Karen Darrin

With the U.S. economy on solid footing, American workers may be feeling better about their career prospects, but most aren’t thrilled with their actual jobs. In fact, two-thirds are disengaged at work, or worse, according to a new Gallup study on the American workplace.

Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work — meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum.

If you can relate, you’re in good company with many of my clients who are wondering how they managed to get stuck in a career rut and how they can get out of it. As a professional development coach, I work with many professionals who are not satisfied with where they work. They want to change but don’t know how or are afraid of losing that reliable paycheck and bennies.  But I can tell you, with the proper planning, support and mindset, it is worth climbing out of that ditch into something you are enthusiastic about.

How to climb out of a career rut:

  1. Ditch the denial and recognize when you’re burnt out or bored stiff.  Do not ignore these signals. Realize that “doing nothing” is a decision and your feelings of malaise will only intensify and begin seeping into how you treat yourself and others. No one wants to work beside a Negative Ned/Nellie.
  2. Fear of change will come with the territory so be ready with some established strategies to help you “feel the fear but do it anyway.” Consider: a respected person who will hold you accountable, a trusted mentor who has already been through a career transition, or professional career coach. For inspiration, read Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” You are the hero here and there is an establish cycle of feelings and challenges you will go through. Be ready.
  3. Search inside yourself to find your next career chapter. Your mix of talents, strengths, skills, and tendencies are one-of-a-kind. Where do you want to make an impact? What do you love to do and where would you like to do it? Now is the time to live those dreams you have been burying. Life is short.
  4. Clarify your values.  Values change over time. Make sure that you are aligning your life and career to what matters most to you right now. There are numerous free tools to help you clarify your values and their priority.  Here is one to get you started:  Life Values Inventory.  Do not skip this step. You may be surprised with what you uncover.
  5. Study your past experiences – hen were you energized and when did you feel drained with your work? Those moments are clues pointing to what brings you purpose and meaning. What was it about those moments that made is so engaging (or draining) for you? Extract those qualities so you can focus on finding them again (or staying far away.)
  6. Brainstorm with peers, family, friends, or a coach on how you can best use your talents, align with your values and unique contributions. Think beyond the employee category.  Would contract work best suit your new life style?  Or, has being entrepreneur always been in the back of your mind?
  7. Fear is your new friend.  There is a difference between fear – “I am going to fail and end up living in my car!” and fear — “There is a saber-tooth tiger chasing me!”   Get to know how those two kinds of fear feel in your body. Fear of change can invigorate you, if you accept the feelings and push forward anyway. Be brave. Step into your new or revitalized career choice, despite the your fears.

The bottom line is to develop a clear vision of what you want and make your career choices carefully. Talking to peers, friends, family, mentors and career coaches can help you to achieve your career objectives. Create the life you want. There won’t be a better time than now.

NOTE:  Are you in a career rut? Let me help you get clear on how to move forward. Schedule a complimentary Breakthrough Session here: Free Consult or contact me at karen@karendarrin.com. Let’s get started!

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