Feeling stuck in your career?

The world of work has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. Many of us have been prompted to examine our lives. With working from home, we have had a lot more quiet time with ourselves and our thoughts:


"Am I spending my life doing the things I enjoy?"

"What am I really good at? What do I want to develop in?"

"I feel bored at work, I need something more stimulating."

"There are other things I care about more, I wish I was working on them."

These may be some of the things that have crossed your mind. It certainly has crossed mine. On the one hand, it's great to be rethinking your life, on the other hand, I know it can be extremely frustrating to only have the questions but not the answers. You can easily be drawn into a spiral of thoughts, creating multiple arguments within your head. This then leads to stress and anxiety in the background. 

If you’ve been working for some time, chances are where you are in life is now very different to when you first started working. If you’ve been on the same career path until now, perhaps your life goals and interests have changed and yet you haven’t had the opportunity to examine whether the path you chose is still leading you to where you want to be. Here are some useful ways to frame your questions and thinking that will lead you to more clarity:

Instead of ‘what do I want to do with my life?’, ask ‘what do I enjoy doing right now?’

When we think about our career, often we want to think big and far. We are taught to ask ourselves ‘where do I see myself in x number of years?’, and ‘what are my career aspirations?’ These are huge questions that many people find difficult to answer with certainty.

The thing is, there are many things we can learn about our career aspirations from the present moment. For example, can you think of moments at your current job when you feel like you lose the sense of time because you’re so focused and invested in what you’re doing? What are you doing in those moments? Are you alone or are you working with someone(s) in particular? 

You can also learn a lot from the interpersonal relationships you have. For example, are there certain interactions at work that really drain you? What is it about these interactions that you really don’t like? Is it a particular person and how they make you feel? Or is it the way you feel like you need to behave in these interactions? 

Work encompasses the things we need to achieve, but also the connections we make. By sorting through how you truly feel about them, you may gain some clarity as to whether your dissatisfaction comes from the work itself or the work environment. This will help you determine what it is that you need to tackle. 

What are some things that have caught your interest outside of your assigned work? 

Often when people think about other interests, they think about ‘outside of work’ and things that are completely unrelated to their job. It’s definitely worth considering these activities, but also there may be activities at your organisation that interest you, yet are not currently within your work remit. 

For example, you may work in finance but find the work they do in marketing interesting. Could you reach out to someone in the marketing team to find out more? Sometimes even a simple chat can give you ideas and inspiration. When you’re feeling bored at work, you often want to just get out of there, and do something different. That’s totally a valid feeling, however, before you do, why not explore other perspectives within the company? The goal here is not to convince yourself to stay but to leverage and learn from a ready-made community of professionals within your reach.

Of course, there probably are things that really interest you outside of work. For example, perhaps you realise you’re really good at baking and would love to do that full time because it brings you joy. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life'. I think this is such a misleading phrase that sends people on a wild goose chase to find what they love doing. When you turn a hobby into work, you need to be prepared that practical issues will mean that you can’t purely do it for your own enjoyment. You will have customers to take care of, income to worry about, etc, which may very well take away the simple joy you experienced before when doing it as a hobby. 

Instead of jumping into turning your hobby into your career, you can use the hobby to give yourself more information about what brings you joy. For example, in the case of baking, it could be elements of working with your hands that you enjoy and also being able to see tangible end products. These are really important nuggets of truth about yourself that can play a big part in guiding you to the next step in your career. 

By asking yourself good questions, similar to what happens in a coaching session, you can better understand the underlying details that are making you feel stuck in your career. Once you have this insight, you will be able to commit to a change that will have a higher chance of success. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Woking GU21 & London W1D
Written by Iris Chang, Coaching as a Power Equalizer | Career & Leadership
Woking GU21 & London W1D

Iris is a transpersonal coach who is also training to be a Gestalt therapist. She is particularly passionate about supporting people in high-performance work environment to find their own purpose and meaning. Iris believes that you are most fulfilled when you are living a life guided by your own values and truth.

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