Refresh your Career – plan a summer review

It’s nearly the end of June – wow! How did that happen? Before you disappear on your holidays make some time for a quick summer career review. Check in on what you’ve achieved so far this year and celebrate what’s gone well (maybe with a glass of fizz or a slice of cake!). Then think about the next 6 months – what do you need to refresh or tweak to keep your career aims on track?

Don’t feel you have time to stop and think about your career?  How long do you need? 5 – 10 minutes reflection time can be really powerful.

What does a mini-career review involve?

My 5 minute summer career review will give you chance to take a moment for reflection, ask yourself some searching questions and refocus your energy for the rest of the year.

Firstly find some quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.  Think about being somewhere different such as your garden and grab a notebook and a pen, and then we’re ready.

Reconnect to the career goal you set yourself at the beginning of the year (if you didn’t get round to setting any career goals this year read my blog on Why you need a road map for your career and use this opportunity to identify your career goals). Answer the following questions – make a note of your answers:

  • What has gone well in my career in the last 6 months?
  • What could have gone better?
  • Who have I enjoyed working with and why?
  • What have I learnt in that time both personally and professionally?
  • What still needs to happen?

The last question is really important as it gives you chance to focus on the next 6 months. You can identify what you need to do to realise your career goal whether that is changing careers or jobs, getting promotion or working on some new projects.

How to get motivated

  • Don’t get hung up on a SMART goal (they can make it a bit dull) instead phrase your goal in a way that is clear and motivating for you. Focusing towards something usually works best. For example ‘I want to be in a challenging more senior role in a larger company where I can learn x skills by the end of the year’. If you find yourself phrasing it in ‘away from’ style for example, ‘I don’t want to be in the same job next year’ try and turn it into something more motivating such as ‘ I want to be in a vibrant and dynamic new company where I can look forward to going to work’.
  • Keep your goal alive. Find what works for you but consider whether an image, a word, screensaver can represent your goal and keep it active and in your line of sight. So often we set a goal and then it gathers dust in a drawer – you need to be able to tap into it’s motivating energy on a regular basis. Or use futureme.org to send yourself regular reminder emails to keep you on track.
  • Celebrate what you have done – yes, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward. Don’t focus on on what you haven’t done yet.
  • Develop a motivation mindset. Check in on your self belief – do you feel you can achieve your goal or do you have doubts creeping in? Identify any blocks and think about how you can overcome them. I like to write them down and develop a strategy for each one to stop it circulating in my head! If you need some help overcoming your doubts and your inner critic have a look at my book Developing your Inner Coach.
  • Find an accountability buddy. Staying on track can be the hardest thing if you feel there is no accountability. Sharing this by reporting in and updating on progress can be really useful at making you get on with it. I run a monthly Accountability and Motivation programme for clients and they have found it incredibly helpful. If this is something you feel would make all the difference do get in touch.

Don’t just drift in your career, take control and use today as your motivation to stop, reflect and plan.

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How to change career without changing companies

Ok, this is a tricky situation to be in, how do you change career without changing companies? You absolutely love the company you work for – the people are amazing, the culture has a great vibe and it ticks all your boxes in terms of the work it does. The problem is you hate the role you have there and a career change is definitely on the cards. But you don’t want to leave, it’s your dream company.

Maybe you’re a journalist who secretly wants to be a graphic designer,  or a web developer  who wants to be a buyer, whatever your secret passion, all is not lost! Flip things on their head and you can realise you have an advantage in making your career change a reality because you’re already an asset to your dream company. And here’s how to capitalise on that:

Find some champions

Talk to your current boss and/ or HR about what you want to do and ask for help to make it a reality. Companies would rather retain good staff if they can – it’s expensive to recruit, induct and train new people. Make a business case for a move – it’s much easier for management to say yes if there are good business reasons for the change, rather than personal drivers. Your boss will be able to give you a good steer on the possibility and advocate on your behalf to make it happen.

And talk to the person doing the job you want to do and/or their boss. Find out what the skills are you’d need to demonstrate, identify what you need to learn and  where you’d  need to excel. Consider role models in other companies – what do they do exceptionally well? Be inspired.

