Feeling stuck in your career, you’re not alone as the majority of workers have been found feeling in a rut when it comes to their career and future job prospects.
In a survey conducted by American multinational technology corporation, Oracle, researchers found that more than 75% of surveyed employees feel stuck, both personally and professionally.
Challenges that presented themselves during the early months of the pandemic led to millions quitting their jobs in droves, which would later become known as The Great Resignation. Fast-forward a few years, and we see a new workplace trend – quiet quitting – leaving many employers uncertain over whether employees are dissatisfied with their jobs or if they’ve perhaps hit a wall in their career path.
In two separate studies, it was found that around 20% of American workers have already changed career paths, while a secondary survey revealed that 46% of respondents were considering a career change in the coming year.
Work-related challenges, ranging from financial well-being to executive leadership, career growth, and work-life balance are all contributing to the growing list of reasons employees feel that they are entering, or are already in a career rut.
The tight labor market has seen employers battling to attract and retain staff, as employees are continuously leaving positions in hopes of landing a suitable job that can offer them the perks and benefits they have been yearning for.
Although these opportunities are available, albeit, in the most difficult of places, it doesn’t resolve the issue of whether employees who are feeling stuck – personally or professionally – will be able to successfully change career paths.
Navigating the challenges that come with changing career paths, especially if you’re feeling as if you’ve fallen into a career rut can be stressful. While the transition takes time to get used to, it’s important to consider several things that can help make the process feel more enjoyable and exciting at the same time.
Let’s jump in.
Consider Your Wants Vs Your Needs
A good foundation to start with is to consider your career ‘wants’ and your career ‘needs.’ Start by thinking of the daily pain points that you are currently experiencing in your job or career, and start writing this down. Being able to identify the cause of why you’re feeling stuck or in a rut can help to start clearing the air.
Considering the ‘wants’ usually includes the things you would enjoy seeing changing in the near future. This may include things such as a raise, having to take on more responsibility, or even leading team projects.
On the other hand, when you look at your ‘needs’ these are things that require immediate attention, and in some cases can be regarded as non-negotiable for your career. Needs tend to include things such as obtaining a previously promised promotion or having a better work-life balance.
Look at how your job needs are being met, and whether your employer is open to talking about some of the pain points in an effort to help you grow within your current role and career.
Examine your career values
There is a stark difference between being stuck in a job and stuck in a career, and differentiating between the two starts by examining what your career values are.
As you start the process of transition, consider how your passion for something can drive you to a suitable career. There are different things we value in life, and this can have a direct impact on our careers, and how successful they turn out to be.
Let’s say for example you enjoy working with people, and finding a solution to their problems. Have you perhaps considered starting a business, being a real estate manager, offering counseling, or becoming an affiliate marketer? Maybe you enjoy delivering actionable results that you can see and experience first-hand. Perhaps you are more creative and have more artistic values, how can this coincide with the possibility of a completely new career?
Jot down some ideas, and take the time to think of all the things in your personal life you find valuable. Through this, you can start looking in the direction you would like to move before making a final decision on changing career paths.
Network with link-minded professionals
Once you are aware of your career needs and have taken the time to examine your values, it’s time to start talking and networking with like-minded professionals.
The best way to go about this is to use your social network and to find out which people are either working in a similar field or have expertise on the desired career path.
When you start talking to other people about your possible change, you will be able to get better insight and what to expect. On top of this, talking to those within the field can help guide you through the ins and outs which you haven’t previously considered.
If you don’t necessarily have or know of someone that you can talk to, consider taking part in informational interviews, or joining a workshop that can help reveal the inner workings of a seemingly unknown world.
It’s important to network with an open mind as well and to be open to the idea of being challenged or having to change the way you think of career aspects, it’s best to test the waters, before diving in head first.
Create a strategy
As you begin to build more insight around the possibility of a new career, start setting up a strategy or game plan that you can follow. Be realistic about your goals, and how you are going to achieve them. Your strategy should be focused on what you want to do, and how you are going to do it.
Let’s say you want to change your career from being an executive manager to becoming a pastry chef. Consider the type of qualifications you may need to fulfill the duties of being a pastry chef and how long it will take you to hone those skills. More so, where will you be able to learn these new skills, and what will it take you to enroll? All of these and other questions should be part of the goal which helps to build the strategy.
Building your strategy will require you to think of the direction you’re looking to transition into, and choose something that excites you. Once you know what that is or may be, start by laying out the foundations of achieving that goal through evaluating your skills, networking with other professionals, improving your knowledge, and researching possible job roles.
Make your move and reflect
Thinking of changing careers is one thing, but having to do it is a whole different ball game in itself. Although the transition has slowly already begun – the day you started feeling stuck – you now need to take the leap and start aligning your needs and values with the career path that excites you.
For you to self-advocate, you will need to start doing, rather than thinking and planning. While there is no standard time frame by which you need to complete the process, it’s best to not be hard on yourself at first. Make your move and reflect on it later to see whether it was the right decision.
If you feel as if you’re moving in a straight line, then you’re not growing, and neither are you finding viable ways to remove yourself from the situation. It seems a bit daunting at first being flung around like that, but through these actions, you will be able to reflect and draw a conclusion.
Constantly theorizing or planning won’t give you the change you desire if you don’t start doing it or taking that leap.
Although we once thoroughly enjoyed the pace and excitement of the career we currently hold, there will come a time when the feeling of euphoria starts to fade, and the harsh realities of your career hit you out of the blue.
Changing jobs is one thing, but changing careers is completely changing who you thought to once be, and re-evaluating the things you once found interesting. It’s a confusing time, but instead of stressing over whether you will succeed or not will only leave you feeling more anxious, leading you to completely detach yourself from the idea.
Instead of thinking of it as changing your career, rather consider it a change in scenery, closing one chapter in your life and starting something completely new – again.
Written by Jacob Wolinsky.
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