Whether you’ve hit a wall with your job search or are feeling in a rut at your current role, feeling stuck happens to the best of us – and more often than you think. Having broken free from their stuckness after years of trial and error, here, career coach Dina Grishin and founder of mentoring community I Like Networking, Isabel Sachs, share their tips on finding your next breakthrough.
Are you wanting to get out of a 9-5, go freelance, pivot completely or move on to a new role? Whichever the case, feeling stuck is a common step in the transition process: our recent survey amongst the I Like Networking community found that 95% of respondents felt stuck in their careers.
In our talks on this subject, we found that people often don’t feel confident enough to take the first step. They feel overwhelmed by the idea of change, or as though they don’t have enough skills or experience to change directions.
Having been in this position ourselves – and broken free – we’ve shared some steps to get started and find your breakthrough.
Four tips on getting unstuck and finding your career breakthrough
💭 Don’t overthink the first step
There’s no one surefire strategy that will change your life. The best thing to do is to choose something that feels manageable and start there. Ensure you have a clear reason underpinning your desire to make a change. After all, you’re the only one who truly knows your goals, so you’ll be the only one who will really hold yourself accountable – at least in the beginning.
For instance, if you’re thinking about going freelance but have no idea where to start, consider taking small steps towards that goal, such as registering a domain name, or compiling five projects to put on a portfolio. You might even just call a freelancer you know to discuss their experience, or ask them to review your CV.
It doesn’t matter if the first step feels insignificant or imperfect. Momentum is important, so assess the feedback, adjust your plans and keep going. Taking just one step forward will be more impactful than planning out your whole career change but never acting on it.
🙇 Don’t do it alone
It can be helpful to talk things through with others – either peers who are experiencing the same thing, those who have already done it or those who want to do it. Talking to others can help you generate ideas, plan out strategies and create accountability. Plus, feeling less alone is always a good thing!
If you don’t know where to start, here are some ways:
Collaborate with your friends. Often, you have complementary skills to help each other with. If you know a website designer, for instance, consider asking them to help you with setting up your portfolio website while you do their copy.
Get advice from someone at a senior level. If you’re looking for career inspiration, seek someone whose work or career path you admire, contact them and offer to buy them coffee – people will often make the time (and love to talk about themselves!)
Join a community. This can be an interest group, meetup, or even just a get-together with colleagues every three months. There are tons of online communities such as Found & Flourish, Babes on Waves, Underpinned, I Like Networking and The Dots. Increasingly, communities are being built around every sort of interest – they can help you stay accountable and find people on a similar journey with which to exchange ideas.
⏳ Don’t wait to feel confident to act
Action leads to confidence – no one needs to actually feel confident before embarking on a big change!
Know that everyone feels nervous; it’s part of the human experience! But don’t wait for the nerves to go away completely, because the result of taking action is the gift of confidence.
If you’re thinking of switching careers and going into a completely new industry, for example, you might feel nervous – embrace it. And remember, you can always be honest about where you are in your journey. If you’re just starting out, more often than not, people will be super compassionate and supportive.
So go to those networking events, even if you’re not sure how to introduce yourself, what to say or how to make the most of your new contacts. You will feel so proud of yourself for going despite the nerves – and then next time, you’ll feel a lot more confident about going.
📈 Try different strategies
Are you trying the same behaviour and wanting different results?
There’s never one surefire way to get unstuck. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. You have to try many different things, and that doesn’t mean just looking at different jobs boards; it means actually trying different strategies. For instance:
If you’re just looking for jobs online and feel stuck, get offline and start talking to your network. They could be your friends, old colleagues or online acquaintances – get a coffee with them and let them know you’re looking. A lot of positions haven’t made it to job boards yet because their job scopes are still being discussed by those hiring.
Other times, you might be stuck because you’re holding yourself back. You’re applying for ‘safe’ roles that you know you can do, instead of going for those that are outside your comfort zone (but are going to be more financially and emotionally rewarding). So try applying for a different job title, industry, pay bracket, seniority level... or even try self-employment!
I myself (Dina) was stuck because I was only applying for 9-5 jobs. I call those my “quarter-life crisis” years – I changed jobs (and industries) every 18 months, in search of my calling. I finally got unstuck when I decided to try something completely different: giving this ‘self-employed’ thing a try. Seven years later, this is the longest I’ve ever held down a job and it feels like the calling I was looking for all along.
Getting that breakthrough can happen quicker than you ever imagined. All you have to do is take one action today. So pick one of these steps and get to it – your dream work is waiting!