Is Your Job Going Nowhere? Then It’s Time to Take Action
It is possible that at some point in your career you may begin to feel blocked, stalled, or going nowhere in your job or with your employer. When that occurs you can use it as a time to reflect and redirect your focus, or you can become frustrated and do nothing to change the conditions. Taking no action may seem like the easiest option as it requires little effort on your part. You can talk to your colleagues and friends who may side with you in your feeling of frustration and perhaps the unjust nature of your present circumstances. But that can only intensify the negative feelings you are experiencing, which does not resolve anything for you in the long run.
Any time you believe you are not getting the results you hoped for, whether or not you have tried to improve your performance, outcomes, or attitude about your job, you can use what you are experiencing now as a warning sign. This is a mental wake-up call that indicates your career plan needs to be adapted or altered in some way. It could be an internalized belief or expectation that needs to be adjusted, or it may mean your career plan is due for a reevaluation if you are unable to change the circumstances surrounding your current employment. When you experience a feeling of being held back or stuck, it is time to create a new strategy for your career development and professional self-improvement.
What are Your Career Goals?
If you are feeling something negative about your job it can be difficult to look beyond the current circumstances. One suggestion is to take another approach by itemizing the goals you have established for your career, and if you have done this already it will serve as a needed reminder. Perhaps you aspire to change jobs, learn a new skill, pursue professional development, or change careers altogether. Whether it is simple or complex, write down everything you are interested in as a career goal or series of goals. This will allow you to begin to take some form of action now and it will help you to not forget about your career plan over time.
Once you have made a determination of what it is you aspire to do, regardless of the level of perceived complexity, you can evaluate where you are in relation to where you want to be – both short term and long term. Often when people feel stuck it is due to not thinking past where they are now or how to get to where it is they want to be. Part of the problem may be due to the nature of your goals, especially if those goals are no longer relevant or not specific. You don’t need to have all of the details or a clear picture of your career future; however, develop enough of a description to establish a working baseline. For example, if you aspire to become the manager of a department and you believe progress is not being made towards that goal, you can evaluate the steps you’ve taken and then determine what steps are needed to work towards making this goal a reality.
Time for a Career Check-Up
Now that you have a greater awareness of your career plans, and you are able to provide a general description of those plans, it is helpful to now conduct a check-up. This will be a self-analysis of your goals, mindset, attitude, and the potential to realize completion of your goals. This will help you create a disposition of action and that can help you think of your career from a positive perspective, which encourages growth and development.
- Are my aspirations easy to translate? Everything you want to accomplish or become needs to be translated into a goal if you are going to give yourself the best possibility of realizing its successful completion. This transforms a career need or a professional desire into an actionable item, something you can add to your weekly to-do list. From that point you can use short term goals as stepping stones or checkpoints along the way to completion of the full long term goals.
- Are my career goals realistic? Once you have established your goals it is important to assess the feasibility of each one. A goal that is not realistic may soon be forgotten or eventually discarded. This does not mean you cannot reach beyond what you are currently capable of doing or discard dreams for something new. Just be certain that if you do want to stretch your abilities you have built in steps or short term goals that are based upon acquiring the knowledge or skills required through training or other forms of professional development.
- Do I have a self-improvement mindset? Your mindset will ultimately determine how much effort you put into working on your goals. For example, if you believe that circumstances happen to you – for whatever the reason – this can create a resistant disposition towards your self-improvement. A more productive mindset to develop is one of acceptance, which means that you are in control of your outcomes. Once you view your progress from that perspective, or at least your future actions, you need to then itemize your strengths and areas of needed development.
- What is my attitude about my progress? Every job has value and provides an opportunity to learn, even if you are utilizing the same skills and performing the same duties each day. Your attitude can either assist you (if you believe you are in control of your career) or create a barrier (if you feel helpless and have no control over what takes place). When it comes to your career it is important to remember that you always have a choice as to what you can do or should do. If you maintain a positive attitude it will help to improve your outlook and outcomes in the long run.
