Are you stuck in a career plateau? If you’re feeling uninspired and bored at your job, it’s time to put some work into preparing your next step. Shake off the inertia, focus on the actions and mind-set you can control, and reconnect with your motivation to build your career. In this episode of Your Next Move Podcast, host Kimberly Brown encourages you to hold yourself accountable as you pursue a more fulfilling work life and provides actionable advice to help you shift your attention to the things that will move you forward professionally.
- Pursue growth, make better connections and work toward your goals daily.
- Focus on your next step instead of your long-term vision.
- Carve out your niche and identify the skills you can leverage for the greatest impact.
Pursue growth, make better connections and work toward your goals daily.
If you start watching the clock as soon as you get to work and the hours are crawling by, you’re probably stuck in a career plateau.
“We spend 40 plus hours a week doing work for someone else…but what are you doing to work on your own professional development?”
When you find yourself feeling unmotivated, become more intentional in your mind-set and actions:
- Make a commitment to your own professional growth – You can’t always control your work tasks, or how your boss or co-workers behave; but you can control your own mind-set and growth. A plateau is a good time to work on your professional goals and development. Invest in education opportunities and experiences – including books classes, workshops or retreats – that could help you fill gaps in your skill set; this will get you ready to move to the next level.
- Make connections that matter – Pursue “accelerated collisions”: networking opportunities that are tailored for an optimal exchange of value among participants. Seeking these opportunities may involve contacting your mentor and asking them to put you in touch with someone; it may mean going to a networking event or happy hour. Identify environments where people are primed and motivated to quickly create high-value relationships. If you go to a retreat or conference where there’s an application process, or if you have to pay a substantial amount to be there, you know that everyone in attendance wants to make the most of that event.
- Take actions every day to work on your career – When you feel stuck, your drive can diminish. So make sure you do something on a daily basis to pursue your career goals. Be “relentlessly consistent.” Don’t rely on your mentor or boss to push you forward: No one cares more about your career than you.
Focus on your next step instead of your long-term vision.
We often have a clear vision of where we want to go, but when we’re in a career plateau, that future can seem impossibly distant. If you stay too focused on your 10-year plan, you may not see what your next, incremental step should be.
“The magic middle: That is where the things happen.”
Fully embrace the “magic middle”: the time when you are building the skills and taking the smaller steps needed to reach your long-term goals. Paying closer attention to next steps will bring your progress into greater relief and will help you appreciate milestones that you should be celebrating. Don’t wait until you make it to the finish line to recognize your accomplishments.
Carve out your niche and identify the skills you can leverage for the greatest impact.
Your ability to fill a need in the marketplace or within your organization makes you valuable. Those spaces – where your skills and abilities shine brightest – are where you can have the greatest impact. For example, a videographer fills a storytelling gap that others can’t because he or she has a special skill set: knowledge of lighting, camera angles, editing and more. A videographer may be helping someone else tell his or her story, but they’re no less essential to the process: If it was up to that person alone, the visual aspect just wouldn’t happen.
“What is the gap that your boss has, that the CEO has, that the team has?”
Look around your workplace to see what needs your company or team have that you can fulfill. When you spot a gap, consider how it might connect to your work or skill set. If your work is specialized, look at adjacent needs in your company that you could expand your skill set to fill. If you only code in Python and your company needs a Java developer, can you move in and fill that gap?
“How can you lean more into […] your skills?”
Look through your full resume and think about the skills you gained from each job listed. You should end up with a list of five to ten core skills. Ask yourself which of these skills you want to maximize and which ones you are not interested in pursuing. Find your “zone of genius”: the skills at which you excel that you could use most effectively to fill a gap in your workplace.
About the Speaker
Kimberly Brown is a career and leadership development expert and founder of Manifest Yourself.