The #1 Secret to Getting Unstuck in your Career

Fear

Being or feeling ‘stuck’ in your career is an uncomfortable place to be at best.  

You’ve probably lost track of the amount of time you’ve wasted contemplating what do next, or how to get unstuck. Worse still, you might turn your attention to all the reasons you’re stuck and spiral into a blame game, or feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how you’re going to get out of the rut you find yourself. 

Not exactly jolly stuff is it? 

Let me share with you the single biggest thing that I see in people who feel stuck in their career. 

Fear. 

It’s not necessarily obvious at first because fear can wear many faces. Take a look at the list below and see if you recognise any of these statements……

  • I’ve worked here a long time, I know I’m onto a good thing
  • So many people made changes in their career for it to not work out 
  • I should be grateful for what I have, it’s not so bad after all
  • All the rest of my life is in good shape, work doesn’t matter that much
  • I really enjoy my work life balance, that’s more important than a new challenge right now
  • I’m too (insert adjective….old, young, experienced, introverted, extroverted, niched)
  • I like the people here and that’s really important to me
  • There are worse things to be than stuck. At least I’m not unemployed. 

I could write more but you get the jist. 

And you know what I hear when I hear these statements. 

Fear and more Fear. 

And that’s OK. 

When faced with making a change, fear is a normal, healthy emotion to feel.

It encourages you to think carefully about your options and to not make any rash decisions which you may regret later. 

But fear is less healthy when it leads you to stay stuck rather than taking action. 

All the while you are focused on your ‘stucknesss’ you’re not looking in the right place for you to get unstuck.  And that’s without judgement by the way….it’s not easy to see things objectively when you’re in the thick of an existential crisis!!!  

So how do overcome being stuck? 

You’ve got to look fear in the face and work out what the real problem is. Only then can you start to tackle the challenge with the right strategies. 

Still not convinced it’s fear keeping you stuck? 

Let’s look at what the fears could be. 

1. Fear of Failure

When you step outside of your comfort zone, your skills and abilities are untested. AND if you’re a high achiever, chances are your goals are set a long way outside of your comfort zone. 

You may be confident and ambitious but inside there may also lurk a voice that whispers ‘but can you really do it?” “Wouldn’t it be safer if we just stayed put?”

Check out my earlier blog on fear of failure if this one is familiar to you. How to Overcome a Fear Of Failure – Failing is just learning

2. Loss of identity

When you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing for a long time, it becomes part of who you are. Perhaps you see yourself as an employee of your specific company, or a business owner, or a leader. 

If you make changes to do something else, it may lead you doubt yourself. This is very common with people leaving vocational roles. GP’s, Military, Doctors, Police Officers. Service easily becomes part of who you are – who are you if you are not public servant? 

You wouldn’t necessarily ask yourself this question but from experience I expect you have thoughts such as “I’m not sure how I feel about not being X, it’s been a big part of my life for so long….”

But, you don’t have to be a public servant to have these thoughts. They can be attached to any part of our identity. 

3. Fear of missing out

What of you make the wrong choice? It might be better where you are after all? What if you don’t like the new role you go for? If you take this opportunity and another one comes up, what would you do then?

Welcome to fear of missing out. You can become paralysed by options

4. Fear of being judged. 

What will people think of me? 

It’s easy to get caught up in what you think people may think of you based on the decisions you make.

These are just a few of the fears that I see in clients all of the time, and when you’re trying to make changes, naming your fears is the first step you can do to get unstuck. After that it’s all down to action. 

So what’s next? 

1. How real is your fear?

Look at the fears again? Many of them are not real. 

Failure – what is that anyway? 

Identity – you will always have your experience, you’ve always been that person. Changing what you do doesn’t change who you are. 

Missing out – OK I’ll give you this one. If you make a choice, you most likely will miss out on the options you disregard BUT the fear is irrelevant since you can never predict the future. 

Being judged – we can not know what people think of us and even if we did chances are you have little idea about whose judgements it is exactly you’re afraid of. 

Examining your fear with an objective eye can shed new light onto your story. It may not make the change any easier, but you can go into it with open eyes. 

2. Recognise that courage is a natural part of learning

There is nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s normal, everyone experiences it and as I said earlier, it can be really useful. 

Fear’s antidote is courage. 

To achieve anything of importance in our lives we need a healthy dose of courage. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means that you have the fear but work through it and take the necessary action. 

The question to ask yourself isn’t how do you get rid of the fear but how do I find the courage? AND “how do I need to be supported?”

3. Get practical to stop being stuck

There will be those of you reading this who are pragmatic, action takers, and whilst all of this sounds great, you need something more practical. Well this one is for you.

Scenario plan. 

What is your worst and best case scenario? Faced with these what would that mean for your life? How can you mitigate the risks? 

Again, it may not make you any less afraid but you can reassure yourself that you have thought through many possible eventualities. 

4. Break your goal down and plan a health dose of setback. 

A trait many high achievers share is that ability to set big goals and to be really clear about what success might look like. 

What this usually means is that the expectations are ridiculously high. The goal can feel so big and so impossible that it blinds you from taking step 1. 

Want to leave the corporate world and start a 7-figure empire. Great – how about we start with your website. 

Fancy jacking everything in to become an environmental campaigner and arctic explorer. Amazing, let’s start by booking your course in Nordic walking.

Perhaps closer to home….

Want a promotion but are unsure if you’re ready? Instead of focusing on the promotion and whether you’ll get it or not, let’s start by having a conversation with your line manager. 

5. Cut ties to the outcome

No -one can guarantee you’ll achieve your goals. Any coach that tells you otherwise is misleading you. 

If you can learn to cut ties to the outcome all you have left to focus on are your actions and your results. And it is through your diligent, determined and focused action that you will see the results you crave. 

You can control how you act, the decisions you make, the behaviours you use. You can act with integrity and live aligned to your values, but you cannot guarantee whether you will…secure the promotion – get the pay rise – become an award winning consultant – achieve your directorship – make your first million. 

Once you accept that, much of the fear falls into perspective

GOOD LUCK!

Take a look at my other blogs here for more inspiration or sign up for my blog below and get tips like these delivered to your inbox weekly.

I’m not suggesting that any of this is easy to do but with a little bit of help you’ll be smashing your goals in no time (but I can’t guarantee that of course 😉

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