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Ask These 7 Questions to Inspire Yourself and Get Out of a Career Rut

Ask These 7 Questions to Inspire Yourself and Get Out of a Career Rut

Life is frustrating when you’re stuck in a career rut. I’ve been there and it wasn’t pretty. I felt stuck for years at a job I liked but didn’t love. Although my coworkers and clients were awesome, the daily grind of my weekly work routine gradually sucked the joy out of me. With a lot of hard work, I revamped my entire life. I rediscovered my passions, started a business, left my job, and am making my dreams my reality.

Here are some of the questions I asked myself to help me get out of my rut and feel alive again. Hopefully these questions will help you as much as they have helped me.

1. Is this really what I want?

Millions of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. If you find yourself gleefully announcing “Thank God it’s Friday!” every week, start paying attention to yourself. Life’s too short to spend your life in quiet desperation, craving to bust out of the confines of your job and make a different dent on the world.

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If you don’t love your work, have the courage to actually admit it to yourself and set out to change your situation. In this famous TED Talk, Mel Robbins describes how lying to yourself and telling yourself you’re fine when you’re really not happy sabotages your life. In her compelling speech, Robbins has some great tips to help you stop screwing yourself over and actually get out of your rut.

2. Who am I?

Becoming a self-expert is a crucial part of discovering the work you love to do. Study yourself and devote time to learning about your personality and what lights you up. When you understand your unique strengths and passions, you can set out to discover work that allows you to capitalize on the best parts of you.

If you’ve been stuck in the daily grind for awhile, just going through the motions of each day, you might feel like you don’t know who you are or what you love anymore. The good news is there are many great books and personality tests you can use for self-discovery. One of my favorite resources is Sally Hogshead’s site How to Fascinate. Hogshead’s assessments can help you discover your personality’s top advantages in the working world and in your personal life. Her site is unique in that it helps you understand how the world sees you. This information was life-changing for me when I was stuck in my career rut.

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3. If I had the time, money, connections, [fill in the blank…], what would I do?

What are your biggest dreams? Dreaming big is an incredibly important step in finding and doing work you love. Picture your life without constraints. Then get your big idea out of your head and onto paper. Write down your giant career aspirations in as much detail as possible to give yourself a clear picture of what your goals are.

When you find yourself immediately thinking, “That’s not possible; I don’t know how”, “I’m not smart enough” or placing any other limitations you put on yourself, reframe your thoughts. Changing your mindset to “I’ll do everything I can to learn how to do this” and “I’ll surround myself with people who can help me make this possible” can make an immense difference in your life and help you get unstuck.

4. What can I do today to move me toward my goals?

Start taking actions every day to move you closer to your long-term career goals. Immerse yourself in podcasts and books by people who inspire you. Taking small steps every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes per day, can help you move towards a career you’ll love. If you’re intimidated by your big goals, commit to taking a baby step forward every day. Eventually you’ll look back and be amazed at the progress you’ve made.

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5. Who do I need to help me?

Even professional athletes and many of the world’s most successful business owners have coaches. Identify the areas in your career where you could benefit from guidance. Maybe you could use leadership training or business strategy planning? Seeking out assistance and building a supportive team of people you can collaborate with can empower you to make your vision for your career a reality.

6. Are there luxuries in my life I’m willing to give up to have more freedom?

Many people feel trapped in their jobs due to financial stress. Yet sometimes this financial stress could easily be relieved by temporarily changing your spending habits. This Ellen Goodman quote sums up why many people are dissatisfied with their lives: “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.”

If you’re feeling stuck in your job, and craving getting out, carefully consider your spending habits. Making short-term sacrifices may allow you to decrease your hours at work, or to accept that job you’d love offering less pay.

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7. How can I make a difference where I am now?

Check out this article about how to make a difference in the world where you are now. It’s possible to make a big impact on others even when you’re working in a frustrating, thankless job.

Want more tips to get out of your career rut? Check out my advice in this article on the 7 Mindsets website for 7 tips to make your life less miserable when you’re thinking, “I want to quit my job!”

Featured photo credit: Hard Work Can Hurt/Dave C via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

5 Ways to Accomplish Your Biggest Goals to The Fullest 5 Keys to Discovering Your Life’s True Mission Don’t like your job? Here are some solutions. How People Make Decisions That Are Bad For Them How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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