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How To Get Your Career Unstuck

Posted by | July 1, 2015 | Advice, Career

Via LinkedIn : !You’re bored out of your mind and can’t see an obvious next step within your current employer. You might be stuck behind an ungrateful boss, or perhaps you’ve just been doing the same job too long. No matter the details, that feeling of “being stuck” saps your energy and makes you feel like there is no hope for your career.

“THBPBPTHPT!” as they say in the cartoons. That’s sheer nonsense. You just need to break out of your rut. Here’s how to get started.

Practice irrational optimism. Your first challenge is to escape the negative mindset that’s enveloped you. Whatever it takes, create brief periods of time – an hour or an afternoon – during which you are irrationally optimistic. Forget about all the things that you perceive are holding you back. Just picture yourself as an incredible success, perhaps five years from now.

Read inspirational books. Watch movies and documentaries about people who overcame huge odds. Go to see inspirational speakers. Until you foster some optimism, you’ll be blind to the many possibilities that await you.

Create your bucket list of jobs. Make the longest possible list of dream jobs. These are not necessarily your next job; they are jobs you would love to have, in a perfect world. Think ridiculously big. Head of the World Bank. Publisher of the Washington Post. Founder of the next Google. Author of the number one bestselling leadership book.

You don’t have to create the list in one sitting. In fact, you’ll get the best results if you keep adding to your list over an extended period of time.

Fill in the details of your bucket list. As your list grows, look for patterns. Are you drawn to certain types of challenges? Do you crave prestige? Are all of your bucket list positions in education, while you work today in pharmaceuticals? Look for clues about what excites you and makes you feel energetic again.

Rethink your image. Go find a mirror and ask yourself whether you look and act the part of the positions at the top of your list. To make it easier for others to picture you in such roles, what do you have to change? Don’t limit yourself to just your appearance; look at your social media profiles, your resume and even the ways you interact with others. You might even want to lease a new car.

Now, start to make some improvements. Take your time, and do it right. Shift your image in a positive direction.

Proactively make new contacts. Use your bucket list as a guide to the type of opportunities you desire, and use LinkedIn and personal contacts to significantly expand your network. Go far beyond the people with whom you associate today; they have the “old you” image in their heads.

In my experience, you can reach much higher and further than you think, as long as you approach people with professionalism and confidence. Use these new contacts to learn about bucket list opportunities. I don’t just mean find jobs; I mean learn what it really would be like to be president of a private school, or on the board of a leading non-profit.

Make a step-by-step plan. At some point, create a short version of your bucket list. These are the positions you actually want to pursue. Using the knowledge you gain from your expanded network, create an action list for pursuing these positions. Make it as specific as possible, because little tasks are easier to execute than big ones. “Use LinkedIn to find authors who went to my college” is an actionable item. “Look for ambassador jobs” is so big it will paralyze you.

Rely on weak connections. When your big break comes, the odds are it won’t come from someone you’d name if you had to list the 50 people you know best. Most opportunities come from people at the very edges of your networks, such as the new contacts you’ll be making, or from someone you haven’t spoken to since 2004.

Say what you want. By the time you’ve gotten here, you’ve developed optimism and have upgraded your image. You’ve dreamed big and have filled in the details of how to get from Point A to Point C (your Dream Job after your Next Job). You have a growing list of new contacts.

All that’s holding you back is you. Don’t bury your dreams. Day after day, tell people what you really, truly want to do. Share your dream with them, and one of them will make that dream come true.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy my Kindle book, How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk. The book describes the philosophy I use to power my own career and life, which is based around this sentence:

Be generous and kind, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

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