Work out the Gaps

Assess how much you need to learn or know in order to make the change, and build a plan to fill the gaps including qualifications (check out online courses you can do in your spare time). But don’t forget to recognise all your transferable skills too, and your current experience means you have a lot to offer, especially your company knowledge and relationships.

Be proactive

Volunteer to take on extra projects to get experience in the team you want to move to . This might mean having to work harder or longer in the short term but will be a chance for your new team  to see what you can offer.

Regularly check out the company jobs board and stay open to possibilities – it could be a sideways move into the new team can be the first step to getting the role you want .

Build your Reputation

It may take a while to make your change happen depending on vacancies so in the meantime manage your reputation. Become known for someone who is engaged and enthusiastic, is ‘on it’ and brings a positive impact to teams.

And start networking and identifying the people in the organisation you need to impress. These are the key decision makers who will help you reach your destination. This kind of strategic networking can lead to mentoring opportunities and position you well for the future. Remember jobs can be created for someone that has potential and that the organisation doesn’t want to lose.

Check if you can fast track

Research if your current company offers sabbaticals, as this could be a way to speed up your career change. You could use a 3 or 6 month sabbatical to retrain, upskill, volunteer and get the experience you need for the new career. Then when you return from your break you will be a great position to move teams as soon as an opportunity is there.

Be strategic, remember your current value and steer your career deliberately but with patience as ultimately this will be rewarding to both you and your dream company. It is possible to change your career without changing your company.

This post originally appeared in The Ambition Plan

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7 Tips to avoid Career Stagnation

Did you head into work this morning with a smile on your face and a spring in your step? More accurate to call it more of a grimace and reluctant trudge? It could just have been Monday morning blues, or concern about one particular pressing project that is hanging over your head – but if you’re dragging yourself into the office on a regular basis, you could be suffering the effects of career stagnation.

Recently, I teamed up with consultants at Michael Page Recruitment to identify the seven signs of a stagnant career – from poor team dynamics to sub-par salaries – and how to solve them. Here are our top tips for going from stagnant to unstoppable…

1. You aren’t getting along with your team.

  • Take the time to work out your differences:

Negative emotion is contagious so unhappiness can spread like wildfire through a team, especially when there are poor team dynamics to begin with. Take time out as a group to work through your differences and clarify roles, responsibilities and value. Adding a new member to the mix could also work wonders, bringing a fresh perspective and renewed sense of team cohesion.

2. You feel out of the loop

  • Push for over- not under-communication:

When managers are stressed and overwhelmed, often the first things to be cancelled are team meetings and one-to-one sessions, leaving you stuck in limbo. Instead of making assumptions in the absence of information, push your leaders to communicate – either in person or via email, work social networks and notice boards.

3. You’re not learning anything new

  • Seek out the training opportunities you need:

When budgets are tight, training is often deprioritised – but this isn’t reason to let your skills stagnate. Any training you undertake ultimately benefits the business, so approaching your manager with a list of well-researched trainings options (backed by a business case) is likely to go down well.

4. Your next step is shrouded in mystery

  • Establish a career path treatment plan:

Allowing your career to plateau may suit some people, but most of us are looking for promotion or professional challenge. If your  next step isn’t clear, work with your manager to define a  career development plan that you can review and tackle together – and remember, progression can be horizontal as well as vertical.

5. Promotions are few and far between

  • Consider your options beyond a raise:

A sub-standard salary or the prolonged promise of promotion is one of the strongest de-motivators out there – but it can often mask anunderlying issue. Working out whether it’s just more money you’re after or if you’re actually seeking additional responsibility and opportunity to grow will help you address next steps with your manager.

6. Leaders aren’t leading

  • Ask for top-down direction:

Leadership sets the culture and performance of an organisation – so if you don’t trust your senior team, you’re probably looking elsewhere. Before you seek direction elsewhere, push those above you to communicate their vision for the company so you can make an informed call as to whether you’re willing to remain part of their journey too.

7. Your colleagues are leaving left, right and centre

  • Think before you follow suit:

Watching your team mates leave one after the other can be disconcerting – do they know something you don’t? Even if others are experiencing career stagnation it doesn’t mean you are too. A new job might be just what you need, but it’s important to assess your situation individually before following the flock.

Not sure whether you’re suffering from career stagnation? Determine how much room you have to grow in your current role, and what your next step should be, by completing the Michael Page Career Growth Quiz.

