We talk with people every day who are feeling stuck in their careers. They’re disappointed because something isn’t working the way they wanted it to. Maybe they feel they’ve been waiting too long for their next promotion. Or they have a boss who doesn’t support them. Or they have challenging relationships with their colleagues. Or there’s some kind of tension on their teams that’s uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, they’re feeling unhappy – or just “meh” – in their current jobs. It seems like it might be time to move on, but they’re not really sure how.
We’ve noticed a couple of patterns that people go into, in the face of that, that tend to keep them stuck. We’re sharing them with you today in case they help you identify your own pattern, so you can move through it and take your career to the next level. Watch the video below or the blog post that follows to learn more.
The Problem with Stuckness
The problem with these patterns (which we’ll talk about in a moment) is that they both keep you from getting to where you want to go in your career. They keep you from taking effective action to move up or move on. They keep you from landing your next role.
When it becomes really problematic is when the sense of feeling stuck in your career bleeds over into other aspects of your life. You aren’t where you want to be in your career, so you put off other decisions. You can’t decide whether to move house or renovate, because you don’t know if you’ll even still be in the same city. You put off buying a car or updating your wardrobe, because you don’t know if you’ll be working from home or commuting.
What’s insidious is that it’s easy to feel comfortable with your current reality, even if you don’t like it very much. You’re used to the job that isn’t really what you want. You tell yourself it’s not that bad. You’re used to living in the rundown kitchen that you can’t decide about renovating. You’re used to the car that you’ve had for a while. Most of the time, you may not even actually feel stuck. You just feel okay – not great, but okay.
You’re living a life of “meh.”
The thing is that “meh” doesn’t require much risk. Deciding to put a stake in the ground and going for what you want in your career does. There’s a risk that it won’t happen. What if I go for it, and I don’t get what I want? What if I’m heartbroken by that? And there’s also a risk that you will get what you want. What if I’m not ready? Or what if I’m not good at it?
Staying in “meh” can feel much safer. You haven’t set yourself up to make a leap. You haven’t stepped out onto that platform.
I think that’s the deeper reason that people stay stuck. The patterns we see are just different manifestations of the same underlying anxiety about moving forward.
The Two Versions of Stuck
The first is getting all caught up in your head, swirling through questions like, “Should I move up in my current organization or go somewhere else?” “Do I want to stay in my field, or try something else?” “If I were to try something else what would that even be?” In this version of stuck, the action is all mental – question after question, in an endless internal debate that keeps you from taking action. There’s nothing wrong with asking these questions but staying in your head isn’t likely to generate any answers.
The second is getting into motion, but in a really scattershot way. You start researching a zillion different options for your career. You throw your resume out there to as many openings as you can that sound vaguely interesting. You take every interview that comes your way. You take a lot of action, but there’s no real strategy to it, so it’s not very effective. That’s the worst part. Because when you put time and energy into applying for jobs and nothing comes of it, you feel bad. You get discouraged and start to think that “meh” is all that’s available to you.
How a Coach Can Help
That’s where having a coach can be really useful. We work with our clients to help them move out of their comfort zone. We give them strategies for getting out of their heads, and the endless loop of questions and hesitation. We help them map out a plan and get into motion to discover what they want, in an effective way. With a clear strategy, their actions are more likely to result in new opportunities – whether those are promotions in their current company or new jobs elsewhere.
Along the way, we support them to manage the natural anxiety that arises whenever we take a risk. There are ups and downs in every career. We help our clients learn how to weather those, without getting too discouraged. They build a performance mindset that supports resilience and grit, which is ultimately what moves them forward.
It’s such a joy to watch our clients get out of their heads, create an effective strategy and get into motion. They find out what they really want. And then they go for it. Effectively. They land promotions and new jobs. And their lives are no longer stuck in “meh.”
If you recognize these patterns in yourself, we’d love to help you get unstuck. Schedule a call with our team today, and let us help you get into action, strategically, so you can take your career to the next level.