Feeling like you’re stuck doesn’t mean you always need to make a radical change. Feeling stuck can come simply from not seeing available options to feel free to make a choice.
It’s easy to get stuck. So busy just getting through each day, that you didn’t have a chance to look up. Maybe there was enough else to deal with over the past couple of years that you didn’t have the energy or certainty to worry about where you were headed. But once you’ve asked the question, “is this where I want to be”, it can be near impossible to unthink it.
Was your response to “is this where I want to be” I don’t know or I think I need something else? If yes, the first step is to just pause. By taking time to pause, you can avoid making a panicked decision. Feeling stuck can be from not only feeling like you lack options, but more often, options are unknown because they haven’t yet been fully explored.
Is this the right vehicle?
No matter what you want your career and life to look like, know the right vehicle to facilitate getting there. The right vehicle may be the size and profile of the organisation, it may be that they have the resources and brains to be at the cutting edge of your industry, it may be the leadership of your organisation and their investment in your development. Whatever your path, regularly assess whether it’s still the market, industry, or organisation culture that is going to facilitate the career and life that you want.
Another option is to create your own vehicle. If you have the urge to build your own business, it can be hugely satisfying and rewarding, but know it will take longer and have greater risk.
Are there options with your current employer, that you haven’t explored?
Too often people will look externally before fully exhausting opportunities where they already are. Whether you want development, flexibility, or progression, have you asked the right question to the right people? By asking, you can find out if the organisation is invested in your future, whether the decision makers see your potential and whether you are aligned with the leadership and culture. A conversation at the right time, can open up a fresh pathway within your current employer. If the conversation highlights that you’re not aligned, celebrate that being able to close off options, can be just as powerful.
Have you checked your blindspots?
Sometimes, we can get stuck through our own making. Have you become the ‘go to’ person in your team, so that management can’t afford to move you? Does your internal dialogue talk negatively about people you work with? (You think it’s a secret but people pick up the vibe). Do conversations with colleagues often feel combative? Getting stuck can happen when our behaviour either becomes ‘too valuable’ to change or behaviour becomes dysfunctional within the team to change. It’s important to ask for regular feedback and be open to understanding how people are experiencing you.
Apart from the external elements in our career, anxiety can also play a role in feeling stuck. Ruminating and a cycle of thoughts, fears and behaviour, can create a sense of being stuck. If you feel anxiety is the underlying cause to feeling stuck, there are resources available from credible organisations such as Beyond Blue or consider seeking professional help.
Knowing where you want to be and options available is never a waste, even if it leads you to be exactly where you are.