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How To Know If You Are Stuck in Your Career

 

I keep reading statistics and hearing people say that the majority of people are not happy in their job.

You may see the same stats pop up from time to time. I find that alarming and sad because we generally spend more time at work than in any other one activity, so surely it would be great to enjoy it.

A lot us still hold what are now outdated ideas. We picked them up from our parents and they from theirs.

Things like “you’re not supposed to enjoy work” and “It’s work. It’s supposed to be hard”.

We have a choice.

We can either perpetuate those beliefs or make a new choice to enjoy work more, either in our current role and organisation, or by changing job or even career.

Just take a moment to think what you believe that might be stopping you getting the most from your working life.

How do you even know if you’re stuck?

My clients often come out with phrases such as “I feel like I’m in a comfortable rut”, “I feel anxious on a Sunday night before the week even starts”. I even hear people say things like “I just hate my job”. Sometimes it just comes out as “I don’t hate my job, I just think there must be more than this”.

20 years ago when I went through redundancy, it was the “comfortable rut” phrase that I remember using. The work was fine, the people were nice, the pay was good. I’d been looked after well by the company a couple of years earlier when I’d experienced what we now label mental health issues (I think they called it anxiety or stress at the time). The question for you is....

Can you connect with being in a "comfortable rut"?

Like so many people do, I would have carried on unless redundancy had forced me to consciously think about my future. Yes, I would probably still be producing computer systems if that hadn’t happened, and yes, I would have missed out on my perfect career. I wouldn’t necessarily have hated work, but there wouldn’t be any joy in my 9 to 5.

Don’t wait for something else to force you, take time to notice for yourself now.

The first thing to do is to notice what you are saying to yourself or others about your career.

If you’re consistently saying or thinking any of the above, or similar, it’s definitely time to at least explore doing something about it.

Next, notice how you feel about work.

Not in the moment when something specific goes wrong, but generally, over time. Do you often feel anxious or negative about work or dread going in? If you think this might be you, take a moment to refer back to my earlier blog and complete the little exercise there:

"What To Do If You Don't Love Your Job" 

 

Think about when you are at work.

  • Are the actions you are completing (mostly) calling in the skills and qualities that you like using?

  • Do you feel alive and enthusiastic?

  • Do you enjoy the people you work with and the environment you work in?

If your answers to any of these are other than a 100% positive, yes, it’s time for you to take action.

That something may just be some minor tweaks so that you enjoy your current job, OR it might be time to consider that career change.

There’s a great article by Frances Bridges Forbes which will add even more value to you. You can see it here: 4 Signs You Need to Change Careers.

How do you get unstuck?

There is a really simple, but in some ways, unhelpful answer to this:

Do Something About It.

That links to one of my favourite Mindsets for Success:

"I notice what I am getting and if it isn’t what I want, I do something different.”

Have you ever heard that saying....

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”?

It is exactly what that mindset is addressing.

If you’re unhappy about a situation, in this case work, and you carry on doing the same things, you’re going to carry on getting the same unhappy results. If you ask me, that’s mad!

That’s really just the theory though, and I’m sure that what you’d like is some practical and straight forward ways to start getting unstuck.

So, here are two practical steps (and then five more.)

Step 1: You don’t have to have a plan right now

So many people I work with have put off exploring a career change until things get desperate by telling themselves they don’t know where to start.

Sometimes, the ONLY plan you need is to know you want something different. In my redundancy situation, I only knew two things when I found out my job was being made redundant:

That I didn’t want to do computer systems any more, and that whatever I did next, it had to be something I was passionate about.

That was it! No other ideas whatsoever.

I’ll never forget a lady I worked with a few years ago. She was in her late 30s, in a Management Position in a procurement function in the Oil and Gas Industry, and supporting her family. When I first met her and we spoke about what she wanted to do next, her response was “I just want to be happy”.

As we worked together and she gained the skills and understanding to identify options and explore them, and go to the job market, this phrase was the compass that helped her choose a role that excited her.

So, how do you want to be in your career right now? Is it passionate? Is it fulfilled? Or something else? Write it down.

Step 2: Get your mindset right

I’ve already mentioned one of my favouring mindsets, and what I want to talk about here goes a bit deeper than even Mindsets for Success.

Is about WHO you are.

You see, we tend to define ourselves by our job titles. If you ask someone what they do, they don’t say “I work as an IT professional” or “I work as Director in HR”.

They say, “I’m an IT professional” or “I’m an HR Director”.

I AM! A statement of identity.

Unfortunately for our purposes, we and others say this so often that subconsciously at least, we start to think that this is not just what we do, but who we are and all that we are.

AND IT’S JUST NOT TRUE.

You may be an IT Professional or and HR Director in terms of what you do to earn money. It isn’t who you are, it’s one of the ways in which you express who you are;

How you use your skills, talents, qualities and genius to make an impact and a difference.

Define yourself by your job title and you limit your future. Define yourself by your values and contributions and the world opens up.

Five BONUS steps:

In my blog Five Top Tips To Start Your Career Change I outlined five very practical ways for you to start exploring whether a career change is right for you, so do take time to hop across there and check them out:

Five Top Tips To Start Your Career Change

Finally, remember that your career is what pays for your house, your car, your gym membership, your dentist, your haircuts, plumbers, lawyers, electricians, and other professionals that make your life good.

So, when you want help with your career, remember to go to a properly qualified career professional.

Obviously, being one of those, I am happy to talk with you and you can book a discovery session over on the resources page:

FREE Discovery Session

If you want to check out some other good career professionals, search the UK Register of Career Development Professionals:

The Career Development Institute.

CDI is the UK’s professional body for Career Development Professionals.

After all, you wouldn’t use an unqualified dentist … or would you?

 

Over to you

Do you feel in a comfortable rut?

Anxious on a Sunday night before the week even starts?

Ponder whether there must be more than your current situation?

I would love to hear from you, comment below.

 

Wishing you success and enjoyment.

Dave

 

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