Maybe because it's February but quite a few people have come up to me to talk about their career "plateau." In January, we come out of the block with our big New Year's resolutions only to find a month later, some of those goals are a little harder to attain than thought.
What is a career plateau? It's that feeling that you're in a job with nowhere up to go. There's senior positions available above you, just not available to you. Or you feel like you're just going through the motions in your job--you're quite competent but you're just bored. No new skills or knowledge are being learned.
I was once in this position myself. It happened to coincide right when I was also thinking of taking a break to have kids. I had a very nice newspaper job except I'd had it for five years and was getting bored. I wanted to do something different, but the only position offered to me was something that was a minimal step up. I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in newspapers either. After lots of thinking, I decided to make the jump to the television world, but it didn't happen until I faced these 3 hard truths, which I spoke about in this recent Facebook video.
1. Stop being the victim. For a while, I was bemoaning my predicament. I felt like my boss couldn't see how talented I was. I thought it was unfair other coveted positions were going to people just as competent or even less so than me. I thought "if only" X happened, then life would be much better. Only when a friend of mine questioned why I was complaining so much did I realize how much I was turning myself into a victim. I was so consumed with the thought that the world controlled my destiny. It wasn't until I realized I had the power to change my own course--and only I could do that--did I start to take steps to actually alter my future. Life can be unfair, no doubt, but only you can choose to do something about it.
2. You'll need to take risk. If you want to really change your future, you'll have to take some risks that can either be in the form of financial or "career" capital. In other words, going in a different direction sometimes means you'll have to either quit your job or find another one that might pay less or put you in a lower position. I don't recommend ever taking a lower-paying job but sometimes if you need to gain new skills or prove yourself in a different field, you will have to do that. For myself, since I knew I needed new broadcast skills I didn't have, I freelanced unpaid on the weekends at my local radio station; I spent thousands of dollars on training; and ultimately, I left my job because I knew it wasn't the right fit anymore.
3. What do you really want? Things didn't crystallize for me until I figured out what I wanted to do next. During the time I was not satisfied in my job, I toyed with several ideas on how to change--everything from quitting to write books to being a stay-at-home Mom. I knew I wasn't happy but I couldn't figure out what would make me happy. I'm often surprised when people come to me for advice--they know they're not happy but they're often unsure what exactly would make them happy. Sometimes people think they need a big career change when all they really want is a raise and a new title to make them satisfied. Figure out what it is you really want before you make any big decisions.