Sometimes your career might feel a little stagnant. It might be due to circumstance, management, or even mind-set. Here is how you can boost a career.
Do you feel like your career has hit a roadblock, a rut you are having a hard time breaking away from? No one can expect to have a long, fruitful career without their fair share of failures. Even the visionary Elon Musk has had many ebbs and peaks during his meteoric rise. Even his call to grace, Tesla Motors, was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2008. Musk, while still a student at Stanford, applied for a job at Netscape but was never contacted so he went to the company’s corporate offices, resume in hand and sat in the lobby. At the last moment though he left without speaking to anyone.
But, what can you do if you are experiencing a career slump? Well, there are quite a few things you can do, some are as simple as changing your outlook regarding your position, and other methods are a bit more involved and require a little homework. Here are some simple tricks to boost your career.
I understand that changing your perspective for a career-boost might seem like something ripped straight from the surface of a motivational poster featuring a flying eagle, but the truth is that it works. It works in sales, it works in marketing and most importantly it works when it comes to getting out of a career rut. Language is a powerful thing and negative language can have a profound effect on both mentality and mood. Instead of thinking that you are stuck in some sort of “rut” or career stagnation think about it as a pivot point in your career.
If you have hit a roadblock chances are it's due to certain unfavourable circumstances; complacency, need for a new skill or update of knowledge or friction within your team. The great thing about acquiring a new skill or updating a skillset is that it might kill two birds with one stone. This is especially true if you learn a new skill that could result in you changing positions within your organisation, thus transferring you to a new team without the internal conflict.
You can also see a career bottleneck as a transitional period, a mid-career quiet before the storm if you will. Quite often career ruts are experienced between plateaus of upward mobility. People frequently experience them after the entry level ebb, mid-career and right before entering middle management and once again before they are promoted into senior management. Don’t become stuck in perpetual anticipation of moving up, though; it might be a sign that you should move on, especially if you feel that your rut is actually you growing out of your organisation. It might simply just be that your current company doesn’t have enough available positions to continue promoting you.
Whenever you are feeling frustrated, disgruntled or burnt out, you need to investigate why you have these feelings. Are your negative feelings “environmental” or “personal”, i.e. is it due to conflicts within you team, a result of ineffectual management or deficient leadership or is it due to personal circumstances and psychology? Once you find the root of your discontent, you can find a solution, if a solution is feasible!
In the case of interpersonal conflict, you can refer directly to the individuals that seem to create these, the same goes for middle management. Unfortunately, if your problem is with upper and senior management the problem might be irreparable and an indication that you need to move on.
On a personal level, your investigation might be a little more challenging, because you need to find out what motivated you at the beginning and what has changed since then. Of course, this is easy when reviewing a short period of time, but once you try reviewing seven, five or even three years, these variables and changes (both personal and professional) increase exponentially.
Ultimately though no matter how laborious and challenging assessing your situation may be, it will be instrumental in trying to break out of your rut.
If the problems that are plaguing you are interpersonal, then for the sake of your sanity, it might just be worth giving in to the things that seem to bother you. If you have a supervisor that prohibits water cooler congregation, just give in. This holds especially true if you enjoy your job and would like to keep it. On the other hand, if you are unhappy in general at your workplace and have interpersonal conflicts with co-workers, then it might be a better and less painful option to try to find another job.
Giving in is not giving up, it’s actually compromising and any dynamic be it personal or professional requires compromise to work. Although you might feel like you are bending to other people’s will, in actuality, you are making your life easier through diplomacy. It’s all a matter of perspective. Joking aside though, conflict resolution is a valuable soft skill for both employees and management alike. If you are having issues with anyone in your professional sphere, then make it a personal goal to amend and smooth over these frictions. It might be challenging and frustrating at points, but if you accomplish it, not only will you have one less person to butt heads with, you will also feel accomplished for doing so.
Risk - Reward
Ultimately being in a rut is closely tied to complacency. You might be comfortable and still be unhappy at work. If you feel under-implemented and under-employed, you might need to talk to your supervisor and ask for more responsibilities. If you feel that a lack of growth is stifling you both emotionally and professionally, then you can either enrol in a university class, or you can even take some free online courses in web design, graphic design and programming. This will not only fulfil your need for personal enrichment but acquiring skills outside your normal set of skills might also benefit you on a professional level.
Making yourself more visible might be another way to put yourself outside your comfort zone. Although you might be more closely supervised/scrutinised your efforts and initiatives won’t go unseen. Increasing your visibility within your company might even increase your chance of leading a project, or if you’re lucky leading an entire team.
Ultimately though the highest risk comes with the biggest reward, and the biggest risk is leaving a job you are unhappy but comfortable in. You might lose your stable income, the comfort of a set list of responsibilities and the relationships you have established with your coworkers, but ultimately a different workplace could bring with it a renewed interest in your job. Better yet it could even bring a better and faster track for promotion, an increase in salary and new knowledge. You will be accosted with new challenges, new potential for growth and development of your already acquired skills.
Did I leave anything out? Is there something that you would recommend to someone looking to boost their career? Let us know in the comment section below.
See Also: How To Successfully Change Your Career