Feeling stuck… at work
Feeling stuck is a sensation many of us can relate to. We may not know the reason why immediately, but we know we don’t feel happy. Something is keeping us rooted to the spot and we feel restricted, unable to grow and therefore stagnant.
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Identify the cause
The word ‘stuck’ is ambiguous and recognising this feeling is a good first step, but alone it isn’t particularly helpful. The only way you’ll help yourself become unstuck is by getting to the root of how you’re feeling. Here are some examples of why you may be feeling stuck.
You’re not sure what you want to move towards
Sometimes we feel stuck because we’re simply unsure of what we want from our career anymore. We don’t have a goal or vision guiding our way so we don’t know where we want to go work-wise. Reconnecting with your core values is an excellent first step here and you might also find it helpful to learn more about your strengths (you can take a free assessment at viacharacter.org). Then you might want to ask yourself some big questions with these values and strengths in mind. Picture your perfect day at work, five years from now – what are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Where are you?
Visualising your perfect day can help you uncover the feeling you want and help you identify the first steps you can take to get there.
It can be easy to become complacent at work and this can quickly lead to boredom. Perhaps you don’t feel challenged at work, or you’re not working in a field you feel passionate about. Whatever the reason, boredom requires change to shake things up.
Depending on your situation, big changes might not be possible, but what about small changes? Go to your manager and ask for a small change that could help you feel more engaged at work, telling them your reasoning and how it will benefit the company. Treat it like an experiment and see how it makes you feel, this small change could open the door for bigger changes down the line.
If you don’t believe change within your current role will be enough, it may be time to look for other jobs. Try reaching out to someone in the job or industry you’re considering and see if you can chat to them to learn more about desired skills or ways into the job.
You’re stuck in chaos
When the default state at work is ‘hectic’, it can be hard to move anywhere. You’ll likely find yourself fire-fighting on a daily basis, reacting to incoming tasks rather than working on what you truly want to in order to progress in your career.
It can be helpful here to raise this with your line manager to try and find ways you can move forward amongst the busy-ness. Can you delegate tasks? Do you need to reaffirm your boundaries and say no more often?
Try ear-marking some sacred time where you will work on projects that will move you and the company forward each week. Set boundaries around this time and make it a ‘do not disturb’ day (or morning/afternoon if a whole day isn’t possible) so others in the company know not to come to you with questions. Even if you only manage a couple of hours a week, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make in focused bursts.
Once you’ve identified why you feel stuck, you can move onto the next step – taking action.
Clarity can’t be achieved through thinking, guessing or hypothesising. Instead you need to start taking action depending on what cause you’ve identified and notice what helps and what doesn’t.
For example, you may think a small change will help you feel less bored at work, but once you’ve made that change you may still feel unfulfilled and stuck. This can uncover a deeper unhappiness and prompt you to think about your purpose and what more you want from your work life.
You don’t need to be absolutely sure to take action, this clarity and confidence will come once you start moving forward. Consider any stumbles that happen on the way as feedback, helping you get closer to what you truly want.
As simple as some of these ideas may sound when written out in an article, uncovering what’s really going on and taking action can be tough. Self-doubt can pipe up, we may lose our nerve or it may simply feel easier to stay stuck than move forward. This is why getting support can be so powerful.
Career coaching is an option many turn to in these circumstances. Working with an unbiased professional can offer the space you need to dig a little deeper, unpick why you feel stuck and offer the accountability you need to take action.
If this isn’t possible, you may want to talk things through with your line manager at work, HR or even a friend – someone who’s rooting for you to feel more fulfilled. You could ask them to gently hold you accountable and check in with you to see how you’re getting on.
Either way, know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Lots of people have felt this way and go on to become unstuck, happier and more fulfilled.
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