Feeling Stuck in Your Job? How to Get Unstuck


The persistent weak economy and bleak labor market has left many workers feeling frustrated, tired and burnt out.

Opportunities in the labor market are few and far between, and many employees are starting to feel a little stuck. Here are some facts to consider:

  • A 2011 survey by Mercer found 32% of Americans indicated they wanted to leave their job
  • A recent Right Management survey found 65% of Americans are unhappy in their job

The feeling of being trapped in your current position is understandable, but it’s important to stay motivated and looking to advance and make changes to keep progressing forward.  Here are some steps to help get your career back on track:

Confront the Problem. Step back and ask yourself why you are unhappy. What is it that is really making you feel stuck at your job? Will leaving your job actually solve the problem?

Taking a moment to reflect and identify the problem will avoid being overly reactive and do something you will regret later in your career.

Write Your Own Job Description. Before you can make a change, you need to know what that change is going to look like. Get specific and detail what elements, roles and objectives would make you happier in your job. Getting unstuck starts with knowing what unstuck looks like, and putting pen to paper can be a very revealing and powerful exercise.   

Look for Internal Opportunities . Sometimes the best opportunities are right under your nose, so start by looking in-house for a new job. If you work for a midsize to large company there may be a lot of opportunities to move internally. If you are looking for a new challenge, flexible work, or more money the answer may be to just ask for it. Start by talking to trusted colleagues, your manager, and Human Resources to find out what kind of internal options may be available. If you don’t ask you’ll never know!

Commit to Exploring Opportunities. Getting a new job or becoming more satisfied with your current gig should be treated as another job. Determine a set amount of time you are willing to dedicate to job searching and create a job-hunting schedule. Set specific weekly and monthly goals for job-hunting activities like number of applications submitted, networking events attended, professional groups joined and interviews completed.

Reach Out to Your Network . The job market has and always will be about who you  know.  We all know more people than we realize, yet we fail to truly leverage these relationships. Those who tend to land on their feet are the ones who have strong networks and aren’t afraid to use them. It’s also important to have support from your friends. Re-engage your friends and find ways to get in front of those who can help you. Social media tools like LinkedIn and Facebook are a great way to reconnect with old colleagues as well as make new ones. The bottom line is to find the people who have the jobs you want and get immersed  in their world.

If you are serious about getting yourself unstuck and making a change this is the point where you must move from fantasy to reality. It’s one thing to talk about making a change, but it’s entirely another to actually do it.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook