We can all get stuck at some point in our careers. I started to feel this way when I was in a job that wasn’t a good fit for me but didn’t know how to get out of it. I knew that I wanted and needed something to change but wasn’t sure how to make change happen. It seemed overwhelming, terrifying, and risky. Now I have a career largely centred around helping others get unstuck. So, I’ve seen and heard everything at this point and there are many reasons why people feel this way.
Why are you feeling stuck? Do any of these sound familiar?
For years, you have been striving. You’ve climbed the corporate ladder but now aren’t sure why or what your motivation is for doing so.
You were never actually interested in your job, you took it for the money, or the benefits or the “security” or because others encouraged you to.
You have changed as a person. This might be due to getting older, getting divorced or sick, becoming a parent, getting burned-out, etc.).
You are in a job that doesn’t give you any joy, but you are afraid to leave it.
You discovered that your job is not a match for your talents or interests.
You have lost touch with who you are and you simply do not know what you want anymore.
You feel overwhelmed by the endless possibilities you see around yourself.
You don’t know what else is out there or what your options are.
You know what you want, but you are afraid to admit it to yourself or others.
You have lost your job or have had to give it up for reasons not in your control.
You have lost your confidence.
…. Something else.
So, what are you supposed to do now? How do you get unstuck?
Seven steps to getting unstuck
Please know you are not alone. I got myself unstuck and I have been helping others do it for nearly 20 years. There is hope. Here are seven steps that you can follow to help you get unstuck:
Step 1: Acceptance
Admit that you’re stuck. That’s it. Every change starts with admitting and accepting the status quo.
Step 2: Clarity
Answer this: “What is the main reason I feel stuck?” Is it on the above-mentioned list? Your first step is gaining some clarity about your reason for being stuck.
Step 3: Reach out to someone supportive
Talk to someone. When we feel stuck, we are often stuck in our own head. We think that by overthinking and ruminating we will solve whatever problem we think we have. It doesn’t work and we lose perspective. Talking to others can give you a new perspective. Find someone who is supportive and a good listener and share how you are feeling with them. Avoid talking to people you know might be overly judgemental or not supportive. They will make you feel worse.
Step 4: Ask a professional for help
If your immediate friends or family are not able to help, turn to a professional. Sometimes working with a counsellor or a coach can be helpful. A client recently told me this: “My family has my best interests at heart but they also feel they know what’s best for me and are always trying to influence my decisions. I need to learn to trust myself. Working with a career counsellor helped me get to the core of what I really wanted and needed.”
Step 5: Identify your values
Identifying your values will tell you a lot about yourself and why you might be feeling stuck. There are a number of career assessments that will help you with this and help you to assess other important areas such as your interests and personality. I offer some “Do It Yourself” Career Assessment options here.
Step 6: Reframe and Take Ownership
Remove the word “but” from your vocabulary. Try and think of your current stuck feeling as a gift that is propelling you to take some action to change your situation. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and try new things. Feeling stuck is usually a sign that you are ready to grow. Growth can be painful but once you come out the other side you’ll be better off in so many ways. What is a small step or action you can take today that feels right?
Step 7: Understand feeling stuck sometimes is normal.
Try to put away the “shoulds”. Please do not compare where you are at with where it seems like other people are. Often when we feel stuck, it seems like everybody has their life figured out but us. I promise you, that is not true. Most people who feel stuck look perfectly put together on the outside. We all feel stuck sometimes. It is normal and so are you.