Are you feeling stuck, sidetracked, or unfocused? Try the following career tips to get you back on the right track.
Take the long view of your career. Very often people are only looking at the present, and they are not thinking about the future. Sometimes people take jobs that pay more in the short run but have no real potential. For example, I have met many legal secretaries with college degrees who didn’t really want to be working in that field, but the pay was good, so they took the job. Unless they are willing to take a cut in pay to move into a field with more potential, it is not likely that they will advance beyond their current positions as legal secretaries.
Get professional help if a personal situation is affecting your career. People often lose focus when they are confronted with challenging life situations such as divorce or death. I had a client who was actually on the verge of losing her job because her home situation was spilling over into her work life and she wasn’t able to focus on her job and do her work. In such cases people usually need professional help to work through their issues so that their personal issues do not turn into professional issues.
If you are frustrated, identify the root of that frustration and then take the appropriate action. Is it the boss, the type of work, or the environment that is getting to you?. If the source of frustration is the boss, you should try to see what you can change about the situation (i.e., try to encourage better communication and/or understand why the boss acts the way (s)he does). If it is a completely unworkable situation, then you need to try to find other opportunities within the organization with another boss that you are compatible with, and if that isn’t possible, then you should look outside the organization for other employment.
If your frustration lies in the actual work that you are required to perform, then you should try to identify careers that would be fulfilling by taking career assessments. Then of course you need to develop a game plan for moving into a new field. A career coach can help in this type of situation.
If the environment on the job is frustrating, then you should identify what in the environment is making you miserable. Is it the culture of the organization, co-workers, or even the physical environment? Again, you should look at what can be changed vs. what cannot and determine if a job search is in order.
If fear is holding you back, remind yourself of past successes and set yourself up for future success. One suggestion is to first of all identify previous successes. If you have been asked to take on high profile projects in the past, more than likely you have been successful on previous projects. Reflecting on what you did right before can give you courage to take on something challenging in the future.
Also, to set yourself up for success, you can try to find mentors, inside and/or outside of the organization, who have a wealth of experience in the field who can give you guidance on high profile projects. Mentors who want to assist proteges will be happy to help the proteges succeed. After all, the protege’s success is the mentor’s success.
In addition, think about how you will assess yourself in the future. If you don’t want to look back with deep regrets about your life, you will have to take some risks to achieve what you want.
I also suggest that people find supporters who will cheer them on along the way. Having someone in your corner who believes in you and your abilities can go a long way in helping you face any fears you have about moving forward in your career.
And people who are fearful may also want to work with a career coach who will hold them accountable and help them work through their fears.
If you are starting out in a new field, identify your career goals and find people who will support you. It may be helpful to work with a professional to identify your career goals and break them down into short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. As a career coach, I assist clients with also identifying potential obstacles that may impede their progress towards their goals and help them brainstorm ways to overcome those obstacles. For those who are starting in a new field, I again recommend finding mentors who can give you guidance.
Keep your resume updated. You never know when an opportunity may come up unexpectedly, and you need to be ready for it.
Maintain a record of your accomplishments as you go from job to job. This will help you with keeping the resume current.
Keep in touch with your network. It’s an embarrassing feeling to try to revive your network when you need a job if you haven’t kept in touch with people over time. Make it a point to touch base with people in your network at least once a quarter or so.
Mentor someone else. If your job feels humdrum and you feel like you could do it with your eyes closed, but it’s not feasible for you to look for greener pastures at this time, you might consider mentoring someone who is less experienced in the field to pass along what you have learned over the years. You might also look at taking on collateral duties (i.e., chairing a committee or getting cross-trained in a new area) so that you can do something new without leaving your present position.
Cheryl Palmer is a Certified Executive Career Coach and Certified Professional Resume Writer of Call to Career, a professional career coaching and resume writing firm based in Silver Spring, MD.