By Jack Kelly, WeCruitr.io CEO
You’d love to start the new year filled with excitement and high hopes for your career. For many, unfortunately, just because we flip the page in a calendar, it doesn’t mean their work-life miraculously changes overnight. For some people, things are not working out at all. You take on more of a mental and emotional burden, as society says you should be charging into 2020 feeling great and ready to succeed.
Although we have a reported red-hot economy with record levels of employment, not everyone is benefiting or doing well. Sometimes, it’s due to matters out of their control. Your company may be relocating jobs to lower-cost cities and countries or deploying artificial intelligence and new technologies, which results in the loss of a job.
Sometimes you’re in a good job, but you feel stuck. There is a roadblock on the corporate ladder. Your managers are not going anywhere soon and you can’t see any path forward. You can be in an industry that is undergoing serious changes and you’re beset by anxiety over what to do next. It’s especially difficult when you’re over the age of 40, earning a certain salary level and it becomes clearly obvious that companies would rather hire a younger and less costly person. Alternatively, you may be relatively young, possess fantastic abilities, but are overlooked because you don’t have some grey hairs.
The challenge is that when bad things happen, most people become shell shocked. They are used to a pretty good run of a career and have never really confronted any major setbacks. Their initial response is disbelief that their job is going nowhere or may be eliminated. It’s easy for them to pretend that this isn’t happening and the circumstances will change in their favor. The problem is that the longer you ignore the upcoming train coming your way, the harder it is to get off the tracks to safety.
Here is what you need to do if your career is hitting a wall and you’re paralyzed with fear, indecision, disbelief and frustration.
Don’t Ignore The Problem—Acknowledge What’s Happening
It’s the path of least resistance to hope the problem will just go away. You scoff at the thought that you could be replaced by technology or a junior person in India. The natural tendency is to think that your boss will come around and recognize how awesome you are, your nasty co-workers will change their tune and become your allies, the company pulls out of its death spiral or the takeover by your competitor will never happen.
You need to acknowledge what is actually happening. Hopefully, things will work out your way, but you can’t depend upon hope alone. It’s okay to want to believe that things will improve, but you need to plan for the worst-case outcome. You need to accept the reality and start planning for your next move.
It’s Not Just You
If you read the biographies of successful people, such as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling and Albert Einstein, you’ll notice that they’ve all failed—sometimes often and spectacularly. It’s extremely rare for someone to steadily climb forward in their career without any major setbacks.
The challenge is that society likes to talk about and reward those who are already successful. We are beset online and in the media with celebrities who have wealth, privilege and fame. When you scroll through Facebook and Instagram, you see a cultivated awesome lifestyle of your friends that makes you feel inadequate.
This is not reality. In real life, most people fail many times. They face job losses, businesses that go bankrupt, make investments that blow up and miss out on the big promotion. What makes matters tough for you is that our culture doesn’t like to talk about the people who are struggling, so you feel alone.
The key is to recognize that the best and brightest understand that the need to accept and deal with rejection, failure and bad luck. They view it as all part of the game. By recognizing it’s not just you, but that everyone is going through the same travails, it could offer some solace and peace of mind.
Push Yourself To Engage
When you experience a career setback, it’s natural to withdraw. You don’t want to have to tell your family and friends that you lost your job or the promotion you told everyone about didn’t materialize. To avoid awkwardness in social settings, people pull back. They withdraw into a cocoon in their sanctuary, which is home.
This is the direct opposite of what you need to do. When you are experiencing career-related challenges, that’s the time to engage with people You need to let others know what’s happening; they may have some answers for you or leads on new opportunities. They may have been down the same road and have some wisdom to impart. It feels better to get things off of your chest by sharing with others.
If you stop taking proactive actions, you actually move backwards. In science, an object in motion stays in motion. Once something stops, it’s hard to start up again. You need to keep pushing forward—even if you only want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed all day.
Come Up With A Game Plan
No one is going to knock on your door with a great new job or opportunity. You need to make your own breaks in life. Instead of being a victim, take aggressive bold actions. If you think your job is in peril, demand to speak with your boss and ask her what is really going on and how you will be impacted.
It’s a little scary to start a job search, but that may be the best path forward if you don’t have a future where you are. Put together a résumé, enhance your LinkedIn profile, network with former co-workers and reach out to recruiters.
It could be that your career is not cutting edge and there is less need for your services. There may be little hiring and not be many jobs in your field. It’s time to reassess and think about a career pivot. It won’t be too easy, but it may be the best option if all other doors are closed off to you.
Remind Yourself How Remarkable You Are
When you are in a tight spot, it’s not uncommon to lose confidence. You start doubting yourself and second-guessing all of your decisions. Negative thoughts keep running through your mind. Sometimes, these thoughts become really dark.
It’s important for your mental and emotional health, as well as your career, to counter the tendency to lose faith in yourself. When you find this happening, remind yourself of all of your past accomplishments. Stop ruminating and start reciting all of the good qualities that you possess. List all of the reasons why you are special and what skills and experiences you have to offer that any company would love to have.
Surround yourself with a support group consisting of family and friends who can cheer you on and pick you up when you feel down.