This article was originally published in Female First.

Photo courtesy of  Kevin Grieve @Unsplash.com

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How to not hate networking

Hear the word ‘Networking’ and you may experience a sense of dread and even loathing!  You know it’s good for your career and it forces you out of your comfort zone, but you still resist! The image of being stuck in a room full of people you don’t know, having to sell yourself in some way, can strike fear into many a heart! And I have to confess, up to a year ago, I felt the same way. I dreaded the seemingly clique groups and, having to make small talk felt excruciating. However, I now find myself unexpectedly co-running a networking group for small businesses, which I absolutely love!

The group is going from strength to strength, and, the 2 fabulous women I run it with and I, work hard to make it a relaxed and enjoyable experience. We create a really welcoming vibe, and make sure no one is left on their own. We have activities and speakers to take the pressure off  the ‘small talk’ element, but also make room for the valuable connections to be made. The experience of crafting our network culture has made me reflect on what you can do to make your own networking experience a more positive one.

Here’s some tips to start loving rather than hating networking:

Why are you networking?

Being clear about why you are networking can help you get more out of it, and also make it more meaningful. Check if any of these resonate:

  • You want to learn more about your industry – Networks often have interesting speakers on current topics or trends. It’s an easy way to stay up to date or get ideas.
  • You want to increase your contacts to develop your career or to do your job better – Networking events are all about making connections. Often you can research who is going in advance, and people are also often willing to introduce you to colleagues or their contacts. Don’t forget your business cards, if relevant, and to follow up on LinkedIn.
  • You need to be seen – Raising your profile can be essential if you’re thinking of a move, looking for a mentor or establishing yourself in your field. Be strategic about connecting with contacts who can offer speaking opportunities, guest blogging or are movers and shakers in your industry. Remember the rule of reciprocity and consider how you can help them first.
  • You are curious  – Networking can be really interesting, after all they are full of people with interesting stories and journeys. Approaching your networking with an air of curiosity can be empowering. It takes the focus off you and allows you to develop deeper more meaningful connections.

Which group is best?

There are many different networking groups or meetups you can join. Try out a few before you commit. They will all be different in format, rules and culture so find one that suits you and where you feel most authentic.

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The environment you network in is important, so be aware of how relaxed you feel, how you’re welcomed, topics discussed, openness of the groups to newcomers, surroundings, and whether it will help you achieve what you want from networking.

Have strategies for the bits you hate

Knowing you can cope with the bits of networking you find most challenging will help you feel confident.

  • Arriving and knowing no one! – Check the guest list before you come and identify someone you want to talk to, and ask the host to introduce you. Or approach a small group and ask if you can join them as you’re new. Be proactive – what’s the worst that could happen?
  • Finding yourself with no one to talk to – People do circulate and you could find that suddenly you are alone. You could look out for someone else who is standing alone and make the first move to introduce yourself – they will be very grateful to you! Or head to the refreshments for a refill and strike up a conversation over the biscuits.
  • Getting stuck with the network bore! – There are some people who don’t pick up on social cues and dominate the conversation or can talk at length on subjects like GDPR. Let’s face it most people will glaze over! Don’t get stuck, thank them for the chat, explain you want to meet as many people as possible today and offer to introduce them to someone else. Then move on.
  • You hate small talk – Research some interesting topics before the event that are relevant to your co-networkees. Move the conversation on from the weather to something more meaty as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

For every meeting set yourself a mini goal to stay motivated and to feel a sense of achievement. It could be a certain number of people that you want to talk to, or even volunteering to deliver a talk on a particular topic at a future meeting. Who knows you may end up co-running the network, just like me!

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Scared of not fulfilling your potential? How to step out of your comfort zone

What have you been holding back from doing at work because it makes you feel scared or vulnerable? What are you avoiding because you know it’s a challenge? Are you feeling that you’re stuck in your comfort zone?

We are all very familiar with the term ‘comfort zone’ but what exactly is it and what part does it play in developing and sustaining your career confidence? There is actually some science behind the term. Your comfort zone is a behavioural space where what you do and how you do it fits into a pattern and a routine that minimizes stress and risk. It’s safe and provides you with a state of mental security. In this state you get regular happiness, low anxiety and reduced stress  which can create a steady level of performance at work. It’s comfortable!!

