Looking back, you did hit the ground running the moment you started this job from day one. Now, however, you wake up each day dreading going to work for no apparent reason.
It’s quite normal to get stuck in a rut at times. Like most people, you are a constantly evolving organism, figuratively speaking. Sometimes, what may have been the perfect role for you a few years ago no longer excites or rewards you as much as it used to.
Perhaps you’ve begun to feel bored, unchallenged or unhappy in your current job. It may be that you feel stuck and your career is not progressing as you hoped. Perhaps you are not meeting the goals you expected to achieve, or perhaps you no longer have goals that motivate and inspire you.
All these are equally valid reasons to stop and completely re-evaluate your career choices. When you feel unfulfilled at work, you may begin to lose your self-confidence, courage, and tenacity. It is important to take some time to think carefully before these negative emotions overwhelm you.
To help you get back on track, you can apply this 5-step plan designed to help you find a clearer path to happiness and fulfillment in your working life. It may help you find a better route to your goals, or it may help set you on an entirely new journey.
1. Breathe, and forget about work for a moment.
This is the right moment to take stock of who you are. While work is a vital component of your identity, there are other strands that knit together to make you whole.
Focus on what you are passionate about. What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work? Do you have any talents that you don’t currently use in your working day?
Don’t rush this stage; it’s important that you allow lots of time for self-reflection. As well as your ongoing interests, are there are any hobbies you have been meaning to take up? Setting up new personal challenges can help you learn a lot more about who you are. This is the perfect time to explore new interests.
Once you’ve got a clearer idea of what makes you happy, keeps you interested and motivated, and what inspires you, you can turn your thoughts back to work. How can you weave what you’ve learned about yourself into a more fulfilling career?
For example, do you find yourself drawn to very sociable hobbies? Perhaps a more people-focused role would work better for you. Or are you yearning to be more creative? How could you change career direction to fulfill this need?
2. Review your achievements.
Listing your past accomplishments — big and small — can be an enormously revealing exercise.
Usually, in the act of achieving something, you must have used a multitude of skills. Some of them will be hard skills — the technical skills that are work specific — but many of them will be so-called soft skills. These are personal qualities that are harder to demonstrate and define but are equally important. They might be communication or people-management related, for instance.
By reviewing your past achievements, you will see a pattern of soft skills amongst them. Creativity, perhaps? Teamwork? Or conflict resolution?
By taking stock of your core soft skills, you may see new opportunities to develop in your current career. Or you may find new roles to target to make better use of these soft skills. These skills are not role-specific and are very transferable across industries and work environments.
3. Take a fresh approach to job searches.
It’s very easy to dismiss jobs by skimming through their titles. It might be that you don’t yet have the hard skills to apply for a certain role, but that your soft skills are a perfect match.
Challenge yourself to read full job descriptions, even if they are for roles you have never imagined taking before. This is an eye-opening exercise. Often, you will see that you are more qualified for more roles than you ever expected to be. You may not yet have the hard skills, but these can be easily acquired with time and training.
4. Embrace lifelong learning, starting now.
Through learning, people grow. Life is more fulfilling if you seek ways to learn more about yourself, other people and the world at large. You may have found a new direction by now, but learning will still be invaluable to you.
From this moment on, seize every opportunity to learn. Find new courses, career development days, or ask to shadow people working in a range of environments and disciplines. Investigate leadership training opportunities, too. This may take some research, but take charge and seek the opportunities yourself, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
5. Finally, schedule your personal annual career review.
It’s important to avoid this kind of career crisis again so commit to taking stock once a year.
One year from now, you will have grown and changed. Your needs, your likes and your dislikes may be the same or will have altered somehow. Unexpected events may have occurred to change your feelings towards your career as well.
So, even when you are happy with your job, schedule in this bit of time to evaluate where you stand in terms of your short-term and long-term career and life goals. Doing so will keep you alert and motivated to continue if you find yourself on track. If not, then you will have saved yourself from years of staying in a job that you may not be truly committed to.
Power up for your career and life
Now that you are re-empowered, it’s really important that you make completing these steps an annual process. This way you’ll keep your goals updated and fresh in your mind. You’ll respond to your career needs as they happen, and you will be open to new opportunities.
Once you’ve completed this 5-step process, you’ll have a clearer idea of who you are, where your motivation lies, and the path you want to tread. It’s now time to seize the moment and focus on putting strategies in place to land your dream role.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.