even a sabbatical, so that you can clear your mind and recharge.
2. Pursue your passions and interests.
While you’re at it, you’ll want to be mindful of how you use your time, as I’ve found examining their activities makes a difference in how quickly clients find clarity and a path forward. Oftentimes, clients find it helpful to spend time reigniting their passions and interests. (As a Disney Magic Key Holder, I’m partial to a Disneyland trip).
If you’re up for it, you can also reflect on your goals. Here are a few questions to guide you through the process of recalibrating your direction:
- What are your long-term goals?
- What are your short-term goals?
- How do you spend your time each week?
- Where is there alignment between your goals and how you spend your time? Are there any misalignments?
- Finally, what steps can you take to create more alignment between your goals and how you spend your time?
3. Step outside your comfort zone.
In addition to pursuing your passions and interests, consider how you might step beyond your comfort zone, as doing so can provide you with a new perspective. Stretching yourself can also help you get out of a career funk. The following are a few potential ideas, all inspired by my own coaching clients.
- Join Toastmasters International.
- Enroll in an improv class.
- Become a member at your local YMCA.
- Sign up for a gym membership.
- Join a nonprofit board.
- Travel somewhere you’ve never been.
- Try a new restaurant.
- Do something your inner child would love.
These are just a few of the many ways you can stretch yourself. Get creative and have fun with this one!
4. Identify the root cause of your ‘stuckness.’
After you take some time to decompress, it can be helpful to identify the underlying causes of why you’re feeling stuck at work. A few common reasons for career stagnation include:
- Taking a job solely for the pay.
- Realizing your position doesn’t match what you originally interviewed for.
- Feeling bored with your day-to-day work or routine.
- Being assigned work that doesn’t align with your strengths.
- Dealing with a difficult manager, colleague, or customer.
- Staying in the same job function or industry for too long.
As you clarify the root cause of your career dissatisfaction, be sure to evaluate whether it’s temporary and simply needs your attention and energy, or if it’s truly time to look for a new job or career path.
5. Speak with your managers.
As you work to address the root cause of your career dissatisfaction, you may also wish to involve your manager. While not always the best route, depending on the root cause you identify, you may be able to partner with your boss to explore opportunities to solve your discontentment. Depending on your relationship, you may also find it helpful to seek guidance from your skip-level manager.
Alternatively, you can speak with your human resources department, as sometimes switching managers or departments can resolve the situation. If you have any mentors or sponsors, also consider speaking with them about your options. And if you don’t have any, conducting informational interviews can help you find some.
6. Invest in a career coach.
Finally, you may find it beneficial to speak with a career coach, as they can provide you with guidance and clarity in your career. While friends and family can be helpful when navigating career transitions, they often also come with baggage and unsolicited advice. Alternatively, a coach can provide you with an objective lens as you evaluate your career options and next steps. You’ve got this!