Working in a job you don’t like is not where any of us wish to be. The question is, what are you doing to improve the situation? In some cases, there might not be much if anything you can do. Many times it’s a matter of either sucking it up and dealing with it or finding the exit door. More realistically, you may feel trapped somewhere between sucking it up and heading for the exit. Many people develop a story that basically describes feeling stuck and unfortunately reinforces their situation.
What does it mean to be stuck and how to we end up there?
First of all, feeling stuck can be summed up as a lack of action. You may have a strong desire for something new but unless you act on it, nothing will change. Therefore, to initiate change, the logical solution would appear to be to take some sort of action. That’s where most of us run into trouble.
The biggest reason we get stuck in a situation we don’t like is because we become complacent in our comfort zone. Breaking out of our comfort zone means changing routines and habits in order to step into the unknown. The comfort zone is safe and risk free. It’s everything that’s familiar whether we enjoy it or not. More often than not, there’s a lack of growth if any that results.
A great example is The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhymes. She was challenged by a family member to say yes to things she’d previously said no to, such as appearing on talk shows, doing a TED Talk and attending numerous gatherings she preferred to avoid. Saying yes instead of no, catapulted her into the unknown which was terrifying. However, she recognized after one year of repeatedly saying yes, she had not only grown through all her new experiences, but developed a great deal confidence. Saying yes to new opportunities became her new normal. She had let go of the habit of saying no to everything that scared her.
Being Stuck = The Comfort Zone
Most people have developed a fairly convincing story that reinforces their rational for remaining in the comfort zone. “I’m not marketable” or “I’m too young or too old or too spoiled by my easy commute.” The number of stories are endless. A client I worked with several years ago had a passion for Reiki but was unable to turn it into a career. Leaving her job with a high salary and nice benefits was too risky. Although her work was affecting her health, she felt she was better off because she was at least safe. She was in her comfort zone. Her argument for not making a change was strong but the stress of doing nothing was taking a toll.
Sometimes, being stuck is no big deal. It’s temporary and you know what you have to do and will make changes when the time is right. It causes very little discomfort. Other times, the thought of change is overwhelming and causes a great deal of discomfort. Taking it even further, the identification with the story is so strong, that it can require therapy to begin letting go.
The solution to inaction is naturally taking action. But how do you know when you’re on the right track? Here are 7 steps to help get you moving in the right direction. Be as descriptive as you can with your responses.
- What is the desired outcome?
- What will having that do for you?
- How will you know when you’re getting the results you want?
- What is stopping you from following through on this right now?
- What needs to change?
- How do you know this is what needs to happen?
- Based on these insights, what actions are you going to take and by when?
The answer to number 7 does not need to be the ultimate desired end goal, such as landing a new job. It might make more sense to first update your resume or get additional training for a new job. Or perhaps you want to reach out to a few people in your network. What’s most important is to commit to taking the action in number 7. One small step forward is usually all that’s needed to create the momentum needed to get you moving and guide you to your end goal.
Check out our Job Workshop series to buy our Webinar on Getting Unstuck Getting Unstuck