There is a BUT though, because to be at your best and deliver maximum performance you need a state of relative anxiety. This is a state where your stress levels are slightly higher than normal, known as Optimal Anxiety, and it can be found just outside your comfort zone! It is important to remember that you are not looking for high stress as this can damage performance, you are looking for enough challenge for it to be enjoyable but not where it’s going to be keeping you awake at night!

Benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone

The reason it’s hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone is that it is our natural tendency to seek an anxiety neutral, comfortable place but there are huge benefits to stepping out. You will:

  • Feel more confident about trying new things and it becomes easier to push boundaries. You know that because you have done it once successfully you can do it again.
  • Find it easier to cope with new and unexpected changes at work. Fear and uncertainty are common place in life and work, and knowing you can deal with them, and manage any risk builds both your confidence and resilience.
  • Be better at your job. Comfort kills productivity. A little bit of stress and challenge enables you to learn new skills, be more productive and get a buzz and satisfaction from pushing your personal boundaries.
  • Be able to cope with failure. Failure helps you to learn and develop. By testing your limits and stretching yourself you will build your experience and manage times when things don’t work out successfully.
  • Expand your world. As humans we learn and grow each time we push through a comfort zone, and when you have mastered one there is another one waiting for you!
  • Feel good! When you push through a comfort zone you get a rush of both adrenaline and dopamine which make you feel good and gives you a buzz. They can also spur you on to challenge yourself more and be ambitious with your career.

So lots of great reasons to just do it! Make a list of all the things you would like to do at work. It’s ok to start slowly and take small steps, remember each  comfort zone you master takes you to another. making it manageable, and looking for Optimal Anxiety is the key to pushing through the zone. Finally, enjoy the experience – don’t let fear hold you back!

Need more help with boosting your confidence sign up for my Free 5 day Boost your Confidence challenge or for my online course The Confidence Plan: How to be more confident at work, and use the code EARLYBIRD01 to get 20% off the price.

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Time for a Spring Career Review

Spring is finally here! After a long and cold winter, the warm weather and blossoming trees have arrived at last. Spring is always a great time to check in and do a career review for the first quarter of 2018. Are you achieving what you set out at the beginning of the year?

We often feel we don’t have time to stop and spend time thinking BUT it’s really important to build in review time to both celebrate what you have achieved and decide how you want to use the rest of the year to get closer to your goal.

How to carry out a 5 Minute Career Review

My 5 minute career review will give you chance to take a moment for reflection, ask yourself some searching questions and refocus your energy for the rest of the year.

Firstly find some quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, maybe think about being somewhere different such as your garden and grab a notebook and a pen, and then we’re ready.

Reconnect to the career goal you set yourself at the beginning of the year (if you didn’t get round to setting any career goals this year read my blog on Why you need a road map for your career and use this opportunity to identify your career goals) and answer the following questions – make a note of your answers:

  • What has gone well in my career in the last 6 months?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What have I learnt in that time both personally and professionally?
  • Who have I enjoyed working with and why?
  • What still needs to happen?

The last question of the career review is really important as it gives you chance to focus on the next 9 months and what you need to do to realise your career goal whether that is changing careers or jobs, getting promotion or working on some new projects to gain new skills and develop your career.

How to get motivated

  • Don’t get hung up on a SMART goal (they can make it a bit dull) instead phrase your goal in a way that is clear and motivating for you. Focusing towards something usually works best, for example ‘I want to be in a challenging more senior role in a larger company where I can learn x skills by the end of the year’. If you find yourself phrasing it in ‘away from’ style for example, ‘I don’t want to be at this year’s xmas party’ try and turn it into something more motivating such as ‘ I want to be in a vibrant and dynamic new company where I can look forward to going to the xmas party’.
  • Keep your goal alive. Find what works for you but consider whether an image, a word, screensaver can represent your goal and keep it active and in your line of sight. So often we set a goal and then it gathers dust in a drawer – you need to be able to tap into it’s motivating energy on a regular basis. Or use futureme.org to send yourself regular reminder emails to keep you on track.
  • Celebrate what you have done – yes, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward. Don’t focus on on what you haven’t done yet.
  • Develop a motivation mindset. Check in on your self belief – do you feel you can achieve your goal or do you have doubts creeping in? Identify any blocks and think about how you can overcome them. I like to write them down and develop a strategy for each one to stop it circulating in my head! If you need some help overcoming your doubts and your inner critic have a look at my book Developing your Inner Coach.
  • Find an accountability buddy. Staying on track can be the hardest thing if you feel there is no accountability so sharing this by reporting in and updating on progress can be really useful at making you get on with it. I run a monthly Accountability and Motivation programme for clients and they have found it incredibly helpful. If this is something you feel would make all the difference do get in touch.

