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Editorial
4 Simple Hacks That'll Pull You Out Of Your Career Rut
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Kelly Poulson image
Kelly Poulson

That’s it. You know you have to do something. Every time Sunday rolls around, you start to feel that knot in the pit of your stomach — that feeling sometimes referred to as the “Sunday scaries.” That feeling of dread that overcomes you when you think about starting another week at work in your current role.

It can be a little different for everyone. Some people can’t stand their boss. Some love the people they work with but hate the role. Others hate nothing but love nothing and wonder if that’s any way to their life — without inspiration or passion, or even motivation.

This is all perfectly normal. You aren’t alone in these feelings. However, life is short. It’s not worth feeling stuck every day or miserable every week on Sunday. The fact of the matter is, you don’t have to! It’s a choice. Even if it doesn’t always feel like one. Getting out of a rut — whether a mental rut or a career rut — is possible, but it takes work. Are you ready? I’m willing to bet you are. Let’s get going.

1. Take stock. Figuring out how to get out of a rut takes time, and you’ll need to start by taking stock of your current situation and routine, as well as your ideas and goals for how to focus on something new.

Where do you stand in all of this? I mean, what matters most to you in life? Often, people are merely going through the motions and are afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. We find a job, it works well for a while and pays the bills. It morphs into something else, but we think, why rock the boat?

It will get better eventually, we tell ourselves. We forget to exercise our mind and check in with how we feel. What values do you place above all else and where do they show up in work for you? Are you regularly doing work that supports them or are you constantly being asked to compromise on what’s most important to you? If you’re constantly feeling miserable at work, what makes you feel that way?

Taking the time to dig deep and think through all of this is immensely valuable and can bring us clarity on how to move forward. You can do this in so many ways. Grab a bottle of wine and your bestie and take a values assessment online. Meditate or take a yoga class for some clairty. Whiteboard it out with your favorite playlist blaring. Work with a coach. Talk to a mentor. In theory, it’s simple to do but simple doesn’t mean easy. There’s no shame in seeking out help.

2. Look back to move forward.  What got you into this work to begin with? Think about the work you’ve loved doing. (at this job or prior) What was it? You could even go way back. What did you love doing as a child? Or in school? Finding work that lights you up might have shown up way earlier than we realize and we forget about it.

Once identified, is there a way you might be able to emphasize doing more of that work in your current role? If you were honest with your manager about what type of work you find most engaging and how important it is to you to do more of it, one of two things could happen. They help create more opportunities for you or they don’t rise to the occasion. Either way, that makes your path forward a little clearer.

3. Are you the common denominator? Ok. So you’re feeling blah in work. Are you also feeling that way with your family and friends? Stuck-ery (yes, that’s my new technical term) can impact us all over the place. Before you automatically assume a career change will equal a life change, notice how you’re showing up in the other realms of your life. If it seems to be an issue that’s far reaching, what might that mean? Maybe you’re burnt out. Maybe you need to be prioritizing taking care of yourself.

You know the drill: eat right, exercise, sleep, breathe. If you start to prioritize your own health and welfare, things might start to look up at work. Often when we’re beat and not taking care of ourselves, we can be tired and cranky and not see opportunities right in front of us. It’s like the opposite of rose colored glasses. Let’s remove those negative specs and feel better about it all. *This is not to make light of medical issues like depression. If this is something you think you may be struggling with, seek the appropriate treatment to heal.

4. Be Curious. If you’ve been skilled at self care from the get go or have conquered that beast recently, now it’s time to begin noticing more and more. If you’re not getting to do the type of work you enjoy regularly, ask for more of it. Find ways to do it outside of work. Spend time with people who dig the same type of things. Find your tribe and nerd out with them as often as possible.

Sometimes, merely doing this work reignites you to move beyond those stuck feelings. And if during exploration you realize that you truly do need to make change, ask this new & awesome network you’ve built to help out. Where do they work? What do they do? Might they be aware of any opportunities that could align with what’s most important to you? Building your network is a win win. It will someday lead to opportunities even if it’s not always immediate or even work related.

Now that you’ve been so thoughtful about figuring out what’s going on with you and what you’d like to be doing next, don’t stop there! It’s time to take action. Moving towards what it is you want can be scary. That’s ok. Change in life can be scary but it can also be amazing. Not moving forward is also a choice. But chances are, that’s one factor that lead you to feeling stuck in the first place. Talking to your boss about what’s frustrating can be scary but so is not doing anything about it and spending the next 2, 5 or 10 years of your life feeling meh or miserable.

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Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at www.kellypoulson.com.

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