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What to do When Your Career Feels “Stuck”

Do you ever feel “stuck” in your career? You realize you have plenty of work to do, but you actually don’t feel like you’re getting ahead? You notice you have not been promoted in awhile: ok, a long while. You wonder if you could do something else; you have no idea what; but secretly, you are afraid to make a change?

People get stuck at all levels of an organization. There’s the COO who wants to be CEO, but he/she is not viewed as enough of a leader. There’s the Sr. V.P. of Finance who wants to take over Operations, but is seen as too narrow in experience. There are the legions of people who feel stuck in middle management: the 50-year-olds who don’t know what they’ll do after taking the retirement package; the 40-year-olds who wonder if this is all there is, but are stuck in golden handcuffs; the 30-year-olds who would do anything just to move up.

We get stuck in our personal lives as well: frustrated because we can’t lose weight, can’t find a partner, too afraid to leave a partner or fearful of starting our own business.

We all get stuck at various points in our lives. That’s the human condition, and there’s no shame in being stuck. But, what a drag it is to stay stuck. The key question is: How do we handle these stuck times, get ourselves moving again, and learn whatever lesson was there to learn?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Admit that it is “you” who is stuck.
    This sounds simple, but many people want to skip this step. They feel that someone else is to blame for their lack of progress: It’s their boss’s fault, the company’s fault, that circumstance. Finding blame is a sure sign that you are focusing on external things instead of what you can do to move yourself forward. Look for the real obstacle internally. Are you avoiding the risk of rejection that comes with asking for what you want? What’s scary about moving forward? Fear of success or failure (they are the same fear)? Get honest with yourself, and don’t judge yourself.
  2. Write your goal in one sentence starting with the word “I.”
    Get clear on exactly who you want to be one year from today. For example: “I am the CEO.” “I am in a great relationship.” “I have a fantastic job.” Place your goal on your bathroom mirror and then each day challenge yourself: What have I done today to bring my goal into reality? We often know what we want, but we are stuck because we are not actually focused on the goal. When you put your “attention” on your “intention” you dramatically increase your ability to manifest what you want.
  3. Work on your “infrastructure.”
    Every business has infrastructure: systems, procedures that help the business run smoothly. People also have infrastructure. They are called personal standards, personal boundaries, values. Identify where you are missing personal policies and strategies that would help you get unstuck. For example, sometimes we are stuck because we feel we “do not have time” to work on a goal that is important to us. But actually, the real problem underneath time management is often a lack of infrastructure around boundaries. We are not “saying no” when we should. When people strengthen their boundaries and say no, they suddenly have more time for their goals.
  4. Take an action, even a baby step.
    Lots of people know what they really want. Many even have a plan. But they don’t do it. The difference between people who are successful and those who are not is one word: ACTION. Take 10 minutes each day to focus on the big picture of your career life and decide what action you need to complete: today. People say they don’t have time for this type of reflection. This is largely an excuse. Ten minutes a day is all it takes.

So get moving! Do these 4 actions and get yourself unstuck!

To hear Val talk more about strengthening your infrastructure, get the Audio CD: Building Your Personal Foundation.

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