Don’t just drift in your career, take control and use Spring as your motivation to stop, reflect and plan.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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Feeling stuck? It’s time to declutter your career

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising? It’s inspirational. It got me thinking about the clutter we carry around or are immersed in as part of our careers. What would happen if we applied some of KonMarie’s principles to our career clutter. We all know the joy  you get when you’ve successfully tidied your sock or knicker drawer, finally getting rid of the things that don’t fit. Imagine the kind of joy you could experience from giving your career a declutter!

If you haven’t read her book, let me introduce her – Marie is a Japanese Organising consultant. Her first job was at a Shinto shrine and this experience informs much of her work. She says ‘A Shinto shrine is a place where there are no unnecessary things and our thoughts become clear. It is a place where we appreciate all the things that support us. It is where we review and rethink ourselves.’

When considering our career choices wouldn’t we all benefit from a visit to a Shinto Shrine to access that reflection and clarity. When we don’t enjoy what we do it is hard to think clearly about what is next for us in our career especially when we are weighed down by ‘stuff’.

What can clutter our career?

It is helpful to identify what is actually cluttering up your career so you can then tackle it. If your career feels a bit like your spare room, where you dump everything then it’s definitely time for a clear out. Here’s what could be cluttering your career:

  • Reputation – may be you’re stuck with being perceived in a certain way at work or maybe you have a reputation or label you don’t want
  • Baggage – things you’ve brought with you along the way – bad experiences, poor appraisals, one off comments that have stuck with you
  • Skills – the ones you don’t want to use anymore. Maybe you’ve managed a team and can do it well but you don’t really enjoy it
  • People – loyalty to colleagues, family expectations, manager’s demands, unsupportive friends
  • Routines – things we do at work for very little purpose or reason
  • Stress and overwhelm – if the pressure is bordering on the unhealthy type causing you sleepless night and anxiety, or you just can’t see the wood from the trees
  • Your CV – trying to cram everything you’ve ever done onto 2 pages can leave it looking cluttered and unclear

How to declutter

The KonMarie approach is to lovingly connect with your belongings and then focus on what you want to keep, because it sparks joy or is necessary, rather than focusing on what you want to get rid of.

Thinking about your career focus your energy on what you want to retain, mentally thanking the things or people you are no longer going to focus on. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Who supports me? Who gives me energy? Who do I want to spend more time with?
  • Which routines motivate me? Which add value to what I do?
  • Which skills do I enjoy and am good at? Which do I want to use more of?
  • What do I do that boosts my confidence? What energises me at work? What gives me a ‘spring in my step’?
  • What memories/experiences trigger feelings of positivity about my career? How can I capture more of them?
  • What haven’t  I touched in a long time? Is it still relevant?

By focusing on the positive aspects of your career life that you want to keep you can see more clearly the parts you that you need to say goodbye to. The next step is to acknowledge and say goodbye to those elements which you feel weigh you down and create negativity in your career.

Identify the things, routines, people, etc. that you want to “recycle” or “throw out” and set about lovingly letting them go. For example, if that colleague who you had got into a ‘moan cycle’ with invites you to coffee to talk about the latest office change, you can be clear that’s not something you don’t want to do anymore. And so on with the other elements.

The Result

The KonMarie method promises you will reach a place where ‘you are surrounded by things that provide clarity, unencumbered by ‘baggage’ or things that don’t fit, with less anxiety about the future.’

After your career clear out you will be able to focus on what you want for your career with the clarity and simplicity that decluttering brings. Enjoy!

