Wouldn’t it be nice if our careers continually proceeded on an upward trajectory? We work hard. We deserve success. We move up. Right?
Not exactly. The fact is, despite our best efforts there are times where we feel like we are not getting ahead. It’s like your feet are stuck in mud. It is frustrating, aggravating and in our opinion, downright unfair. Those are the times when you are stuck in a career plateau.
Here is the good news. Career plateaus are common. You’ll get over it. There is also a pretty good chance that the lessons you learn as a result of being stuck for a period will benefit you for a lifetime. Here are a few thoughts on how you can break out of those dreaded plateaus:
- Change your routine. Do something different. Drive a different route to work. Take a class on something unrelated to work, like cooking or yoga. Take mental breaks during the day and recharge a bit. Change up the routine at work if you are able. Giving yourself a little variety can do wonders for your outlook;
- Plan your own personal retreat. Get away for a couple of days. Use the time for some reflection. Have fun. Get a massage. Go for a walk in nature. Play golf or go on a kayaking adventure. Take the time to reflect on where you are at, and how you might like to change up your strategies going forward. Notice the beauty of the world around you. A retreat can reenergize you and give you a new sense of purpose;
- Get an outside opinion. Being stuck on a plateau may be a good time to visit a colleague, mentor, friend or even hire a coach. Bringing in another set of eyes can give you valuable perspective, increase confidence, assist in evaluating goals and strategies, and develop new approaches to your career; and
- Celebrate stuckness. This is what my coach used to tell me when I asked her how to handle those moments with clients where I just didn’t know what to do. Her answer was basically to admit the fact that I am indeed stuck and enjoy the moment. Plateaus won’t kill you. They should make you better. It’s hard to feel that when you are in the middle of your frustration, however if you can accept the fact that you are going to come out of this just fine, perhaps you can find the ability to take a breath and enjoy.
Here is another fact about career plateaus. You are going to have another one (or more). The best part about that I have found is that having been there and done that, I recognize the symptoms much earlier than I did when this was all new to me. The way out of each plateau is different – and that is part of the fun. Once you break out, you’ll be able to resume your journey to the summit.