Stuck In A Career Rut? Play Career Chess!

If you’re feeling stuck in the middle lately and feeling like the routine you are running is getting tired, then it’s time to do something about it. When you get stuck in that rut, it can feel lonely, isolating and worst of all boring. You start to question what value you’re adding, you look around and it feels hopeless. No place to go and you feel stuck. It would come in cycles for me. If I started feeling bored, I became disengaged, and that was a recipe for unhappiness as an employee.

And I knew when it was happening that I needed to quickly get out of the rut. So I did a few things that may be of help you:

1. I moved … by walking around and talking to people, and reconnecting with my network

2. I changed … by mixing up my daily routine

3. I remembered … where I got my energy from, and that part of my job that excited me

4. I took a break …  perhaps a day off, or a full vacation for some mental relaxation

5. I day dreamed … I thought about what was next for me and where I wanted to go (the sky was the limit)

After I did any of what I mentioned above, I reflected, and thought hard about what was next for me. I threw out nets to my network and I got a sense of what was out there. I asked what others were doing on a periodic basis. I looked for people in roles and positions that interested me, and where I thought I’d be a good fit.

Once you do this, zone in on what it is that you want to do. Talk to people in those roles, look at the job descriptions and the skills needed to succeed in that role and develop a plan (a career experience shopping list if you will) to get you ready for that role. It takes time and effort, but it also helps build career stamina and relationships, and hopefully it gets you your energy or your mojo back.

This is an important point. Don’t be delusional about who you are and what you can do. This may seem counter to step five above, but it’s not. Dream big, think about who you want to be and the role you want to be in. Then think really hard about who you are now, what your skills are now, and what’s a realistic path to follow in achieving your dreams. Get feedback from others, thinking three to five years out. Reverse engineer your career from that point.

I had a colleague tell me once that I should learn to play my career like I was playing chess. To be strategic about it. Think three to five moves out. If the path ahead of you looks blocked, work around it by going lateral. Maybe even take one step back to take two steps forward. You may feel stuck, but it’s really up to you to figure out how you’re going to get unstuck. Don’t let the game end because the move you need to make isn’t easily apparent to you.

Plan, be smart, dream big, think strategically … and learn to play “chess” with you career.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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