3 ways to shift when you feel stuck in a rut
With half year and financial year end season upon us, performance reviews are a hot topic.
It provides a time to reflect your achievements, discuss how you can grow and what ‘next steps’ could be to shape your career further.
The sad reality for many, is this time is usually treated as a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise. The conversation quality is reliant on how serious your line manager views guiding his team to grow, improve, expand and develop – as active verbs versus being nouns.
Regardless of a company’s systems used to grade their people, bell curve the scores to determine if you’re “average, good or star” talent – you own your career.
It’s up to you to actively take charge of it and shape it into the direction you want it to go.
If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut – use this 3 exercises to reflect what you’d like to shift and start a different conversation.
1. Notice and name the ‘stuckness’
When we feel stuck, it’s hard to see a way forward. The context of language is powerful and ‘stuck’ narrows our thinking to the point we feel that we cannot many options around us.
This is because the negativity of ‘stuck’ triggers our lizard brain which is our flight/fight response and we operate from a survival level, rather than a thriving space.
Pause and play around the fringes of the word ‘stuck’.
What does it feel like? Describe its shape. Where does it sit in your body? How is it letting you live more of – or less of the life you want to lead?
These questions help open up your thinking to see that feeling ‘stuck’ may not be related to no immediate career progression prospects that you’ve been wanting for some time. It could be a mindset, a mismatch of skill to job requirements.
Now that you’ve teased out a string from the tightly-wrapped ball of ‘stuckness’ – let see what you can do with it.
2. Focus on what you can control
Feeling stuck and overwhelmed comes from All The Stuff going on around us.
Changes in the company, projects extended or paused, budget changes, the never-ending cost cutting conversation – the list goes on.
I often hear ‘just a few more changes and then it will settle’ as a refrain for sanity.
Here’s my take – change is the ever constant.
It is what it is – holding out for the settling phase is unlikely to happen as companies continue to review and adapt to stay competitive.
How do you gain a sense of calm and control when so much is moving around you?
Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle in the middle of the page.
Write down what you know you absolutely can take care of – your attitude, the amount of energy you invest, how you manage your deadlines, the quality of relationships you have with your interactions at the office.
Draw a second, larger circle around that.
Write down what is outside of your circle of influence, what you can’t control. This may include your long to do list, the team member who isn’t delivering his 100%, the decisions that are stopping your project from continuing, the latest cost cutting requirements…
Review the two circles and notice that the inner circle – what you can control and influence has a lot less written in.
How liberating would it be for your inner calm to only pay attention to those things?
I understand it’s an ongoing challenge for many of us, especially the perfectionists, so keep your paper close as a reminder for you.
3. Look for the growth around you
Being stuck can feel heavy, stagnant and with little movement. Yet, there is always growth around and within us.
Think of a paved sidewalk. It’s firm and solid with cement that is immovable. Yet somehow, a piece of grass will always find a way through to grow.
Think of your body where your cells rejuvenate themselves every single night as you sleep – constant, unseen movement.
How can you tap into that energy of growth that constantly surrounds us?
Start by stopping.
Feel into your body.
What sensations can you feel when you consider your career? What excites you? What feels heavy? What goals / dreams did you write down at the beginning of the year? Who could you have a conversation with about where these are at?
If you’d like to explore other techniques to get unstuck, or take forward steps for answers that came up for you from these exercises, book a free 30 minute Discovery call with me here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!