What to do when your career stalls

Experts give their top tips on how to rejuvenate your career prospects
by Brian Gorman


If you feel stuck in an unsatisfying job and your career is not developing in the way you had hoped, it may be time to strategically evaluate your options.

An article in Forbes by Amy Blaschka offers seven tips to help you progress in your career. “Even those with the best intentions and the loftiest ambitions can sometimes find themselves in a professional plateau,” she says.

The first tip Blaschka offers is to acknowledge your situation. Use self-awareness to identify negative emotions, such as feelings of frustration and demotivation. The second is to visualise what your future unstuck self might look like, even if you feel it’s a long way from where you are now. The third involves asking yourself what you want. Although simple, this question isn’t always easy to answer, says Blaschka, as some people struggle with insecurities about coming to grips with their true desires. The other four are: asking for and receiving help, helping others and showing gratitude for them, looking after yourself, and pushing yourself to achieve more.

Just do it!

An article by Katie Sanders in The Enterprisers Project, a community that helps leaders in IT solve problems, sets out advice from key figures on how to get out of a rut. The guidance they share could help to “reinspire the passion, reignite motivation, and re-establish the goals for professionals who feel stalled in their careers” she writes.

One of the key figures quoted, Bob Kantor, IT management consultant and executive coach, suggests looking at your situation in a different way – instead of asking how you could get inspired to take on a new challenge, simply decide to do it. “Once taken on, the experience of addressing it generates the inspiration needed to succeed,” says Kantor. He adds that it is often more about perspiration than inspiration.

It also helps to envision the future then work backwards to figure out the next steps, advises Vicky Oliver, the author of 301 Smart answers to tough interview questions, also quoted in Sanders' article. “These days, a career spans many phases, and the trick is to plan for each one,” she says. You can do this by brainstorming with those close to you about where you see yourself in five years, then work backwards to identify the steps needed to achieve your goal.

Oliver says you should never be afraid to take baby steps, perhaps as many as 20, to achieve the career of your dreams. She also advises finding people who are in the job role you are after and contacting them. To build the necessary skills, take classes or do volunteer work and “be fearless”, she says.

Becoming unstuck

There’s no black-and-white answer to becoming unstuck, writes Australian author Téa Angelos in an article in Body+Soul, which comprises an extract from her book Smart moves: simple ways to take control of your life.  

Angelos suggests starting off by diving deep into the exact reasons for feeling stuck in your job. She advises to “look back at the signs, and write a list of everything you do and don’t like about your job,” and ask whether there were specific situations that bothered you.

You could explore the possibilities of a new project that involves working with colleagues from other teams. “Speak with your manager to see if there’s any possibility of setting up some internal work experience to gain an insight into what the other teams do on an everyday basis.”  

Another way you can explore your passion and potentially turn it into your full-time job is to do it as a 'side hustle' outside of your work hours. This “is a great way to test out a new career path while still receiving a steady pay cheque from your regular job”.

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email fred.heritage@wardour.co.uk.
Published: 03 Mar 2023
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Soft Skills
  • culture
  • career development

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