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How to avoid feeling stuck in your career

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The beginning of a new year brings the promise of a fresh start. However, like many others, you may struggle with a stalled career or lack of personal and professional growth. The prospect of initiating change is daunting. This is particularly true if you’re looking for a job, wanting to change companies or start a new career.

When times are good, you are charging forward on autopilot without much thought. You are positive and focused on the future. When times are bad, you suddenly feel as though you are stuck in neutral, or worse yet, on reverse. You quickly become mired in negative thoughts and lose perspective and hope about the future. This can easily show up in your attitude and how you present yourself. People want to hire and be around people who are positive and will bring a good attitude to work everyday.

Finding your way out of career and life gridlock requires you to think differently by following three concepts:

Think good thoughts. Focus on the positive and the good in your life. To help you get started, visualize where you have been and where you are heading by creating a diagram of your Life Arc. On a piece of paper, plot your career and life milestones from your twenties, thirties, forties, and beyond. Reflect on past work and life experiences where you’ve been fulfilled and successful. What were you doing, with whom and how were you being to create that success? When were you enjoying life the most? When were you having a positive impact on others? When were you feeling the most fulfilled?

This provides a visual snapshot of your career progression focused

on the good. Viewed in its entirety, these experiences create a compelling story for you to tell about your accomplishment and the value you bring to an organization. Now, what do you want more of in the future? What’s your desired outcome for the new year? This could be a new challenge, improved work environment, more responsibility or learning a new skill.

With this in hand, starting today, you always want to talk positively about yourself, current and past employers and what you want in the future. This new habit is life and career affirming.

Be present. Concentrate on the here and now and what you can impact in the present. Today is the only day that matters. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to accomplish something. The more action you take today the greater chance for results.

Identify one small step that you can take today that creates forward momentum toward your desired outcome. To lock in this commitment, write it down and keep it in a visible location. This will make it real and increase the likelihood of making it happen. Once completed, identify another step and follow this pattern. Completing a series of small commitments is manageable and will add up over time.

Let go of grudges. Let go of burdens and baggage weighing you down. Emotional energy is a precious commodity. In order to make room for the good, you’ll need to let go of the bad. That may require you to forgive others as well as yourself. This should include any wrongs from previous employers. You may have a long list of what you would have done differently.

But the truth is, the past is just that: the past. While it played a role in where you are today, it is not an indicator of the future, especially if you have a commitment to change.

Listen to your “good” inner voice. You have a good inner voice along with the not-so-good one. The latter will cast doubt and distract you from acting on your commitments. The good one focuses on your potential and prospects for achieving future success. When doubts creep into your mind, as they are bound to do, simply let them pass through and replace them with something that lifts your spirits. This could be a past success as noted on your life arc or someone or something thing that brings a smile to your face.

Resetting your GPS shouldn’t be a solo mission, enlist help. Surround yourself with people who are positive, have a good attitude and want to help. While it may not be easy for you to ask for support, all you have to do is put yourself out there and allow others to assist you.

Peter C. Diamond is the author of Amplify Your Career and Life: 4 Steps to Evaluate, Assess and Move Forward.

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