It’s so sad how many people are just “drifting” in their careers. 

A recent article by Adam Grant brought the concept of “languishing” back into popular culture. Curious, I watched his TED talk on the subject. Languishing, as Grant describes it, is the embodiment of “meh.” You’re not particularly depressed, or filled with despair, but everything is a little gray. It’s the experience of going through the motions without much joy or pleasure – being low energy, drifting.  

I think languishing can be one of the most destructive experiences in your career – possibly even worse than burnout. 

Here’s why: 

When someone is languishing, things aren’t so bad. They’re okay. Fine. Meh. 

And that means, they can drift along that way for a very long time without doing anything about it.  

That’s why people writing about organizational change talk about finding the “burning platform” – the pain that will make change worthwhile. When we know something is going to destroy us, we act. When things are “okay” we’re not as likely to make a leap. We stay put, stuck in a rut, going along. It’s not bad – but it’s not good, either. There’s no forward motion, no joy, no motivation. 

If you’ve gone 3 – 5 years without a promotion or a significant new challenge at work, it’s time to ask yourself if you’re languishing. And if your honest answer is “yes,” then it’s time to do something about that. 

Grant says that the cure for languishing is to find a sense of flow. He says there are 3 key elements to flow:  

1.) the pursuit of mastery,  

2.) mindfulness and  

3.) the sense that you matter.  

Getting into your flow state is the key to finding energy again at work. Whether that’s in your current organization or somewhere else. 

In my language these three components translate into performance, purpose, and presence: 

Performance – Where do you want to build a sense of mastery in your career and what roles or opportunities could help you do that? What do you want to learn? How do you want to grow?  

Presence – Presence or mindfulness is about being in the moment, fully connected to yourself and whatever is happening around you, in an attuned way.  

Purpose – Purpose is about knowing how your work contributes to the bigger picture and why it matters. Whatever role you’re in, or whatever organization you might be working for, what is the contribution you want to make? Where could you be making a difference? 

I work with my clients on each of these key pieces, so that they can find their flow again.  

As a result, they are re-energized. They wake up excited to go to work every day, knowing they’ll do work they love.  

They take on new challenges and feel proud of their accomplishments. In short, they fall in love with their careers again.  

And they do it without the push and hustle of working 50-60 hours per week. 

I believe everyone deserves to live life in technicolor – in flow – not in the gray zone of “meh.”  

If you’re ready to stop languishing and start living again, let’s talk. You can book a call with me here. Let’s get you out of “meh” and into motion again.

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