Career stagnation happens to the best of us, but only a few are able to get out of this endless abyss.
Hey, career stagnation is actually quite normal. Some people stagnate voluntarily as it provides them with much-needed stability. But the actual problem starts when you keep working yourself out without a purpose, a vision or a clear mission. Then, you are bound to get burnt out.
Signs that your career is stagnating
The feeling of stagnation is something that builds slowly over time. You get too comfortable in a routine. Chances are that after you set your last milestone, you didn’t know how to progress and lingered on for a bit too long and now you feel burned out, but you don’t know the reason. These are some signs that you are not able to move further ahead in your career:
- You are not being challenged at work.
- It has been more than 18 months since you have been promoted vertically or laterally.
- Your primary motivation to do your job is because you want to leave early.
- You get the Sunday night blues.
- There is no scope for learning or growth.
Whether you are just starting out on your professional journey or someone with extensive work experience, you need to have a clear image of where you want to be and how you will reach that place. The moment you stop progressing, that is when you should be alarmed.
Here’s How to Overcome it!
1. Evaluate your current situation
First, you must assess how deep you are in the stagnation waters. After you get a fair idea of your situation, only then will you be able to move ahead on the planning part.
- What is stopping you from moving ahead? A lot of times, people give into stagnation involuntarily. It might be financial stability, or you didn’t know how to progress after reaching your latest milestone. But waiting too long can lead to burnout, both personal and professional.
- What is meaningful to you right now? Set your priorities straight. What is it that matters the most to you? What motivates you to get up every day? Ask yourself these questions to get a clear picture of where you stand right now. Time is the most democratic resource, and how you spend it is in your hands.
- What stage of life are you at?- The majority of people who face career stagnation are primarily in their 40s and above. Chances are that you are at a point where you are facing some existential questions. If yes, then you must deal with them before they become a full-fledged crisis.
These three points help you gain a holistic perspective on your current situation. Most of the time, the root cause of your stagnation buds from your personal situations. Once you deal with them, you will have a clearer idea of how to make an actionable plan for overcoming your career stagnation.
2. What does your ideal future look like?
Here’s the important question. Where do you want to see yourself in the future? What is your next milestone? Now don’t hold yourself back here! Take into account anything you might have developed a passion for a long time ago but had little time to pursue.
After discovering where your heart is, you need to define an ideal scenario. By that, I mean aligning your values to your professional aspirations. Here are the three Ps you can use as a checklist to further get clarity:
- Purpose: At its core, Purpose is about who you want to serve and what empowers you. A well-defined purpose will act as a cornerstone for your future professional plans. What can you contribute that will define your ideal legacy?
- People: The kind of people you work with impacts your individual development potential and the direction your career will take. Surround yourself with people that embody your ideals and support your ambitions.
- Pace: Set an ideal pace for yourself. What is your ideal trajectory for career progression? How frequently do you want to uplevel? Chalk this out, so you have a timeline to refer to when translating your aspirations into full-blown plans.
Use these three Ps as the pillars of your further career decisions. Your core values need to be aligned with your future career aspirations if you want to strike the right balance.
3. What energises you?
Here you need to discover the inner resources that enable you to continue progressing without exhausting yourself. What are your key competencies? What makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd?
For that, you must do a comprehensive SWOT analysis. Big companies usually do these to assess their situation and plan accordingly, but they can also be done for individuals. Your strengths and weaknesses are the building blocks of your performance.
The whole point of figuring out your core strengths and weaknesses is that you can control these factors. These strengths will be your USP and make you a star performer. Optimise them to tackle any barriers (threats) you may face while advancing towards the opportunities.
4. Check your Inventory
After you are stuck in the stagnation phase for quite some time, there are high chances you didn’t try to keep up with the industry. It is okay if you’re guilty of this.
Upskilling is absolutely necessary if you want to stay relevant and move up the ladder. The corporate world can be highly competitive and dynamic; thus, keeping up with the new industry standards and skills is a must. This is what you can do to keep your skills inventory updated from time to time:
- Take relevant courses outside your workplace
- Keep up with the digital trends relevant to your industry
- Take a project outside your usual remit
While you prioritise upskilling, make sure you focus on reinventing yourself. Reinvention starts with making small yet noticeable changes in your lifestyle. The quality of your lifestyle can very well reflect on your professional performance.
5. Define your Heaven and Hell
We all have a heaven and hell, don’t we?
Let me put it in more comprehensible terms. Your heaven is situations where you thrive or when you were the star performer. That is when you were at your highest.
Hell is basically the times you were stuck in a crisis. Times where your days seemed long, and you didn’t have any energy left in you.
What was your heaven and hell up until now? How did you make the best of your opportunities, and how did you deal with your crisis? How you react in these situations will help you assess your code of behaviour and help you become the best version of yourself. In the end, your personal growth will decide how you grow professionally.
6. Translate your professional aspirations into a realistic plan
Remember the timeline we talked about in point 2?
While identifying your destination, you need to map out the entire route. Now that route will be in accordance with the timeline you have set. To plan more effectively, break down your big objectives into SMART goals:
- Specific- Keep it to the point. Setting a specific goal helps you gain clarity and be more precise with your day-to-day efforts. This will serve as your mission statement.
- Measurable- Quantify your goals. Choose the relevant metrics to measure your progress from time to time. If it is an extended project, try to set milestones keeping in mind the set tasks.
- Attainable- Is this goal achievable with your current resources and skills? Evaluate what must be done to achieve this goal. If you don’t have to needed resources and skills, focus on attaining those first.
- Relevant- Is this goal relevant to your larger objective? If it doesn’t align with your plan, save yourself some time and drop it. Your efforts are precious.
- Time Bound- If your goals lack a realistic timeline, there are chances that it is going to fail. Time restrictions not only create a sense of urgency but also keep your plan in motion and help you drive results faster.
As you keep these parameters in mind while planning, it will be much easier for you to put your professional aspirations into a realistic and achievable plan.
7. Grow your Personal Brand
Personal Brand? is that really necessary? Yes.
So here is the thing: you need more than a skill set to stand out; that is where your Personal Brand will shine.
It is 2022, and we are at the peak of the digital renaissance. During the pandemic, everyone was online, and that wave never actually subsided. Now, the first thing you do after you meet even a slightly interesting person is.. Googling them! Or search on LinkedIn in this context.
What they see on the Internet is like a follow-up, a background check. This will act as a source of credibility for you. So there needs to be something substantial and gravitating about you for them to have any business with you. That is where you can leverage content! Establish yourself as an industry expert, voice your opinion, and simply engage!
8. Keep networking!
This is the most crucial part of your plan!
Networking the right way with the right people is an art. Connecting with the right people helps you go a long way! You need to evaluate who are the relevant people in your industry that can be your breakthrough point.
The Internet has truly been a blessing in disguise lately. You can even connect with people sitting on a different continent. This is your opportunity!
Try to make the first step human. Talk about them before you talk about yourself. Remember, networking is a long-term process. You would want to form meaningful connections that stick around for a long time.
A stagnating career can be scary, especially if you are in the second half of your life. But trust me, all it takes is clarity in vision and just an actionable plan for your career trajectory to go up again!
While you have followed this process and set achievable goals for the next phase in your career, making progress is much easier. With the right determination and grit, you are definitely going to rock it!
Also, if you want to grow fast in your career, you are at the right place. I have helped several professionals develop a personalised business plan that has helped them maximise their professional potential while keeping their personal goals in parallel. Attend my free webinar to know how you can develop a personal business plan and live a remarkable life.