Humankind is now living the biggest crisis of our generation, fighting an invisible enemy, the coronavirus. Our government, as many already did, imposed emergency measures, placing the Romanian citizens on a police-enforced lockdown. In other words, we are stuck in our homes to protect ourselves and others too.
While living and fighting the feeling of being (physically) stuck, I've remembered an article that I have written back in 2017 about how to deal with the feeling of being professionally stuck, but, oh boy, it is so so relevant in the days we're living now.
I'm leaving the article below.
Have you asked yourself recently what happiness is? Or are you happy?
Do you even know what makes you happy?
We are living great times when everything we need is one click away (in most cases), but even so, many people don’t know what to answer when they are asked if they are happy or not. Happiness has several variables, including a fulfilling life with your partner, a great job with an income that satisfies your needs for buying things, having friends and family to spend time with. Or just being able to spend your time doing the things you love.
And the list can continue.
Usually, we set some expectations about how our life should be managed and when things are not working as planned, we get frustrated or disappointed.
Have you ever felt that? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It happens quite often to ask people “how’s it at work?” and in many cases, I get a similar answer: “Hmmm, all good, I guess, not the best, not the worst, it is just a regular job. 8 hours per day and then I go home”. The feeling of being stuck in your career it might lead to feelings like lack of motivation, boredom, frustration caused by different aspects of your life at work and a continuous waiting for something to change. Things that used to make you happy in the past are not working anymore.
Usually, when I hear someone telling me these “symptoms” in regards to his/her job, I would recommend him/her to make a change in his/her career. But it is not always that easy to pack your things and fly away to another company, without reflecting all the things that got you to the point of feeling stuck and understand what you can do to overcome this feeling. Otherwise, you can easily fall again in the same situation in a few months.
Here are my thoughts about what to remember when feeling stuck:
Answer yourself to the following two questions:
- “Do you love what you do?” No matter what your job is, I think it is very important to love what you have chosen to do. Doing so, all other things can be adjusted in some way to fit your needs.
- “Do you see yourself doing something else?”. If the answer to this question is yes, then maybe it would be a good idea to start digging into that thing, rather than spending time fixing something that you are not sure you still love or want to do.
I used this exercise and answered myself to these two questions when I felt stuck. I see it as a preliminary step of redesigning your career and enough power to help you move forward with what you love to do.
Take a step back and try to see the big picture. The feeling of being stuck in a rut is usually caused by a variety of reasons and detaching yourself from the current situation can help you identify them.
For example, you might feel that you don’t have any promotion opportunities, that your professional growth is on pause and the context you are in doesn’t offer you many possibilities to make new or innovative things. You might also feel that your work is not so important and you are not appreciated anymore. Maybe in all that routine that you have created at work, you started at some point to feel that there is something you want or need to change or to do differently, but you ignored it for a long time. And all this made you feel that you are stuck in a rut.
Identifying what makes you feel stuck is a crucial step in trying to get out of this feeling.
Seeing the big picture does not only help you identify what caused you the feeling of being stuck but also might reveal some new opportunities that you may take in your career. One thing that helped me was to identify what I really enjoy about my current work. After you identify what you like about your job, you can start to create a plan for you to follow containing the steps that will help you move forward. An important thing to remember is that there is no need to make drastic changes or to expect you to make big steps. Even the tiniest step is progress. And at some point, all these small steps become a big one. Even if you don’t have a very clear picture of the final result, take every chance as a new challenge, meet new people that might bring you some fresh ideas, experiment new things, explore new ideas, be open and have patience with yourself.
Listen to your intuition. When your brain thinks and overthinks the same scenarios and gets stuck in finding a good way to follow, listen to your gut feeling. This may tell what your brain doesn’t or refuse to tell. Try to discover what is that you like and enjoy the time spent with yourself. Remove all the negative thinking about what others advised you to do, about the discussions that made you feel angry or frustrated, it is not about them, it is all about you now. Someone told me once that I am the one holding the key and by that time I got a bit frustrated telling myself “she knows nothing about my situation”. Yes, it may sound like a boring cliché, but it is unpleasantly true. We have the power to take any decision about our career and we have the power to make things happen in our way.
I was saying a few lines above that it is good to stay open.
Accept any new challenge with gratitude, maybe something good is going to happen, even if it does not perfectly fit your initial plan. Try, see what happens, adapt, try again, fail, try again and so on.
Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself. — Saint Francis De Sales
I truly believe that things that are meant to happen will happen to you only when you are completely ready for them. At the right time, in the right place. And with every success that you have and any rejection, you get closer to your goal.