What to do when you feel stuck

Published on January 10, 2024

That underlying boredom or frustration you feel has a reason. In order to be able to do something concrete about it, you have to understand exactly what is causing it. 

Let me show you what that might look like, using a client of mine as an example. 

Alex is a marketing director who feels unmotivated and unfulfilled at work, despite having a successful career on paper and a salary to match it. He had really good days when he worked on specific projects, but those were few and far between. 

So the first thing I asked him to do is to pay very close attention to his daily experiences at work, all the interactions he has, and to note when he feels most disengaged or frustrated.

What he realised was that his lack of enthusiasm stemmed not from the job itself, but from the repetitive nature of the tasks he had to do, and the lack of creative challenges. He wasn’t involved in creative campaigns, but was focused more on budgets and reporting to the executive team.

When he reflected on what he valued most in his career, Alex realised he gets excited when he is involved in creating and innovating and when he gets a chance to think strategically and solve problems creatively , but his role offered limited opportunities to do what he loved most. 

In short, his job responsibilities did not match his skills and interests.

What he did know was that he didn’t want to leave the company yet so he started exploring roles within his organisation that were aligned more closely with his interests. He also started talking to people more over his lunch breaks, meeting more people in the company, following up with any new people he met in meetings and whose approach he liked. He basically started socialising more at work.

He also talked to his manager about his feelings and ended up taking a secondment in another department, working on a project that he was really interested in. 

So the process would look like this:

Identify the cause: pay attention and maybe even journal your daily experiences at work for a week or a month. Note when you feel most disengaged or frustrated. What are you doing that makes you feel that? What is happening around you?

Get clear on your personal values and goals: ask yourself what matters most to you in your career. What must a job have to keep you motivated and interested? Does your job offer that right now?

Analyse your skills and interests: make a list and see how that matches your current job responsibilities and his interests.

Consider options: what roles would better suit your skills and interests? Do they exist internally? Or do you have to leave the company? Are there any side projects or further education you might take on in order to do work that better suits your interests?

Make a plan: speak to a mentor, a coach, or your manager. What options are available? What do you need to do specifically to create opportunities? 

There is no magic bullet out there to solve your problems in one go. But there is so much you can start doing right now to feel better and more in control of your career- after all, it is your responsibility and yours alone. 

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