Stuck. By definition means, unable to move, or set in a particular position, place, or way of thinking. We all know that feeling. That unmotivated, toxic, negative space where we feel drained as we figuratively run in place. We are innately built to grow and evolve, as a result, feeling STUCK serves as a sign that it’s time for a change.

Through the course of your career, you’ll probably feel stuck about a dozen times. Each time, your work and career path will evolve in some way, shape, or form. Stuck is a tricky feeling because the less you act on it, the more intense it grows to be. So you’re probably wondering what to do about it. I bet the question rushing through your mind is, how do you get unstuck in your career?
 

Figure out why you feel stuck

Ask yourself these questions and then think about it, even more, the object of this exercise is to get to the root of it. Are you an internal processor? Write this out. External/verbal processor? Talk this out with a trusted friend or mentor.

  • Is there a lack of growth opportunities?
  • Is your work challenging you?
  • Are you well supported?
  • Is this work connected to your purpose?
  • Do you thrive in this work culture?
  • Are you taking advantage of your strengths?
  • A lot of times stuck happens in one area of life and then bleeds into all the other categories. Lean into what you’re feeling with direct questions so you can identify and solve the root issue. For instance, if you’re actually dreaming about a move to another state but choose to change your job because it feels like less of a risk, you’re missing the point, and STUCK will follow you!
    Now bring that altogether by asking: What am I missing from my current work situation?
     

     

    Frame Your Mind

    Now, this is pretty obvious, unstuck would be to move. Are you swinging back and forth between leaving and staying? Are you waiting for the perfect opportunity before you decide to move? Are you in your own way? Are you held by back fear?

    Empower yourself to see that there is something you can do. It might not be perfect or your mind’s ideal situation, but there comes a point where you have to decide if the risk is worth staying or leaving, and what that could do to your current work situation or relationships.

    I didn’t realize this until I met with many more clients, but the solution to stuck isn’t always to leave your current job. Sometimes, it can be a conversation with your boss about increasing your responsibilities or wages. Sometimes, it’s a matter of re-igniting your excitement for your work by networking with someone who is more advanced in your career path.
     

    Map Your Moves

    Now that you have dissected why you’re feeling stuck, solutions to this should come a little more organically. You might find that you’ll fall under two different categories.

    1. Stay and move to make it better
    2. Leave and move to find better. Let’s break this down.
     

     

    Stay, Make It Better

    If you’re realizing that this company has more to offer and you’re energized about staying, change what is in your control.

  • Re-inspire yourself by attending a conference. Conferences are a great way to connect with like-minded individuals who are likely to be energized by the same work you are. This is a great opportunity to learn more about advances in your career field and generate ideas with others in different organizations.
  • Connect with and become friends with people who don’t work directly with you. Sometimes it is nice to talk to others about things other than work, and easier to feel a part of the bigger company when you have a circle broader than your direct team members.
  • Talk to your boss. Sometimes our needs aren’t met at work, but they really could be if we vocalized them. It’s not always the case, but we recommend giving leadership a chance to show up for you. If you’re looking for more challenging work or wanting more leadership responsibilities, see how much of that you can have already. If you have always wanted to work remotely, ask. If there is nothing your boss can do, revisit those questions above and see if that reinforces your stuck.
  • Pursue a side hustle. It might be unrealistic, the expectations we have for just one job to have all the elements we want. Instead of trying to change your current job to fit what you’re missing, create a passion project or side hustle that encompasses that. For instance, I’ve had a job that didn’t draw out the level of creativity and ingenuity that I would appreciate. I found the perfect side hustle that allowed space for that.
  • Revamp your space. Space is so much more important than we realize when it comes to our mental states. Has your office looked the same in the last 5 years? Change it up. Re-imagine new configurations and try them out. Creating a new space might be the catalyst for even more new ideas or re-charge you to find new ways to achieve even better work results.
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    Leave, Find Better

    Sometimes, stuck is a signal for, let’s go. You’ve been in the same work for a while and stifled for far too long. It’s time to GO. Here are some steps to follow to unstuck out of this!

  • List the things you like about your current job. Chances are, there are things about your job you probably still like, we want to make sure your new opportunity also has these elements. Think about what you would grieve when you leave your current job.
  • Think of what you’re missing. The whole point is to be in a better place than you were before. So, note the reason why you’re feeling stuck, is there a lack of growth? Is it not what you want to do? Write what kind of work you are looking for, write out what this new job will have that your current doesn’t.
  • Network. Start connecting with people. Connection is key and job searches thrive on relationships. Have many conversations about work, with people who respect and admire, and those who are doing really cool jobs you would like.
  • Work with a career coach. It’s 2019. The workforce and career paths look more different than they ever have. We are writing new rules, charting new paths, it’s not as intuitive as it was when someone would work in the same unfulfilling job for 30+ years. Don’t feel like you have to do this stuff alone! Coaches are great accountability partners and sounding boards to help cheer you on in this endeavor.
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    It doesn’t always require drastic movements for the tension that STUCK brings to start to fade. Often times, taking smaller steps to get the ball rolling can help shift what you’re feeling and create momentum as you go. The key in all of this is to know what is in your control and what steps you want to take because of that.

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    Ann Vu

    Ann Vu

    Ann is a career expert with a particular emphasis on the job search process. She has helped countless clients find and land jobs they love. Read more about Ann here.