Stuck in Your Career?

Stuck in Your Career? You Can Get Unstuck—Here’s How

I’ve recently been talking to some people who say they are stuck in their careers.

They want to climb further up the corporate ladder. They want a better paying job, one that maximizes their strengths, offers more challenge, and allows them to partner with their executive. In short, they want more.

They are having a hard time finding more.

Naturally, excuses are the first things that come forward:

–    I’m too old.
–    I need a university degree.
–    They just don’t see me anymore.

It is possible that your company has started looking through you instead of at you. That can sometimes happen, over time. They can take you for granted, and they may assume you are happy with your career and no longer wish to grow or be challenged.

Whatever the issue, the bottom line is—you’re stuck. Stuck because of excuses, or stuck because you’ve become too familiar and comfortable to those around you.

The good news is: you can become unstuck.

Here are some strategies to help you get unstuck:

1) Be sure you aren’t practising stinking thinking. Have you been saying to yourself that you’ve worked longer at your company than anyone else, and it’s your “turn” to get a promotion? Have you been acting like you are entitled to a promotion, raise, or recognition? That type of stinking thinking is holding you back.

Boomers are often critical of the Millennial generation, calling them “entitled.” This may or may not be true of Millennials, but have you ever considered whether you, yourself, feel entitled?

Do you expect that, because you’ve put in the years, you are due a promotion, pay raise, or recognition? The first step to getting unstuck is to stop that line of thinking and take control of your career.

2) The second thing to do is to start tooting your own horn. Thinking that hard work and good performance alone are enough to get you seen is potentially very damaging to your career. Start learning to say, “I did that” and take ownership of your accomplishments.

Tooting your own horn doesn’t mean you need to be an egomaniac. It means you need to stop being invisible when it comes to your abilities, your accomplishments, and your career aspirations.

3) Let your boss know you are looking for more responsibility, more accountability, more compensation. It might mean that you will leave your executive and work higher up the ladder in your company. But let your executive know that, although the two of you have a great relationship and you value it, it’s time for you to do more.

Maybe things can work out so that there is more for you to do in your current role. Maybe not. Either way, think of your current executive as someone who can help you get where you want to go. But for her to do that, she has to know that this is what you want. If she doesn’t think you are capable (sadly) she will tell you. Then you can find the areas that need improvement for you to get out of this rut and into the role that you do want.

4) Get visible. Many admins like the role of admin because it is a behind-the-scenes role. While this is good for many, it is harmful if you are trying to get unstuck. You need to get visible.

5) Step up your networking. Every day, make a point to leave your desk at lunch. Even if it’s just to walk around the building once or twice, or even down the block and back. You might meet someone in the elevator as you’re heading down. Make a point to, at least once a week, have lunch or coffee with someone. Networking is instrumental to your career growth. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t have lunch with the same person all the time. Meet other people from different departments. Meet people from your professional association, or from other companies.

Besides being visible for lunches, start volunteering to work on committees, special projects, and to take on extra projects outside of your current role.

My guess is that right now you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to do all these things.” If you don’t make time, then you will be stuck in that job for the rest of your life. If this is a priority, make it a priority.

Getting stuck in a career is just as easy as growing older. Getting unstuck takes awareness, effort, and the willingness to do more.

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