You feel stuck in your career, you are not alone as the majority of workers feel stuck when it comes to their career and future job prospects.
In a survey conducted by the American multinational technology company Oracle, researchers found that more than 75% of employees surveyed feel blocked, both personally and professionally.
The challenges that presented themselves during the first months of the pandemic led millions of people to quit their jobs en masse, in what would later become known as The Great Resignation. Fast forward a few years, and we see a new trend in the workplace – silent quitting – leaving many employers unsure whether employees are dissatisfied with their jobs or whether they may have hit a wall in their career path.
In two separate studies, it was found that around 20% of American workers have already changed careers, while a secondary survey found that 46% of respondents plan to change careers in the coming year.
Work-related challenges, ranging from financial well-being to executive leadership, career growth and work-life balance, all contribute to the growing list of reasons why employees feel they are entering or are already in a career rut.
The tight labor market has seen employers struggle to attract and retain staff as employees continually leave positions in the hope of landing a suitable job that can provide them with the perks and benefits they crave.
While these opportunities are available, albeit in the most difficult places, it does not resolve the question of whether employees who feel stuck – personally or professionally – will be able to successfully change careers.
Dealing with the challenges that come with changing career paths, especially if you feel like you’ve fallen into a career rut, can be stressful. Although it takes time to get used to the transition, it is important to consider several things that can help make the process more enjoyable and exciting at the same time.
Consider your wants versus your needs
A good starting point is to consider your career “wants” and your career “needs”. Start by thinking about the daily pain points you are currently experiencing in your job or career, and start writing them down. Being able to identify the cause of why you’re feeling stuck or in a rut can help start clearing the air.
Considering “wants” usually includes things you would like to see changed in the near future. This can include things like 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 may be considered non-negotiable for your career. Needs tend to include things like getting a previously promised promotion or a better work-life balance.
Look at how your professional needs are being met and if your employer is willing to talk about some of the pain points in an effort to help you grow in your current role and career.
Examine your professional values
There’s a big difference between being stuck in a job and stuck in a career, and differentiating the two starts with looking at what your career values are.
As you begin the transition process, think about how your passion for something can lead you to a suitable career. There are different things we value in life, and it can have a direct impact on our careers and their success.
Let’s say for example that you enjoy working with people and finding a solution to their problems. Have you perhaps considered starting a business, being a property manager, offering advice or becoming an affiliate marketer? Maybe you love delivering actionable results that you can see and experience first-hand. Maybe you are more creative and have more artistic values, how can this coincide with the possibility of a whole new career?
Jot down a few ideas and take some time to think about all the things in your personal life that you find valuable. Thanks to this, you can start looking in the direction in which you want to evolve before making a final decision on the career change.
Network with connection-minded professionals
Once you’re aware of your professional 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 do this is to use your social network and find out who works in a similar field or has expertise on your desired career path.
When you start talking to other people about your possible change, you will be able to get a better idea and know what to expect. On top of that, talking to those working in the field can help you understand the ins and outs that you haven’t considered yet.
If you don’t necessarily have or know someone to talk to, consider participating in informational interviews or joining a workshop that can help reveal the inner workings of a seemingly unknown world.
It’s also important to network with an open mind and be open to the idea of being challenged or having to change the way you think about career aspects, it’s best to test the waters, before you dive in head first.
Create a strategy
As you begin to better understand the possibility of a new career, start putting together a strategy or game plan that you can follow. Be realistic about your goals and how you will achieve them. Your strategy should focus on what you want to do and how you are going to do it.
Let’s say you want to change your career from executive director to pastry chef. Consider the type of qualifications you might need to fulfill the duties of a pastry chef and how long it will take you to perfect those skills. More so, where can you learn these new skills and what will you need to enroll? All of these questions and more should be part of the goal that helps build the strategy.
Building your strategy will require you to think about the direction you want to move in and choose something you are passionate about. Once you know what it is or can be, start laying the groundwork for achieving that goal by assessing your skills, networking with other professionals, improving your knowledge, and researching possible professional roles.
Make your choice and think
Thinking about changing careers is one thing, but having to do it is a whole other ball game in itself. Although the transition has already started slowly – the day you started to feel stuck – now you need to take the leap and start aligning your needs and values with the career path you are passionate about.
To represent yourself, you will have to start doing, rather than thinking and planning. Although there is no standard time frame in which you must complete the process, it’s best not to be hard on yourself at first. Make your choice and think about it later to see if it was the right decision.
If you feel like you’re moving in a straight line, then you’re not making progress, nor are you finding viable ways to remove yourself from the situation. It seems a bit daunting at first to be thrown like this, but through these actions you will be able to reflect and come to a conclusion.
Constantly theorizing or planning won’t bring you the change you desire if you don’t start doing it or take the leap.
Although we once fully enjoyed the pace and excitement of the career we are currently enjoying, there will come a time when the feeling of euphoria begins to wear off and the harsh realities of your career will hit you out of the blue.
Changing jobs is one thing, but changing careers is completely changing who you thought you were and reassessing the things you once found interesting. It’s a confusing time, but instead of worrying about whether you will succeed or not, it will only make you more anxious, causing you to completely detach from the idea.
Instead of thinking of it as changing your career, think of it instead as a change of scenery, closing a chapter in your life and starting something completely new – again.
Written by Jacob Wolinsky.
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