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5 Things to Notice When You’re Stuck in Your Career

“I’m stuck in my job!”

 

I lost count of how many times I heard this from clients, friends and colleagues. I would admit that at some point, I also said this myself. It was probably during one of those times when I’ve already invested so much in a project that I feel like it’s too late to quit and I just must ride it out until It’s done. And then I end up cranky and frustrated with myself (or the job!).

 

Most of the time though, when we say that we’re stuck in our jobs or careers, we also equate it to saying that we have no choice. The truth is, we always do have a choice, and perhaps what we chose is to stay.  

 

So maybe the question we need to ask is, what’s making you stay? 

 

In a recent LinkedIn poll  I conducted, I asked “What’s stopping you from reinventing your career?” 40% said that it’s because of limited opportunities, 35% because of fear of judgment or failure, 20% due to lack of resources, and 5% due to other reasons or a combination of these options.

 

 

As a coach, I acknowledge that we’re all different and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting unstuck (if you want to, of course), so I’m sharing some ways you can further reflect on your ‘stuckness’ and what might be stopping you from moving. Hopefully you’ll gain a new perspective that will allow you to move or make a choice that will bring you peace-of-mind and joy. 

 

Being stuck doesn’t only mean being unable to move. It can also mean being unable to see or notice what’s going on within us or around us.

 

 

Here are five things to notice (i.e. pay more attention to) when you think you’re stuck:

 

Notice progress and process

 

In career coaching conversations, oftentimes clients admit that expectations from oneself or others, is the primary reason for feeling antsy, anxious, or seeing themselves as stuck. Our hyperfocus on our career goals and our desire for quick fix, can sometimes blind us from noticing the progress we’ve made and continue to make. 

 

Some questions you can ask yourself are…

 

  • What am I learning here?
  • How realistic are my expectations?
  • Where are my expectations coming from?
  • What does progress look like to me? 
  • How can I say that I am really making progress?
  • What wins can I celebrate?

 

Notice what you need to acknowledge and accept

 

Let’s face it. In life, we will make many tough decisions and perhaps not all of them will align perfectly with the what, when, where or how of our envisioned future. The pursuit of our career goals is not an overnight process. 

 

In my own career, I acknowledge and accept that there will be seasons when my career plans have to take a back seat, in favor of my other responsibilities as a wife and mom. But that doesn’t mean that I am letting go of my goals. 

 

Some questions you can ask yourself are…

 

  • What is it that you need to acknowledge and accept now? 
  • Knowing what you know about your “now”, what small steps can you take toward the future you envision? 

 

 

Notice when it’s not working 

 

“What have you tried doing about it?” is one question I usually ask when people come to me complaining that they’re unhappy about their jobs or they couldn’t find a job. 

– Albert Einstein

 

 

Even if you use your tried and tested strategies or someone’s so-called recipe for career success, don’t turn a blind eye when you notice (and feel) that things aren’t working out.

 

Some questions you can ask yourself are…

 

  • What’s my career strategy?
  • What’s working with my current career strategy? 
  • What’s not working with my current career strategy?
  • What can I do within my control or influence?
  • What needs to shift in terms of the way I am seeing, thinking or doing?
  • Who can help me here?

 

Notice options and possibilities

 

“Opportunities don’t always land on your lap, you create them,” I always say this to my team back when I was a people manager. Sometimes, we think that our career has hit a dead end or that there aren’t opportunities available.

 

Noticing options and possibilities, means getting up, turning our heads around to seek, and speaking up to ask. Sometimes, we’re too busy looking too far or chasing after what’s gone that we don’t notice what’s right in front of us.

 

Some questions you can ask yourself are…

 

  • What could be blinding you from seeing what’s possible?
  • Without considering feasibility, what possibilities are out there?
  • What internal and external resources can I leverage on?
  • What will be possible when I am able to overcome this?

 

Notice how you feel about failure

 

Sometimes, it is more comfortable to hold on to our familiar, failed approach to the problem than to risk a worse failure by attempting the big changes that we think will be required to eliminate it.”

— Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

 

Failure used to be my enemy. But things changed when I shifted careers, failure has its way of finding me. Workshops with low or zero registrants, plans that didn’t happen, investments without return, and so on. I’ve learned to befriend it since then, but not to be a slave to it that it cripples me.

 

Some questions you can ask yourself are…

 

  • What is it about failure that I fear most?
  • How important to me is getting unstuck? 
  • What am I willing to give or give up to make it happen?
  • How can I make failure beneficial to me?
  • What can failure teach me?

 

So where does career agility fit in?

 

One of the characteristics of career agility is awareness. Through noticing these five areas, we’re able to raise our awareness not only of our “stuckness” but also how we are responding to it. It’s pretty much like having a conversation with a professional career coach. 

 

Coaching allows you to see what you might be missing, what you might be ignoring, or what you might not be conscious about yet. And when you’re able to see clearly, you’ll be in a better position to plan and take action too. 

Career coaching helps!

 

Request for a complimentary session or send me a DM to if you’d like to build career agility in your organization. 

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