Stuck In A Career Rut?

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Are you in a career that you dislike but you feel there is nothing you can do about it? Many of us stay in our careers (and jobs) longer than we want because we are unsure what we would do next. We tell ourselves that the answer will come to us someday. Then, we will make our move. Or, when the economy improves, we'll go. But in the meantime, we stay where we are, stuck and unhappy. Your career does not get better until you make it better. This involves work. Yes, you may tell yourself that the work is hard to do. But isn't staying in a career (or job) that is draining your energy and taking away from your quality of life harder? Getting out of rut is all about taking action to move yourself forward. You decide what you want and then you put a plan in place to get it. You see it, you believe it, and then you achieve it. So, How Do You Get Out Of Your Rut? Follow These 6 Steps Below: 1. You Write Down What You Like To Do List 10 things that you like or have liked about the careers (or jobs) you have been in. This exercise can give you insight and objectivity into what you want in your career. Past likes lead to future likes, which lead to career satisfaction. 2. You Write Down What You Dislike To Do List 10 things that you dislike or have disliked about the careers (or jobs) you have been in. This exercise will tell you what you do not want in your next position. Many people can't tell me what they do want as easily as what they don't want. The good news is that the flip side of what you don't want is what you really want to be doing next. 3. You Create Your Ideal Job Spend some time with a piece of papers and your inner thoughts. Ask yourself if you knew the next move in your career would absolutely, positively work, what would you do next? Be as specific as possible. Are you running your own company or your own department? Where are you based? Are your hours 9 to 5 or more flexible? Are you telecommuting? Are you working with numbers or people? Let whatever is supposed to come out, out. No screening; just what's important to you. 4. You Research The Market Who can you talk to in the field you want to get into? What reports have been written about that field? What companies are doing what you know in your heart you should be doing next? Research works effectively when you are using the Internet, books, and people (all three) to help you understand where is the best place for you to go to next. 5. You Create Your Plan When will your change take place? How will you get there? What steps will you take specifically and when will you take them? Write everything down. This way you will make sure you do not forget anything. And, you will have a place to add new steps along the way. Action leads to results. Inaction (or the lack of a plan) will only fuel and prolong your rut. 6. You Reward Yourself For Moving Forward It is never easy looking at your career (or yourself) and deciding that something needs to change. Some changes come quickly, and some changes come slowly. Regardless of the pace you go, reward yourself for moving forward. It really is a big deal.

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  • Gil
    Replying to James:Your challenge is not at all uncommon, so you're certainly not alone in this. You state that what you really like is geoscience. That's very broad. You need to break that down much further. I suggest you get yourself a copy of Curt Rosengren's ebook: Occupational Adventure Guide. You will be able to define your likes and natural skills and proclivity in much finer detail. Then you need to really think outside the box and brainstorm relevant avenues. Do you have any passion for anything related to journalism (look at the Passion Core)? In what ways can your educational background be salvaged in connection with your Passion Core? How does that connect with your passions in the geoscience field? It's not the whole story, but it will be a good start for you.
  • Wilson K.
    Wilson K.
    A great article indeed. I am also one of  the people who are stuck in rut. I don't like the career I am in now. Unfortunately I have two degrees in this career (BSc. and MSc.degrees). I am now thinking of changing my career, but that means a lot of time and money, particularly getting qualifications in the new career I like most. Should I sacrifice??
  • Joseph B.
    Joseph B.
    I have been in construction most of my life and am looking for something that does not require long physical hours as paving does. I am not ready to retire yet but am looking for something that a 63 year old guy can do in my area.....Joe
  • Dawn
    Might I suggest volunteer work especially at places that supply our most basic needs? Be an advocate for your health care, work in a dental clinic, in a food pantry, or at Habitat for Humanity or goodwill.  Knowing that you are contributing to society in that way gets rid of worthless feelings and isolation.
  • Diane W.
    Diane W.
    I agree with you Laura; these are excellent suggestions to get anyone back on track.
  • James
    I have a problem that I really need advice on. I got discouraged at pursuing what I really like(geoscience), and am going to get a degree in Journalism. I really regret not thinking more about what I want. I'm one of the shyest guys on the planet, so even though my grades are awesome, I don't think I could really fit into any news company. Jobs in journalism don't pay much, and jobs in geoscience are very scarce. I detest math and I don't like reading uninteresting stuff,I'm really picky about my news. I was thinking about applying to science museums and starting over there, but when I turn my resume in saying I'm getting a degree in journalism, they are not likely to hire me. I'm stuck and truly don't know how to get myself back into what I really like. I'm young, so I think I have time. Someone help.
  • Laura J.
    Laura J.
    These are excellent suggestions to get a person (me) back on track. Thank you!
  • Janet J.
    Janet J.
    The problem is say you recently earned a masters degree in finance and accounting and all you have experience in is accounting but you don't enjoy it. Now what do you do? Its hard to change your resume if all you have ever done in your work experience is one type of job. That's my current issue with being stuck in a rut.
  • Debra Doyle
    Debra Doyle
    I like your article. i would make one suggestion. Find a group to join. Isolation can really take it's toll when starting over.    

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