- What do I believe about my own potential? One of the most damaging things you can do to your career development, and it is something you need to constantly be on the lookout for, is to accept any form of negative self-talk, fear, or self-doubt. There are certain to be times when you may question a decision you’ve made or an action you have taken; however, the key to maintaining progress is not dwelling on those questions. Self-doubt can minimize your belief in a capacity to learn or change. While you may be thinking about negative consequences, ask yourself why you would allow yourself to continue with that focus. It can only slow you down and create a self-imposed limitation. In order to make progress in your career, believe in your potential and ability to reach your goals.
Time to Make Changes
The benefit of conducting a self-analysis is to gain a clearer picture of your career and develop a long term view, which can help you become focused on future possibilities rather than immediate circumstances. Then you can evaluate your current position from a developmental perspective, considering your desired next step or series of steps and what you will need to do to work towards completing those short term goals. This also helps you determine if in fact you are being held back and if so, you will not allow it to create negativity and instead you can become proactive. It may be a result of not making progress, not being adequately prepared, or having a job that is not aligned with your career plan. More than likely some form of change is needed and that is what you need to pinpoint to begin to move forward and relieve any feelings of frustration. For example, you may determine after completion of your analysis that the only way you can move forward is to make a change in your job duties, move to a different department, or find another job altogether. No matter what you decide after your evaluation, you will find it helpful to determine what changes or improvements you can begin to work on starting now.
Act with Confidence and Purpose
Some people have a need to do something in order to feel that they are gaining control of their career while others use current conditions or circumstances to dictate their actions. Being proactive and waiting for the perfect conditions can create long-term delays and analysis paralysis, while reactively and emotionally responding to intolerable circumstances may create negative feelings of desperation, frustration, anger, or hopelessness. What makes matters worse, from a perspective of your attitude and mindset, is finding out that the actions taken have not produced the desired results or produced acceptable outcomes. In contrast, if you are afraid to act due to some form of fear that can also intentionally hold you back from experiencing the progress you want to make. The challenge for many then becomes a matter of knowing when and how to act.
You will likely find that when you have a well-defined career plan, one you have described through a series of steps, you are developing a stronger self-awareness about your abilities and capabilities. This renewed self-confidence will allow you to monitor your progress as you work towards completion of short term and long term goals, and you view action from a perspective of making carefully guided progress. With a future focus you know where your career is headed, what you are learning along the way, and what is needed to support your purposeful steps forward. If you discover that your job tasks or circumstances are beyond what you can change, you know that it is time to redirect your effort to a more productive path. When you maintain this future focus you can prevent yourself from feeling that your career is stuck and not progressing. This will help you to sustain a positive attitude with a concern for self-improvement and ongoing professional self-development.
About the Author:
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson has developed expertise with adult learning through advanced education in the field of adult education, along with his work as an instructional designer, online educator, college instructor, professional writer, published author, and corporate trainer. Dr. J has been involved in teaching online and on-ground classes, curriculum development, and online faculty development.
To learn more about Dr. J’s work as a professional resume writer, please visit:http://tinyurl.com/qgaym29
Dr. J has authored the following publications:
Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning: Appreciative inquiry has been translated by Dr. J for use in online classes as an instructional strategy. This is useful for academic and workforce educators, and applicable to any class or subject. Order your autographed copy today:http://tinyurl.com/k667q3x
Be Prepared to Teach Online: Strategies from an Online College Professor:The topics in this book include adult learning basics, developing a virtual presence, feedback and grading basics, developing a supportive mindset, online instruction basics, plus much more. Purchase your copy today and consider it to be an investment in your ongoing professional development. http://tinyurl.com/lr9a96a
Skills and Strategies Online Students Need: Written by an Online College Professor: This is a collection of the basics needed to succeed as an online student. There are seven chapters in this book: online basics, learning and outcomes, a virtual school, communication, emotional intelligence, performance, and motivation. http://tinyurl.com/m8fha5f
Discover Your Personal Best through a Positive Mindset Tune Up: This is a book that does not have to be read from cover to cover. It is meant to inspire you and help to distract your thoughts when there are moments of doubt, fear, or questions. This book will help you tune up your mindset and stay focused on discovering your personal best. http://tinyurl.com/ob3q9e5