When the Sunday night stomach churn expands through the entire weekend. When you embody the "Yes Man or Woman" you've always despised, because having a point of view feels futile. When anger turns to hopelessness and you return home each day, a pile of mush—hungry for comfort food, Sauvignon Blanc, and your reality TV binge dujour. This is what it looks like when you feel trapped in your job. If you don't recognize this picture, you're one of the lucky (or self-aware) few! For the rest of us, at some point in our careers, we've numbed ourselves into believing we're in a no way out situation with a healing pint of Talenti Sea Salt Caramel and some nasty words about the people and the situation that brought us here.
While it's true that external forces can create one of these career rock-bottom moments where we have a micro-managing boss, a colleague seemingly sabotaging our success or a workplace with endless hours and unrelenting deadlines, STAYING in that situation is a CHOICE Let me repeat this to make sure you get it.
Staying in the situation, continuing to tell yourself and others that you're trapped—IS YOUR CHOICE.
Here are 3 ways I work with clients to help them make the critical mindset shift that propels them out of their stuck situation.
1. What are you getting out of being trapped?
As human beings, we typically don't stay in a situation if we're not getting something out of it. You may be yelling at the screen right now. "What the f could I be getting out of this job? I hate it!" I get it, but if you had to think of one thing, what would it be? Often the answer is—permission to choose fear. Fear of rejection when applying for a new job. Fear that you won't find the money or the flexibility you have right now. Fear that none of your interview clothes fit. Fear that the next job will be even worse. Fear that you can't do anything else. These are all valid and understandable fears, but you are a smart and capable person who has conquered your fears before. Why are you letting them win now?
2. Acknowledge you're in a TEMPORARY crap-tastic situation
When you tell yourself that you're trapped, you cut off the potential of seeing any new opportunities or ways out of it. And you continue to create your "trapped" situation. By acknowledging that this moment is temporary, you remove the world of pressure that comes from the proposition of facing an entire lifetime of this feeling. Instead, you can focus on getting through this moment on this day. There's beautiful wisdom in the recovery program mantra, "One day at a time." All you need to do is focus on right now. The relief you feel from this one practice, will allow you to look up again while you're walking through the world and see clues and possibilities for your next move that would never have been available to you.
3. Channel your superpowers
By this time in your career, you've logged some significant successes. It may be hard to remember them in your current state, but dig deep. What's a career highlight that makes you beam with pride? What are the special qualities you have that helped you succeed? What are the things others would tell you are your strengths or your superpowers (because that's frankly more fun)? If you're not sure, go ask the people who have supported you in your career. While it may be hard for you to ask, I assure you, it will be easy for them to answer. Get this list of superhuman qualities together and write out a plan for how you're going to use each one to get yourself out of this temporary shit-show. When you have a plan, you are leveraging your strengths and taking action every day with a maniacal focus. It's only a matter of time until this sitch eats your dust!
So put down the Talenti and the remote control. You're done choosing fear, today.