In today’s work environment, you must pay attention and adapt quickly. When all the signals point to action, the choice is yours.
You can stand back and let others make career decisions for you, or you can stand up and take control of your career.
What we mean by ‘stuck’
We’ve all felt stuck at some point in our work life. Stuck around making a career change, addressing a performance problem, dealing with a conflict with a co-worker, asking for a raise, or requesting new responsibilities.
Stuck in a general sense, where you know you should be doing something but you’re unsure of what to do. Or stuck in a specific sense, knowing what you need to do but blocked, somehow, from proceeding.
The danger lies in inaction. We often ignore the signals that something is not right, and just hope the situation will miraculously improve on its own.
What Keeps You Stuck?
There are many reasons for choosing inaction. Perhaps your situation is bearable. Not too uncomfortable to force you to action.
Perhaps you think change is not possible, that you just don’t have what it takes to overcome the situation.
You might be fearful of failure, change, or the unknown. Or maybe you are surrounded by others who reinforce you staying where you are.
What are the Signs?
- Lack of passion, boredom
- Absence of challenge and growth
- Stress, lack of motivation, anxiety
- Drastic actions in other parts of your life
- Focus on distractions
- Constant internal “should” voice
Getting Unstuck: Three Necessary Components
Motivation and Clarity of Purpose. You’ve got to know what it is you want and you have to really want it. Without true motivation, you’ll always find reasons for inaction.
Belief in Your Ability. People often avoid opportunities, and remain stuck, out of a gut level fear that they don’t have what it takes to change. You need an accurate assessment of your own ability to ‘do’ what needs to be done. And you have to believe in your abilities.
Expected Outcomes. People are often paralyzed by some unspoken fear that they don’t want to face. What if you fail? What if it doesn’t work? You’ve got to get all those fears to the surface, and plan for the best and the worst.
Now What? Five Steps towards Moving Forward
- Pay Attention. Listen to your head AND your instincts. Why are you feeling stuck? What has changed? Is it you, or is it the environment? Pay special attention to your own interests and values. Is something out of alignment?
- Clarify your actual goal. What is it that you’d like to change? Describe the situation as it is today, and how it would look if you got what you wanted. What steps do you need to take?
- Do a reality check. Do you have a sense of urgency? Are things actually okay now, or is there a real need for movement? How much do you actually want it? What might happen if you do nothing?
- Believe in yourself. Do you have the ability to do what needs to be done? Get feedback from someone you trust. Take the time to analyze what you’ve got to do and get help in developing a game plan. If there are gaps in your abilities, take steps towards building your skills.
- Put your fears on the table. Evaluate all possible outcomes. Identify and analyze the best and worst scenarios. Prepare strategies to prevent and/or deal with possible barriers and negative outcomes.
- Get a mentor or coach. Find someone to bounce ideas off of, to strategize with, and keep you accountable for doing what is necessary to get you moving forward.
The choice is yours. You can stand back and let others make career decisions for you, or you can stand up and take control of your own career.