Feeling like you are ‘stuck’ or in a rut at work can be extremely frustrating, particularly in today’s challenging labour market.
Perhaps you were on track for a promotion before the onset of the crisis, only for it to be delayed? Is your learning and development stalling as a consequence of ‘firefighting’ in the here and now? Or do you simply feel stuck in your job, but cautious about applying for a new one?
If any of these situations resonate with you, here are some proactive things you can do to move your career in the right direction.
1. Rediscover your self-confidence
Working remotely might mean you don’t receive those small positive reinforcements and ‘confidence boosts’ that you would with your team around you. This may have dented your confidence and left you doubting your skills.
If this sounds familiar, stop and reflect on all you have accomplished in your career so far. That success is down to you – no one else. Write down these accomplishments and refer back to them when you need a confidence boost. It might simply be that your growing lack of self-confidence and constant negative self-talk is what’s holding you back from pushing yourself and your career forward – thus making you feel claustrophobic in your current job.
2. Follow your own career plan
A career plan gives you direction over the short and long term, but it also provides you with day-to-day motivation. It can be incredibly powerful in driving your career forward and moving on from the work rut you’re experiencing.
While you might want to develop this with you boss, remember that this is your development and your career. Consider what you want to learn and achieve – rather than what your company or job dictates. If you’re feeling stuck because you’re not clear about the direction of your career, creating your own career plan should crystallise your thoughts and kickstart your motivation.
3. Expand your skillset
You’ve likely heard about adopting a ‘growth mindset’ and committing to lifelong learning. But what’s important is to connect the dots between doing this and moving forward in your career. Proactively expanding your skillset will help drive your professional development and fuel you to progress in your career.
Here are some ideas on upskilling in the current climate:
4. Find your passion for your profession
The degree of change, challenge and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic might have dampened your passion for your profession and leave you feeling caught in your current situation. But that passion can absolutely be regained – and now is the time to do it.
Remind yourself why you took on your current job in the first place.
What stood out to you in the job ad?
What led you to apply?
What was your impression from the interview?
This might uncover your initial passion for your profession which has been worn away over time.
If this doesn’t do the trick, take some time to reflect and think about what it is that you love about your job. As with before, writing this down can be a helpful exercise. Learning a new skill or reading about new trends in your industry may also help you regain the passion you have for what you do.
5. Look to your role models
Turn to experts or those who you look up to and see what they are doing in their careers. Look at how they got there and how you might be able to follow a similar path of progression. Expand your network to include those you aspire to be like and learn all you can from them. This will give you the motivation, inspiration and knowledge to really drive your career forward.
Do you have a career mentor? An advisor who you can confide in about the ups and downs in your career? Try to enlist someone in this position, as they can also push you towards your goals and help you move your career forward.
6. Explore new opportunities
If you’ve tried the above and still feeling claustrophobic in your job, maybe a change is what you need. Talk to your mentor or recruiter about what exactly you want from the next stage of your career and how to go about job hunting in the current climate.
Above all, remember that you won’t be the only one who is experiencing these feelings. Nevertheless they’re frustrating to say the least, even in non-pandemic circumstances. Try taking the steps above to free yourself from feeling claustrophobia at work and move forward, on the right track, with your career.
Mark joined Hays in 1985 as a trainee consultant and has been in various roles, sectors and locations during his time at Hays. He is a Board member and in 2019 his responsibilities extended to Hays Ireland.
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