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Need a secret weapon to boost your career? Find a mentor

Are you at the stage in your career where having a mentor seems of most benefit to your development? Perhaps you’re feeling you are almost ready for the next step but are in need of both support and challenge to get there.

The benefits of having a mentor can be very powerful whatever level of seniority you hold. They can help you gain insight into your industry and share their knowledge, improve your performance and plan your personal development, act as a sounding board, and help lessen the isolation of seniority. They can also help you learn how to become a mentor yourself.

But while having a mentor is a good idea, unless your current company has a mentoring scheme in place (and some do) the reality of trying to find the right one can be challenging.

Think about what you need:

  • Be clear about what you need. To find the right mentor you need to have thought through what you want from the relationship. Do you want to learn from a role model, are you looking for direction in filling any gaps in your experience, are you wanting access to networks and contacts or simply a sounding board?
  • Be clear about your mentor’s background – is it important that they are in your industry or area of expertise or would you benefit from having someone from a completely different field. Think about seniority as well – they don’t need to be older than you but they do need to have had more experience.
  • Think about chemistry – what personality traits or behaviours do you respond well to?

How to find a good mentor

There are many routes to find a mentor so experiment with a few:

  • Think broadly and consider who is doing what you want to be doing, in the way you want to do it but is 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role or industry.
  • Review if there is someone in your current company who inspires you, embodies your values and who you view as a good role model.
  • Talk to your line manager as part of your career development. They have contacts and because they know you well, they should be able to recommend people in your sector who could be a match for you.
  • Use your own networks and LinkedIn to identify someone who meets the criteria you have developed for your mentor requirements. Connect with new people who you can help, and who will find it a mutually-rewarding and beneficial experience to support you.
  • Consider a trained mentor. There are organisations who act as portals to match you with a mentor. These can be sector or business specific, and the advantage is that the mentor has been trained and is willing to take on a mentee. Mentorsme.co.uk partners employees of small businesses with business professionals, and mentorset.org.uk provide independent mentors for women working in STEM.

How to make the approach 

Once you have identified your potential mentor you need to get on their radar to make it easier for them to say ‘yes’ when you do approach them. It may require a bit of time and work but it will be worthwhile.

  • Work out how you can you be helpful to them – if it’s appropriate follow their work, tweet their posts, comment on their blogs, share updates, etc.
  • Think about how can you meet them – are they speaking at or attending an event? Make sure you introduce yourself and follow up with an email.
  • Make yourself an attractive mentee – demonstrate you’re open, flexible, eager to learn and committed to your development. Be active and contribute to debates in for example, LinkedIn groups where they may be a member; volunteer to take on projects which may get you exposure in your industry, write an article and get it published in a relevant publication.
  • Then when you’ve laid the ground work you can think about an actual approach. Ideally, if one of your contacts knows them then they can make an initial introduction for you. If not contact them to arrange a coffee or a meeting at their office, or email them. Be clear about what you are looking for from the mentoring relationship with them and the commitment involved. Set out the benefits to them and why you have chosen them. Most people will be flattered to be asked to be a mentor, so don’t be scared of making the pitch, the only difficulty may be demands on their time.

How to make it work

Good mentor relationships only work if there are clear agreed boundaries on both sides. Once your mentor has said ‘yes’ then you need to agree an informal contract on how you are going to work together. This can include how often you will meet and for how long, the length of the mentor relationship, confidentiality and goals for the relationship. Building in a review after 3 months can also be a good idea so if it’s not working for whatever reason both sides have an opportunity to end the relationship.

Done well mentoring can be inspiring and empowering for both sides but like any partnership the keys to that success are having chemistry, ground rules and commitment.

Stuck in a career rut? Feel like you’re going nowhere? Here’s how to make it work for you.

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There are many metaphors for careers: path, ladder, carousel, journey  – all giving a sense of movement, of rising and climbing, but what should you do when you feel stuck in a career rut and start describing your career as a plateau?

The dictionary definition of a plateau is a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress – no wonder it’s not something many people aspire to!

There can be a number of reasons why you might get into a career rut or feel like your plateauing – sometimes through no fault of your own you have simply stopped developing your career.

