Feeling stuck in your career? Challenge yourself to change…

January 27, 2013 by · 2 Comments 


Nothing is worse than the feeling of being helpless in your career.  Helpless.  Hopeless.  Stuck.

The notion that you don’t have any career options is a myth.  Every day you are making choices.  Every day you make the choice to work for the company where you are.  You make the choice to work for the boss you have.  You make the choice to work on the projects you drive.  Every day you’re making decisions about your career.

So what can you do if you don’t like your company, manager or projects?

I’ve been making a 6-figure income working for a Fortune 100 Company for the past 10 years, and also working as a leading Career Coach (yes, I’ve been busy :)) and I’ve learned that creating change is simply a step-by-step process and that even with the small steps can come big rewards –

1.      Know what you want.

What’s pulling you toward your career right now?  What’s pushing you away?

The first step in getting un-stuck is to sort through the logic and emotion of everything going on in your job right now and make a list of what all the positive things are that you’re getting in your job, such as a salary, benefits, doing purposeful work, working for a company you love, working for a manager you respect, being in an environment where you can constantly learn new things, etc.
Now make a list of things you dislike about your job such as little or no career advancement, limited visibility with leaders, feeling unvalued or unappreciated, being under-challenged, etc.

Now, look at both lists.  Are you still feeling that you need a career change? Is there anything you can change on your “dislike” list?  Many times it’s difficult for us to come up with solutions on our own so try brainstorming possibilities with a few people you trust such as a mentor, manager, department managers or colleagues.
What’s in your control that you could change?  How could change it?  Who could help you?

2.      Shake things up internally. 

If you like your job, but just wish one or two things would change – then see if you can make it happen.  There are probably parts of your job that you enjoy, and parts that you don’t.  Identify what those are and then have a heart to heart talk with your manager.

Try saying something like, “I am really enjoying my job, but there are a few things I’d like to see if we could change.”  I once said to one of my managers something like, “I’m really not sure how much value I’m adding to the research project, but if you gave me those 4 hours each week, I would use them to create a new leadership initiative.”  I then went on to explain the new initiative and how it would benefit me, the department and my manager. Ten minutes later he told me to, “Go for it!”

Another time I asked one of my manager’s if he needed any help with the budget and told him that I wanted to learn about managing the department’s finances.  He gave me more financial responsibility and taught me everything I wanted to know!

Other great sources to help you shake things up internally could be your manager’s manager, other department managers and anyone who has, or has had, a responsibility that you would like to have.  Two key things to remember are –

a.      You are the only one who can make a change happen.
b.      You cannot make a change by yourself – you need the support, wisdom and mentorship of others.

3.      If you can’t get what you want internally – go external.

Sometimes our career requires big bold changes.  If you’re unhappy in your job and you can’t get what you want inside your current organization, then it’s time to explore external opportunities.

The first step is to simply start exploring possibilities. Talk to others who are in the industry or job role that interests you.  Ask them what a good day looks like, what a bad day looks like, if they have any special training or education, and how they got their job.  You can learn a lot about different career options simply by talking to others.

After you identify a job role that you are really interested in, the next step is to start exploring job openings.   Let your network know that you are ready to take the next step in your career and ask if they could send you any job leads, referrals or recommendations.

Also, search the job boards on company websites where you want to work.  Be sure to set up Job Agents on Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com so that you’ll receive weekly job openings in your e-mail box.

Whether you make a few small changes in your career or one big bold change, you owe it to yourself to have a career that lets you do meaningful, purposeful work and makes you feel valued, appreciated and energized.  You really do have control over your career – you just have to get in the driver’s seat and make it happen! 🙂

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

About Career Coach Sherri Thomas
Sherri Thomas is a leading career coach who helps professionals transform and thrive in their career. She is a leading career coach, Huffington Post writer, globe trotting keynote speaker, and the 2013 Best Career Book author of “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback.” As a sought after media source, she has been featured in top news outlets including NBC-TV Phoenix, the Wall St. Journal, TIME, New York Daily News, Monster.com and many others. She loves traveling around the world and learning about other cultures, thrives in nature, and will always encourage you to go on what she calls a life changing Kenyan safari because the 30-hour flight journey “isn’t that bad.”

2 responses to “Feeling stuck in your career? Challenge yourself to change…”

  1. Yingying says:

    Great post Sherri! It’s very important to know what we want from our careers, and know when we need to move on!