How To Get Unstuck To Make Career Progress

Never stop trying to achieve your dreams

So, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re like most people, you’ve fallen off the wagon or have hit a serious stumbling block. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is a whopping 80 percent. And that statistic can be especially disheartening when you’ve made career-related resolutions, and you feel you’ve hit a professional plateau.

Here are seven tips on how to get unstuck and back on track to make progress in your career:

1. Admit you’re in a rut.

Though it seems obvious, many people don’t realize they’re in a rut, career-wise. They busy themselves being busy, ignoring the red flags of their discontent, or use their fear as a way to avoid confronting their reality. But the first step in solving a problem is identifying it as a problem. Use your self-awareness to recognize when you’re feeling unmotivated, frustrated because you don’t have an answer or resource that might help you progress, or seem to lack a clear direction. If any of these red flags ring true, you’re probably in a rut.

2. Change your mindset.

When you’re feeling stuck, it’s tempting to wallow in your misery. But staying in a negative headspace won’t help you move forward. Instead, shift your mindset to one of positivity and possibility. Remove the shackles of what is to consider what could be. Get curious. Allow yourself to envision what the career of your future unstuck self might look like, even if it varies from your current professional scenario.

3. Help others and practice gratitude.

One of the best ways to deal with feeling stuck is getting out of your head and helping someone else. Proactively offer assistance to those struggling. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s amazing the shift that occurs when you move from a selfish position to one of service. When you help someone solve a problem, you feel better, which changes your mindset and paves the way for more good.

Another way to do this is to practice gratitude. Write a thank you letter to someone who’s had an impact on your life. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. This becomes a virtuous cycle for positivity and good, and a win-win to help get you back on track.

4. Figure out what you want.

Getting unstuck requires clarity and begins with your ability to answer a simple question: “What do I want?”

Though simple, that question isn’t easy for most to answer. Some wrestle with insecurities and fears about coming to grips with their true desires; others have never pushed the pause button on their busy lives to give themselves space to do so. If you’re in the middle of a career rut, now is the time to answer that question honestly—even if the answer is different from what you thought it might (or should) be.

5. Ask for help—and be open to receiving it.

Staying inside your own head when you’re feeling stuck will only make you more stuck. Instead, once you know what you want, reach out to ask for help. A trusted friend or mentor can also offer words of encouragement in a supportive and non-judgmental voice. Chances are, they’ve been there before and help you find your way out.

But the other side of asking for help is opening your mind to be in a position to receive it. Do your best to listen to the advice given, understanding that it might include an unfamiliar path. Rather than resist it, remain flexible and adaptable to up your odds of moving past your current plateau.

6. Get out of your comfort zone.

Stagnation thrives in the comfort zone; it’s where career ruts are born. If you want things you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done. Getting unstuck is about pushing yourself to take risks and reaping the rewards. At work, showcase your expertise by being proactive in asking for challenging assignments, offer to lead a new business pitch, or volunteer to train new hires. Outside of the office, bolster your professional development by taking ongoing educational classes, joining industry boards and committees, and connecting with those who inspire you professionally. The key to getting unstuck is taking action, and action begets more action.

7. Don’t forget the importance of self-care.

Beating yourself up or ignoring your needs is counterproductive to your progress. Research shows that self-care drives success, so get into the habit of treating yourself the supportive way you would a treasured friend or colleague. This means being kind and caring toward yourself rather than harshly self-critical.

And make sure to listen to your body—are you having frequent headaches? Are you exhausted? Are you unmotivated? It’s probably time to replenish yourself. Nourish your body with proper rest, relaxation, nutrition, and movement. Enrich your mind with educational and uplifting podcasts, books, TED talks, articles, and videos. Recharge your spirit through meditation, prayer, and reflection, by spending time in nature, and by visiting with friends and loved ones.

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