Our brains hate ambiguity.
And few things are as ambiguous as being in a mid-career limbo.
This week I want to share 3 underrated, yet critical areas to focus on if you are feeling stuck in your career:
Investing in yourself.
Challenging the fears and beliefs that are holding you back.
Optimizing your energy.
Most of us fall into the trap of assuming that activating a sense of urgency is the same thing as making progress. If you’re a job seeker, anything that falls short of searching, applying, and landing the next opportunity qualifies as an indulgence.
We sit for hours sifting through hundreds of job openings, submitting applications, and calling headhunters. We land some interviews but fizzle in the last round. The hamster wheel continues for months… and we’re still stuck in the same place.
That was me two years ago.
But there’s a better and faster way to get unstuck and pivot your career. And it doesn’t require you to deprive and over-focus until you get to the other side. What truly unlocks the path to reinventing your career is personal growth.
Growth happens when you invest in yourself, challenge your beliefs, and optimize your energy.
Let’s dive in!
Don’t focus on what job you’re meant to do. Focus on what person you’re meant to be.
1) Invest in yourself
Personal growth fuels exponential results.
New experiences, insights, skills, and relationships push you out of your familiar scene. They open a whole new world and unexpected opportunities.
A career crisis triggers all sorts of fears around money. Some of these fears are real and warranted, but sometimes our reflex is to quickly tighten our wallet and adopt a “war-time rationing” attitude. But as with successful businesses, downturn cycles are precisely the time to invest in growth.
Taking a class, picking up a new hobby, traveling somewhere new, meeting people with different perspectives, and reading quality books have a lasting effect because they expose you to a new context.
A year ago, I decided to invest $4,000 in a coach training program. Two weeks after starting, I landed my first paying client and was already making a profit. And most importantly, this validated coaching as a viable new career. Instant confidence! Investing in myself changed my life.
Redirect your spending to things that can give you a return on your investment.
2) Examine and question the fears and beliefs that are holding you back
Clarity is the result of separating what your heart wants from what your ego needs.
The most important (and often scariest) part of finding your true calling is being completely honest with yourself.
Ego often masks itself as pragmatism, common sense, or ambition. It’s a protective layer that makes us get defensive and stubborn. I’m no psychologist, but I found that a good way to spot my ego is by paying attention to my inner chatter. Specifically, when using “I should” instead of “I want”.
But challenging our beliefs is easier said than done. Get in the habit of reframing, journaling, experimenting, taking small steps, and celebrating your wins. Hire a coach as a clarity and accountability partner to accelerate your success (wink, wink), or if past traumas are getting in your way, therapy may be a better option.
I came to realize the extent to which my family’s expectations around achievement and status shaped the direction of my career. At age 49, my fixation with a respectable job title and a six-figure income kept me stuck applying for positions and organizations that, deep inside, I didn’t want or weren’t a good fit.
Are your expectations coming from your heart or your ego?
3) Optimize your energy
Engines can’t run on fumes.
Energy impacts everything: mood, outlook, behavior, and resilience.
Our distorted notion of “work ethic” glorifies burning the candle at both ends as a sign of grit and commitment. People binge, drink and use drugs to ease the pain. And worse, we’ve come to celebrate this toxic lifestyle through quips such as “work hard, play hard”.
Setting boundaries and breaking the cycle is not always easy. Some pressures are out of our direct control. But it’s doable. It starts with self-awareness and an inventory of how we spend our time.
Too much time spent searching and applying for jobs online is more detrimental than helpful. Cut down anything that sucks your energy: news, politics, social media, and needy people. Replace routines that replenish and enhance your energy: exercise, nutritious foods, nature, friends, rest, learning, etc.
I used to check the news about 5-6 times per day, which amounted to 60+ minutes devoted to fueling my outrage. Now, I limit my consumption to 15 minutes once a week. I feel more optimistic, sleep better, and am less triggered. And guess what… they are still covering the same stories.
Don’t focus on the job you are meant to do. Focus on the person you are meant to be.
Before you get sucked into the job search, put your energy here:
Invest in yourself.
Challenge the fears and beliefs that are holding you back.
Optimize your energy.
As always, thanks for reading.
Hit reply and let me know how this post helped you. Your comments and feedback (good and bad) are pure gold!
If you are stuck in a mid-career crisis and are ready to start walking out of the fog, ask me about my 1:1 signature career transformation program.