According to a study by Oracle, more than 75% of people feel “stuck” personally and professionally. There are a wide variety of reasons you might feel stuck in your career. Maybe you’ve worked in the technology industry for years when you don’t even have a passion for it. Or you’ve remained at the same company for decades because the pay and benefits are great, yet the work doesn’t energize you. As time goes on, those “golden handcuffs” slowly tighten. You may even feel like something is missing or holding you back from having greater satisfaction. If you’ve been struggling with the feeling of being stuck in your career for a while, it’s a sign that it’s time to do something about it.
Yet, change is always difficult, even if it’s for the better. That’s because humans don’t like uncertainty. We’re hardwired for survival and prefer to know what’s coming next. Over time, too much uncertainty causes anxiety and eventually turns into full-blown fear. But uncertainty can be redefined to work in your favor. As Eckhart Tolle wrote in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, “If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”
You need to make a critical decision. Do you want to settle for the life you have now or take action to create the life you deserve? If you’re ready to break free, here are 10 ways to stop feeling stuck in your career.
Take a step back
One of the first things you should do is determine why you feel stuck in your career. Is it because you always seem to be passed over for a promotion? Or maybe your salary and benefits are so attractive that you find it hard to leave—even though you don’t feel challenged. Whatever the case, do some soul-searching, so you understand what is potentially lacking in your life.
Get clear on your values
People are happier when their value system aligns with their careers. In fact, job satisfaction is determined more by how your values align with your work environment than by any other factor. Therefore, it is important to analyze your work values to clarify your priorities.
Open your mind
Most people start from where they are and think, what can I do with the skills I have? That line of thinking only gives you a narrow view. Instead, open your mind to the possibilities. Focus on your transferrable skills. Also, don’t start from where you are. Start from where you want to be. Where do you see yourself? Is there a profession you’ve been longing to try for years? What are the things that you are good at and that you enjoy? That’s the sweet spot.
Conduct a visioning exercise
When you feel stuck in your career, it helps to envision what you’d like your life to look like. Take at least 30 minutes to complete this exercise in a quiet space. Imagine yourself blissfully happy at the age of 90, looking back over your ideal career. What does it look like and what have you achieved? Write down as much detail as you can. This exercise will help you connect with yourself and what you truly want.
Many of us label experiences as “failures” instead of “stepping stones.” Yet, what you perceive to be failures in the moment, could lead you to your greatest success. Think of it as a detour in your journey rather than a roadblock.
Ask for help
No one gets through a transitional period without support. This is the time to lean into your significant other, friends, family, colleagues and mentors. You might also consider hiring a career coach who can provide an unbiased professional perspective.
Embrace planned serendipity
When you feel stuck, chances are you’ve been involved in the same activity for a while. It’s time to change things up. Planned serendipity is a practical skill. Push yourself to try new things. Take up a new hobby. Enroll in that photography class you’ve been interested in. Put yourself in unfamiliar situations to engage with previously unknown individuals and ideas. That way, you give new people and information the chance to enter your life.
Get out there
Apart from getting help and embracing new experiences, just get out there! Feeling stuck means, you’re not inspired to change. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Whom you associate with influences your outlook. For example, if you spend time with “energy vampires,” you’ll experience low energy. On the other hand, if you decide to engage with people whom you want to emulate, you’ll feel much more inspired. Plus, you’ll be expanding your network at the same time.
Start small with micro habits
Micro habits are small actions you can take daily to see significant results. It’s a better way to tackle big goals because you’ll be less likely to get discouraged. For example, if you want to expand your network, decide to reach out to 10 people each day. Then over time, increase that number to 20 people daily. Pretty soon, it will become part of your routine.
Don’t give up
Getting unstuck requires patience and intention. It’s something that is done little by little. Just know that it’s a gradual process. The most important thing is not to give up.
Let’s face it. Change is the only thing we can truly count on. By embracing the unknown, you’ll open the door to a whole new realm of possibilities.