27 September 2023

Three ways to get your career moving again

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Ashley Stahl* has advice for getting out of a career rut — especially for those who aren’t sure how they got into the rut in the first place.

You went to university, got a degree and now have that job you’ve always dreamed about.

You work in your industry of choice, you put on fancy work outfits you always envisioned for yourself and you have a fun group of co-workers.

So why do you feel hollow, empty and unfulfilled?

This wasn’t something you had prepared for, and there certainly wasn’t a university course about how to overcome this feeling.

The unfortunate news is you are in a career rut.

The good news is that although it may feel impossible to get out of — you can fix it.

Before you assume you need an entirely different career path, seek out other ways to get yourself unstuck.

From coaching many clients around the world, I have found that the majority of people are only a few millimetres off course.

If you feel stuck, one of the best ways to get out of a rut is to build up your professional network and support system.

Here are three ways to improve your community and pull yourself out of this hole.

Seek inspiration

When work, and life, begins to feel flat, the first thing you can do is seek out inspiration.

This starts with asking yourself: What can I do in my life right now to feel the energy of inspiration?

What is that thing for you? Is it dancing? Cooking classes? Nights out with friends?

When you get inspired, it leaks everywhere else, channels creativity and demands more of you.

Inspiration is all around you, and it’s simply a matter of finding it, or choosing to see it.

I find immense inspiration in reading books.

Order a book to read at night or get it on audible to listen to while you drive on your commute to the office.

Another way to seek inspiration is through other people.

Sign up for a masterclass by your favourite coach or attend a conference in your industry.

Begin to seek out people in your field that are seeking expansion.

It’s those types that will likely inspire you to make the change you yearn for.

You can always use LinkedIn as a resource to seek out and connect directly to someone who sparks inspiration.

Do a quick search with keywords for your industry and once you find a profile of someone you find inspiring, send them a message to connect over the phone or in person.

When you meet, ask them all about their story and background.

Studies reveal that when people talk about themselves, it activates the same part of the brain that lights up when eating great food or even having sex.

Self-disclosure creates a neurological buzz that is deeply gratifying.

Who knows what opportunities they may send your way as a result?

When you turn to others and evaluate their career you will learn a great deal about what your own wants and dreams are.

Meet with your career sponsor

You might be reading this and think, what is a sponsor?

A sponsor is a champion and advocate for your career who works within your organisation.

This would be the person that puts your name up for promotions or endorses you for a new career role.

This might sound similar to a mentor.

However, the two serve very different purposes.

A mentor is someone that will offer you advice and who has been where you are, or is at least a few steps ahead of where you’re at in your career.

Mentors expect little in return, while sponsors put themselves on the line to support you at work.

They are investing in you to become a leader or one of their own protégés.

The great thing about having a sponsor when you are in a rut is that they will provide guidance and be willing to help you seek out new opportunities if desired.

Ask for their feedback on what you can do to make improvements in your current role, or what opportunities they see within the organisation that you may be a good fit for.

Network with people you don’t know

This rut might have put you in a head space where you just want to go home from work, throw on sweatpants and be all alone.

Sometimes solitude is great; other times, not so much.

When you talk with other people, your brain will actually function better and enable you to see more clearly.

Get out and meet new people in different environments.

Their newness comes with a dopamine hit for you — of new ideas, new lifestyles and new possibilities.

Growth can come from having conversations with different people beyond your bubble.

This is the best way to catalyse your career and get unstuck.

If this career rut does steer you towards a new job or career altogether, don’t worry, you are not alone.

Studies reveal that the average 35-year-old will have changed jobs up to 10 times before age 42, and expects to change careers altogether six-to eight times before retirement.

The next time you fall into a career rut, don’t forget the only thing that is truly stuck is your thought patterns.

You’re often just a conversation away from clarity.

*Ashley Stahl is a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host and author. In a previous life she was award-winning counter-terrorism professional. She can be contacted at ashleystahl.com.

This article first appeared at ashleystahl.com.

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