What to do when you feel stuck at work

It’s one of the most common complaints in the workplace: feeling stuck at work. Do you start and end the day thinking that your career doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? Maybe you feel like everyone gets promoted except you. Yet you are continually being told what a great job you are doing, and the work seems to just keep piling up! Then you start thinking about things like:

“Where am I going? »

“I’ve been here so long, I better hold on.”

Or “It could be worse.”

Imagine you’re in the middle of a conversation with a dear friend, and when the subject of your marriage comes up, you say, “Well, it could be worse.” Sounds crazy, right? But we are often willing to make these kinds of compromises in our professional lives without thinking twice.

Fortunately, the tide is turning. A recent Oracle study found that post-pandemic, most workers have a different view of what defines their success. Workers are letting employers know that flexibility and skills development have become an integral part of their jobs. The survey of more than 14,600 employees in 13 countries found that even though people feel stuck at work, they are ready to take back control of their future.

So if that sounds like you and you’re ready to break out of your professional rut, these strategies will help you get started.

Identify the source of the “blockage”

The first step is to understand where these feelings are coming from. Do you feel stuck at work because your manager won’t allow you to move forward? Is the corporate culture incompatible with your own values? Are you overworked and undervalued? Take a step back to analyze where these feelings are coming from and what you want to be different. Be specific. One way to do this is to create a vision board or simply write down in detail what you would like your career to look like. Another useful exercise is to list your top ten values ​​and then narrow them down to your top five. At this point, you will be able to determine if your values ​​are compatible with those of your company.

Change your point of view

Sometimes success comes when you lose focus on what isn’t working. By changing the way you think, you could end up changing your results. Author and clinical psychologist Beth Kurland, Ph.D., offers this practice in four steps: notice, accept, inform, and change.

  1. Notice: Notice what you tell yourself about the situation. How do you interpret it and is what you think is correct?
  2. Accept: Accept your first feelings about the situation. Acknowledge what you are feeling and accept the emotions present.
  3. To inform: Ask yourself if there are other ways to look at the situation.
  4. Change: Shift where you focus your attention and notice what is going on in your body and mind.

Change your habits

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When you feel stuck at work, try changing up your routine. Sometimes feeling stuck is a sign of boredom. Look for ways to add unique experiences to your day. For example, expand your network, pursue a new hobby, or go outdoors. Research shows that being in nature can reduce stress, increase mental well-being and improve creativity. Even small changes in behavior can lead to impactful results over time.

play devil’s advocate

Let’s say you feel stuck at work because you’re not being promoted. Next, imagine yourself slipping into your manager’s shoes. Would that really make you happy or do you just suffer from career comparison syndrome? Comparing yourself to colleagues can make you frustrated and anxious. But that doesn’t help create the life you want. Instead, it simply takes away valuable time and energy that you could have spent building a successful career. The real question to ask is: “what would me happy?” Then you can make a plan to make it happen.

Define aims

When you feel stuck at work, identifying specific career goals can motivate you and give you purpose. Even if it seems out of reach, it’s better to have a big goal than no goal at all. It’s much easier to get stuck and blame our boss, the economy, or that we’re doing everything for our kids. Instead, ask yourself what you want to achieve in the next six months or a year. If that seems too far off, start small, like in a month or two.

Take action

All of these steps are useless if you do nothing to remedy your situation. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat. Once you have identified a goal, start taking action little by little. For example, maybe you want to learn a new skill. Start looking for courses or certification courses. Discuss with your boss the possibility of attending a relevant seminar or conference. Or network with people who have this expertise and find out how they became proficient in this area.

There is no magic formula or secret formula for peeling off. But if you put yourself at the top of your to-do list each day, the rest will fall into place.


Wondering if it’s finally time to change jobs or careers? Take my 60 second career quiz and find out!

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