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Top ways to get your career unstuck (Part 2)


If your career is dead-ended, find out how to revive it.

Photo by Benny Lin

When you feel stuck in your career, the first step is to determine what is holding you back. The next step is to plan how to make the changes to free up your options.

Check out 10 reasons your career may be stalled to see if you recognize a scenario that is keeping you from reaching the success you want. In Top ways to get your career unstuck (Part 1), you’ll find the first five pattern-breaking suggestions.  Here are five more:

6. The stress is killing you: Have you changed or has the level of pressure in your workplace changed? If it is you, that means you may be able to remedy whatever has made you more vulnerable to stress. Therapy can help, and sometimes the company will pay for it as part of your benefit package (the EAP mentioned in the earlier post). If the pressure has changed, figure out if it is possible to be reassigned to different duties or a different department. Let your manager know that you are doing your best to work within the system to do the best job possible for the company. If flexibility on their part isn’t possible, a job search may be the only way to preserve your health. I strongly urge you to put your health first. Your family will understand a financial sacrifice better than a heart attack.

7. You made the wrong move: Have you talked to your supervisor about it? If it takes admitting you made a bad choice, then do it. You may never get your boss to agree that having a baby was more important than the last week of the project. Give it up. Being employed is worth more than being right. Many companies are open to second chances. Maybe yours is one of them.

8. You gave it everything you had: Walk away. You’re likely a Type A who gives 120% 120% of the time. That’s usually a recipe for emotional disaster unless you learn to pace yourself. Your walk may only need to be a two-week vacation. If that’s true, it MUST be without contact. No calling you to ask where the report is. No visits to the office just to check in on your assistant.  You must make the break a clean one or you won’t heal. Go lie on a beach or build a Habitat for Humanity home. Just get as far away from your job as possible. If a vacation isn’t enough, consider a sabbatical or extended leave. This is just as serious as our friend above who was worried about not living through the stress.

9. You’re under attack: If you feel attacked, you are. Many will tell you it’s your imagination, and more will tell you that you need thicker skin, a tougher attitude, or a stiff drink. They are wrong. You can talk to HR, but I don’t recommend it. In cases like this, HR’s job is to protect the company, and you will be seen as the threat. Some states are working on anti-bullying laws for the workplace, but I know of none that have passed. Employees usually cannot afford to go up against the company in court, and most attorneys  don’t want to work for the employee side of a workplace dispute. Unfortunately, about 75% of people who are bullied ultimately get another job. Most feel it was their only recourse. If you want to stand up for yourself , do NOT go it alone. Find allies, people who will stand with you against the bully. Know that bullying cycles usually last about two years. If you can’t wait that long and/or can’t find support in your colleagues, it is time to look for a job. You may need to take a break first because of the damage already done to your confidence. It sounds harsh, and it is.

10. You were fired: Find out if your company offers outplacement services and ask what the deadline is for taking advantage of them. You are likely not in a good place to look for a job right away. Unless you are going to be homeless or starving as a result, take a break. You are probably in shock and need time to gather yourself before starting your search. However, don’t fall into the trap of staying at home thinking about the wrong done to you. Make every effort to connect positively with family and friends. If you can manage a vacation, take one. Get as far away from the toxic situation as you can. Vow that when you return, you will be ready to plan the rest of your career. Find a therapist to help you through the shock to your confidence. Losing a job is one of the great stressors of our lives, and the impact should not be underestimated. Sometimes, marriages don’t survive, children suffer, homes are lost, and a lifetime of achievement disappears in what seems like a single moment. A therapist will help you work through the emotional fallout much more quickly than you can on your own. When you feel like yourself again, start planning your next career. A good career coach will be able to ask you important questions to help you make these decisions.

Sometimes, discovering what’s wrong isn’t enough. We need the help of a professional to get over a cold if it has developed into pneumonia. If your career virus has turned into something bigger, reach me at Jeri@WorkwriteResumes.com to discuss how we might start your walk toward a new work life.

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