How to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck in Your Career

During my last year of college, I bought a used car held together with optimism and rust. I lodged it in a snowbank that winter, and no matter how hard I hit the gas or tried to reverse, I was trapped.

Whether you’re starting out in your field or if you’ve been in the profession for a while, the feeling of being “stuck” might resonate with you. In our current reality, any of the following could apply: 

  • You took a position you might not have under other circumstances
  • You’ve taken on more or different work in your current role
  • You still really enjoy your work, but you imagine yourself doing something else
  • You’re currently looking for work

Feeling “stuck” might manifest as boredom, frustration, anxiety, or fear. New professionals might worry they’ve lost their way, while seasoned individuals may dream of greener grass. If you need a push forward— as I did to get out of the snow — on the next page are four ideas to spur your momentum.

Of course, not all “sticky” moments can be resolved with one Zoom chat or one journaling session. Recognize that you may be entering a larger process of vocational discernment for direction or change. Whether you’re facing a snowbank or a mountain however moving forward starts with your mindset. So if you’re feeling stuck, consider a small, achievable goal you can set into motion.

4 Brilliant Ideas to Spur Your Career Momentum

1. Tend Your Network

Jump onto LinkedIn (or your phone) and review your contacts. Who’s working for organizations you aspire to or using skills you’d love to grow? Are there mentors or peers you should catch up with? Set up a Zoom coffee chat or an information interview.

2. Feed Your Curiosity

What’s one topic you’ve been meaning to read up on? When’s the last time you read outside your typical genre? Look through podcasts, documentaries, or blogs and seek something that sparks your interest, work-related or not. (One favorite:

3. Do a “Skills Audit”

Make a list of moments that frustrated you recently. Does it reveal skills you could cultivate or deepen? Consider technology, software, certifications, emotional intelligence, cultural competencies, etc. Lower-cost and/or free training may be available and can boost your resume (or make you stronger in your current role).

4. Ponder “Unstuck”

Journal about what has you feeling most stuck; get your complaints/ worries out. Then, try freewriting for 10 minutes; what would “unstuck” look like? Review your notes and see if you can identify 2-3 items that are actionable, and 2-3 potential steps for each.

Sarah Todd, MEd ’13, is the Director of the Center for Career Development at Eastern University.

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2021 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.