How to Get Unstuck in Your Career

Why you don’t necessarily need a new job to get unstuck.

A few years ago, a Gallup poll determined that 70 percent of us are dissatisfied with our jobs.

One big reason for that? We feel stuck. But let’s face it: Getting a new job is a ton of work, and most of us would rather love the job we have.

Here’s the happy truth: Just because you feel stuck doesn’t mean you have to change jobs. Explore these three concepts to help you decide whether to leap in another direction or to make your current job your dream job.

Explore What Attracted You in the First Place

It may have been the industry, the location, the money, or the title. But there may be something else at play: Your purpose.

Whether or not you’ve considered it, everyone has a purpose. But often when we try to identify our own purpose, the concept can be too abstract or monumental to wrap our arms around. Here’s how to get past that feeling of overwhelm:

  • Jot down the jobs (including volunteer ones) that were satisfying or meaningful to you.
  • Write a sentence about why each was meaningful, such as, “I like helping people thrive.
  • Notice how similar your whys are. Do you see a pattern? That’s your purpose!

Once you remember why you are doing what you do and how it fits into your life pattern thus far, it will be easier to focus on how you fulfill your why, every day.

Explore Your Strengths

One of the things that makes us feel stuck in our career is losing touch with our true talents. That’s because most of us are blind to our own gifts. When we are doing something that plays to our strengths, it feels easy because, for us, it is! But because it feels easy, we may think it’s no big deal.

My friend Martha can walk into any gathering and help people make valuable connections. She knows who is who and how they can help each other. Not only is she good at it, but she is also energized by it. When I shared my observation, she said, “Oh, that’s nothing.”

That talent is one of the hardest and most useful skills a business woman could have, and she was dismissing it because it came so easily to her.

Let’s find your hidden talents.

  • Make a list of those things you are good at that may come so easily to you that you don’t even know what they are: analyzing data, bringing people together, managing a project, and so on. Don’t be modest! You may have a lot on your list.
  • Now mark the ones that are energizing and fun for you. That’s where your talent lies.
  • Once you know your talents and what energizes you, ask yourself: “In my current job, what percentage of my time am I doing what I love?” Your goal isn’t necessarily 100 percent, but it should be well over 50 percent.

Every career has parts we just have to deal with, but to enjoy going to work, we need to spend the majority of our time doing what energizes us.

A professional musician confessed to me that he spent 90 percent of his time doing things he hated – riding the tour bus and sitting in motel rooms waiting to perform. But, oh, that 10 percent! It was so good. Through our work together, he realized that he was ready to leave the road so he could spend a higher percentage of his time writing and making music.

Explore Your Options

Now we can dive into what options are available for you. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does what you or your organization do express your purpose? Even if your organization’s purpose doesn’t seem aligned with yours, what about your role?
  • If something fits into your why, but isn’t energizing to you, can a process be restructured? Are there people who love doing what you hate? That’s sometimes hard for us to imagine, but find out if it’s true for your organization.
  • Have conversations with others in your organization and ask for collaboration. That way, everyone can increase her engagement and satisfaction. Identify opportunities for delegation, job-swapping, and automation. This can yield amazing results and increased productivity for everyone

Bottom line? You have choices. We can choose to be happy by re-framing what we do. It’s like the story of the three masons. When asked what they did, one said he was laying brick, the second said he was building a wall, and third said he was building a cathedral. Which one might have loved his job more?

You deserve to get unstuck and love what you do.