How to Turn Around a Career Rut in 4 Weeks or Less

Niya Allen-Vatel New York Career Coach

If you’ve ever been in any kind of rut, whether personal or professional, you know the many levels of emotion that you can experience: frustration, depression, confusion, hopelessness, and feeling downright unmotivated. You will probably feel all of these at some point.

Ruts can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing if you believe there’s no end in sight. Here’s a plan that will help you completely transform your outlook and motivate you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and snap out of your career rut!

I must preface this intense list by letting you know that it’s going to take some work on your part to get things done. This may mean scheduling time during your nights and weekends or declining an evening of mindless television watching in order to actually see progress. Close your eyes and imagine where you will be at this time next month. Then, roll up your sleeves and get started!

Step One | Set Your Mind on Success

Your mindset will determine how successful you are at completing the next steps. When you’re stressed or frantic, it can be nearly impossible to see solutions that may be right in front you. You must remember that career ruts are temporary, and it only takes one pivot, one idea, or one chance encounter to turn things around.

Don’t get preoccupied with the latest employment statistics or listen to naysayers encouraging you to deviate from your plan or telling you that no one is hiring right now. It's imperative that you don’t lose your head or make hasty decisions from a place of desperation or anxiety.

Step Two | Take Inventory

Before I go to the grocery store, I take stock of what I already have to save myself time and money. You have to take stock of your many skills, experience, goals, likes, and dislikes regarding your current career, as well as your desired career path. We can focus on what’s “realistic” later.

Right now, I want you to make a wish list of all the career paths you would love to take in a perfect world. Don’t focus on whether it’s possible or if you’re ready. You have to remind yourself where your passion lies, or you’ll just repeat the same cycle of transitioning to another “in the meantime” opportunity and find yourself disheartened sooner than later.

Step Three | Do Your Research

This step isn’t the most fun, but it’s necessary. Take your inventory list and research a possible transition path that makes sense for your professional level. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just say, “I want to go from ____________ (where I am) to ______________ (where I want to go),” and ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” Then do in-depth research on the possibilities based on your salary requirements, area, family commitments, professional level, and availability of positions in your area.

Step Four | Build a Step-by-Step Strategy

Now that you know where you’re going, it’s time to build a bridge to get there. This might include seeking mentorship, coaching, additional education, or even relocation. Create a fluid 30-60-90-day style checklist, which will give you a visual representation of where you said you wanted to go and keep you motivated and on track.

Remember, if it’s not written down, it’s not real. But keep the checklist fluid, because we all know circumstances change. You might adjust your goals as you progress and find that you want something different. You need to leave room for shifts and adjustments.

Step Five | Start!

Now that you have your marching orders, it’s time to start. You may have trouble motivating yourself in the beginning, but you’ll find that once you get moving and see results, you’ll feel more energetic. You have more control than you think, and you have the power to create change, so don’t be afraid to make those important phone calls, set up an appointment with your manager to discuss options companywide, go to networking events, or contact a professional to revamp your brand package for the next chapter in your career. You must start somewhere.

Once you’ve followed these five steps, you should find yourself with a renewed confidence and dedication to seeing your rut come to an end. You should be very proud of yourself. You survived a career rut and set yourself up for career transition success. Most people don’t have the guts to go for it, so be proud of yourself and use the momentum of the last 4 weeks to propel you forward.

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