Sometimes you sit at your desk and think: “Blah. Get me out of here.”
And then there are those times where you would pay someone a million dollars AND your first born child just to get into a new job or a new career.
I was once the latter person. After grad school, I became a successful consultant in a big firm. Every time I got promoted, I convinced myself to stay just a little tiny bit longer. I couldn't seem to let go of the money or the job title, and so I found myself completely stuck in my career.
I wanted to make a change, knowing something wasn’t right. I decided that if anything was going to change, I had to make it simple. This became a three-step plan, my “unstuck plan,” and my hope is that it’ll help you if you’re feeling a bit career stuck.
1. I talked to people.
I’d been talking to anyone and everyone about why what I was doing sucked. Since this wasn’t helping get me unstuck, I switched gears. I started talking to people in my industry (consulting), outside of my industry but in areas of interest (peace studies), and in random jobs that sounded interesting to me (professors).
Some of the conversations gave me insights about myself or new fields to pursue. Some were just plain motivating. Whatever the outcome, I felt like I was making some progress. I was beginning to understand my options and understand myself — two critical understandings I’d lacked before I started talking about the right things.
Tips for how to start talking:
- Make a list of people you know and find interesting in your network
- Go and talk to them about what they do and why they do it. Have coffee, lunch, or drinks, but do it in person and have some fun.
Armed with this list and these conversations, my next step was to start acting on what I’d discovered.
2. I tried new things.
I decided the only way to figure out what I wanted to do was to actually try things out on the side while I still enjoyed my generous consulting salary. So I started a blog with a friend and tried out being a blog owner and writer. I learned a lot in those first two years about myself and what I liked (and didn’t). I also made tons of connections and realized that I wanted to do something that offered a specific service — blogging alone wouldn’t cut it.
Tips for trying new things:
- Sign up for a new social or networking event and commit to talking to a few new people. You never know when that unexpected opportunity comes at you from your new friend Julie from happy hour.
- Learn a new skill, small or large. New skills add to what we currently do and open the door to the future.
After I started talking to people and trying new things, I realized I still had a few sticking points. There was only one action that would get me the results I wanted.
3. I asked for help.
I realized, after trying blogging, shoe designing and other wacky things, that I wanted to start my own business. I just didn’t know where to begin. So I decided to take the next step and get professional help that was tailored for me. I chose to sign up for a coaching program, which ended up giving me the answers for what to do next in my career. It doesn't have to be coaching, though. You can do anything: Read a book, take an online course, take a certification course, talk to a mentor, or buy a bottle of wine for friends.
Tips for asking for help:
- Identify someone specific that you can ask for help. A friend, coworker, career coach, mentor. You’ve got someone in your network. It’s time to reach out!
- Identify one person or organization who has a book or blog that you like or need, and start following them and learning from them.
For me, talking to people led me to trying new things like blogging, and blogging lead me to discover the joys of business ownership and build a strong network. Getting expert help pushed me over that last hurdle of “What business? And how?” and into a becoming a career coach — a profession that challenges me, fulfills me, and makes me get out of bed feeling alive every day, because I get to help people like you get unstuck and into a job they love.
And knowing that you will wake up and actually feel great for a change? Well, that's pretty awesome too.
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