As a coach, it is relatively common to be contacted by individuals who feel stuck. Often, these people are mid-late career and struggle in their current position.
Their challenges often include, but are not limited to:
- Long, grueling workdays
- Insufficient pay
- Lack of passion for their work
- Managers who mistreat them
- Working in industries, such as tight-knit community businesses, in which “everyone knows everyone”, limiting their ability to make lateral career moves
Ironically, when we unpack their situations and identify pathways forward, they are often unprepared or unwilling to take the kind of action necessary to break free.
Without question, folks in such situations can feel hopeless. Some say they have tried everything and don’t know what else to do. Others lack the energy, confidence and/or resources to take the needed actions, such as getting new training, negotiating for a better situation, or interviewing elsewhere.
When you’re in a rut for long enough, even seemingly simple acts that can propel you forward can feel out of reach.
But all is not lost. If you’re in such a situation, you can emerge successfully and begin a new, more promising chapter.
Here are some strategies that I use to help clients get their mojo back and advance their careers:
- Envision yourself breaking through – Ask yourself this: Suppose that overnight, while you are asleep, a miracle occurs, and you are no longer stuck. Instead, you have achieved your goal and then some! When you wake up in the morning, everything is exactly how you want it. What do you notice is different? What is the first thing you see?
- Imagine the alternative – Think about what life and work will be like if you remain stuck. Make the pictures as vivid as possible and add strong emotion. Use the picture of remaining stuck indefinitely to push you forward.
- Ignore, or, better yet, drive back your inner critic – Often, we can be our own worst enemies. We can take the necessary action, but we talk ourselves into thinking that we can’t. When this happens, be willing to push back and engage in some positive self-talk. Examples include:
- “You CAN do this!”
- “You have all of these gifts. (Go ahead and list them.) They were given to you for a reason.”
- “Others who are no more capable been in situations like this before and have come through.”
- Be grateful – This may seem counter-intuitive when the world around you looks bleak. But, finding the good in your life will give you a pick-me-up and raise your energy level and general positivity, Remember, to change your situation you’re likely going to need to convince others that you are a good fit for them or a solid resource for them to refer.
- Set small, actionable goals – For goals to be effective in moving us forward, they need to be expressed in actionable terms that will focus us on the steps that will be needed to meet our goals and help us more easily measure progress. In this case, the goals should be small and super doable. The key is gaining positive momentum that builds confidence over time. Click here for more about goals and goal setting.
- Just get started – Regardless of circumstance, commit to get started. And start with the greatest impact. Ask yourself: Which one step can I take right now that will have the greatest positive impact in moving you forward?
- Find a mentor who is one chapter ahead of you – When you don’t know what to do next to, find someone who does. Ideally, this should be someone who just walked a mile in your shoes. They will not only be current in their thinking and approaches but will likely be more willing to share their experiences and help you grow more quickly than you could do alone.
- Get a coach – Coaches are trained to ask penetrating, elucidating questions that push aside the clutter and clear a pathway forward. Great coaches help you overcome gremlins and limiting beliefs and forge ahead with greater confidence.
- Be prepared to learn – Sometimes, the difference between staying put and moving forward is the ability and willingness to learn new information or skills. Don’t assume that yesterday’s knowledge can always solve today’s problems. Figure out where your gaps are and hit the books, video, course, etc.