  • Structural Plateaus occur when the organisation simply has no more opportunities for you to move into. If you’re working in a small organisation then this can happen quite quickly, and even in a large organisation it will happen sooner or later to everyone.
  • Content Plateaus happen when you have become very good at what you do and feel there is simply no more challenge left in the role.
  • Contribution Plateau is within your control, but for whatever reason, boredom, fear of change or lack of engagement you have simply stopped developing and looking for opportunities to learn, develop new skills and add value. This is a dangerous plateau to find yourself on because becoming resistant to change and learning in today’s fast evolving workplace can leave you isolated and vulnerable.
  • Life Plateau can occur when you have chosen to plateau either due to caring responsibilities outside work, often women returning to work may find themselves plateauing while their children are small, or it can happen because there are activities or passions beyond work that you want to throw yourself into.
  • Alternatively you can voluntarily plateau when you love what you do and you know the next move will take you into a managerial role where you don’t get to do what you love anymore.

Can a plateau be ‘good’ for your career?

As plateauing seems static you might be inclined to think it is not a good thing, that somehow you will fall behind, miss the boat or lose out in some way, but there can be advantages to a career plateau:

  • Plateaus give you time to step back and take a look at where you are, what you have achieved, and lets you ‘check in with yourself’ to make sure you are heading in the direction in which you want to travel. If you are climbing a hill it’s nice to be able to stop for a while and enjoy the view rather than rushing to the top.
  • Similarly in our careers, taking time for reflection is  important for our self-development. Research has shown that having meaning in our work is vital to our career happiness, so having time to evaluate  how meaningful you find your work can also give you clues as to your next move.
  • Plateaus also  give you time and space to learn – this can allow you to become more expert or specialist in what you do, or simply time to be able to focus on acquiring and absorbing knowledge, maybe it will be the opportunity to study or simply consolidate what you already know.

How to avoid getting stuck

Think strategically and have a plan – how long do you want to plateau for? It’s easy to get stuck in a career rut so set a deadline for re-engaging with moving upwards or undertaking change. You can always review the deadline but without it you run the risk of stagnation.

Re-frame success for this period of your life. Challenge yourself to find success from sources other than pay rises or new job titles – so whether its taking on a new project, learning a new skill or becoming more ‘expert’ in your field celebrate in the same way you would a promotion.

Consider a sideways move to a  new organisation if you feel that it is structural plateauing that is holding you back – the new experiences in a different workplace  can be valuable when you are ready for the next upwards move.

Use your time well – if you dream of starting your own business one day then while you are plateauing in your current career, and have the mental space, you can start planning and researching what you would need to do to begin an entrepreneurial journey. Even consider developing this in parallel to your existing career – working 5pm-9pm on your own business can be energising after your normal 9-5pm.

Whatever happens don’t view your career rut as negative – see it as an opportunity so that when you’re ready to engage with change or move up you are in a good position to continue with your career journey.

This article originally appeared on Guardian Careers site – read the original here.

New Year, Same Career or will this year be different?

So 2017 is here and you find yourself making the same old resolution about changing jobs, finding a new career, and yet you know you made the same resolution last year, and nothing has changed. Well, firstly you’re not alone, statistics show that only 8% of the population making resolutions actually keep them.

But maybe this year it’s time to explore why your job is not fulfilling you and whether there are things you can do to make it more satisfying.

Studies have shown that if work is meaningful it contributes to job satisfaction and happiness, so forget about the extrinsic rewards – company car, more money, a bigger job title – we know they don’t bring long term work happiness. Let’s think about whether what you are doing every day feels meaningful.

What is meaningfulness? It is quite a subjective concept but it can be broken down into:

  • A sense of purpose – how does your work contribute to the greater good? Is it useful to others or to society? How does your company or senior management communicate the impact of its work on society? Do your values align with the organisational values?
  • A sense of choice – Is your work autonomous? Can you choose how you do it/how you use your skills and judgement?
  • A sense of competence – Are you valued for your contribution? Do you feel good at what you do and are you recognised for it?
  • A sense of progress – Are there opportunities to develop your skills, improve yourself and work on new challenges?

Answering these questions may give you clues to what is missing currently in your job that you could change in order to move closer to meaningfulness, or if you realise that your current role may never give you what you need then at least you are making that New Year resolution consciously, and have a checklist of what you need from your next career.

Want some help understanding what is meaningful for you, get in touch – I’d love to help.