Feeling the Rut? Let’s Get Moving!!
Are you feeling like you are trapped on a wheel?
Like no matter what you do or how hard you work, you don’t feel like you have achieved what you wanted to achieve?
You are working so hard however you are not certain what for? You kept on reminding yourself, over and over again that time will make things better, but it never happened. You hate the mornings, and nothing motivate you to get out of the bed and get going?
Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are not alone! This happens to best of us. I have been there, not once couple of times (If you want to know the details, I have been stuck in the rut twice within twelve months time span). I know a plenty of professionals who had been there. What’s very important is you admit that you are stuck in disappointments. Once you admit it, moving away is easy (well, you need to be prepared to do something about it).
The first time I felt I was stuck in the rut, when I was about to be promoted to a senior manager level at a big four accounting firm. I was not sure why I was so frustrated about my work which I once loved. I kept on saying to myself “look at the bright side all your hard work is going to be paid off, you are up for the promotion”. I was even trying to flatter myself thinking “I am the only woman of colour who is nominated for this promotion and If I get this promotion, I will be a trail blazer”.
That said, my self-motivation propaganda did not work as I expected it to be. I was questioning my own motivation to be promoted over and over again. I was an allrounder at my workplace. Apart from my day job of being an audit manager, I was engaged in a lot of other activities which I absolutely loved, and I knew I was good at. To say the least, I was a steering committee member for the firm’s Women’s Network, I was a technical training instructor who delivered trainings in Ireland, UK & also in firm’s European region, I was the elected Irish representative for the firms Employee forum where I closely worked with firms UK & Ireland leadership team, (the list goes on!). All of these exposures shaped me as a professional and set me above my peers.
However, deep down I was not sure why I was doing what I was doing. I was not sure what difference will this new promotion make apart from changing my title. It didn’t appear to me this promotion is going to change anything but going to keep me away from what I am truly passionate about (because I was going to be busier)!! Do you want to know where I went wrong?
I did not admit my own feeling of stuck in the rut and did not look for help. In the end, it cost me the promotion as I was unable to explain at the interview what are my motives to get promoted!! When I realised, If I had admitted the fact that I was stuck in the rut and If I had a plan to get out of it, I would have gotten the promotion. I learnt the lesson and next time when I was in a similar situation, rather than ignoring how I feel, I admitted that I am frustrated at what I do and where I am. Followed by an action plan to getting out of the rut. If I have not acted upon the second time around, you probably could not have been reading this as we speak! With that experience,
I am going to share what steps to be taken when you feel the rut;
Embrace the Regret
It all begins with embracing your own feeling of regret. When you try to understand you are not happy about what you’re doing, It’s more than half of the solution to the problem. I should warn you; this is not an overnight process. The process begins with trying to keep track of when you get disoriented, when you no longer feel the drive to keep going, when you start to question where you stand etc. Start journaling every time you feel them. You need to be honest in this process. Do not try to downplay your feelings. If you pretend those feelings do not exist and sweep them under the rug, they will continue to build-up until it adversely affects your career and more importantly your mental health. When you keep writing down every time you feel such feelings, you would realise you are stuck in the rut! Don’t worry that’s the most important step of the whole process.
Try to Understand what Keeps you Glued to your Routine
To get you out of the rut, you need to understand what keeps you in it. Usually, you are stuck in the rut because it’s your comfort zone. It’s where you don’t have to put extra effort to just keep going, although it doesn’t make you feel fulfilled. It may be because you are comfortable with the work environment, your day-today duties, your team and so on. Comfort zone at work is a dangerous place. It keeps you from realising your full potential because it doesn’t challenge you. In the end, your workday becomes a routine, the beginning of your resentments. It happened to me it happened to many of us. Don’t worry, when you understand why you are glued to the what you do, we are one step further to getting out of the trap!
Set Attainable Goals
As we already know, why you are stuck in a place where you do not enjoy and you keep on doing things that does not motivate or grow you as a professional, it’s time to form a plan to overcome it. No plan is complete without goals. This is where you need to do critical thinking.
Do not Hesitate to Ask for Help
Talk to your mentor (if you already have one) or your manager, explore what special employee assistance programmes your employer offers. It is very important for you to discuss your resentments with somebody who is familiar with your work environment as there may be assistance is available. Seek constructive feedback from your colleagues. Remember, you could not be the only one who is at this situation.
Be Brutally Honest about what your options are
You need to assess what options are available to you in order to draw up an attainable goal plan. Sometimes getting out of the rut is as easy as talking to your manager and they could change few things to make it better. It’s always not the case. This is when you need to critically evaluate what qualifications /experiences you have gained so far, what area you think you are passionate about and move on to, what is the qualification/experience gap to get into your interested area etc. I reiterate you need to be brutally honest in this process. Performing a personal SWOT analysis is the best way to understand where you are now and what opportunities are available to you.
Now, you are in a position to draw up your plan to get where you want to be. One important thing is your goals should be time bound and you should re assess them regularly to track the progress of achieving them. When I drew up my goal plan, I had set 3 months to achieve the overall goals and tracked my progress weekly. Critically evaluate the overall goal plan periodically in order to make necessary adjustments. Achieving a goal plan is a cycle of When you break down the process into different stages, it becomes easier to track the progress.
They say, “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. When you are discouraged because you are stuck in the rut, you need to be courageous to get yourself out of it. Only you can do it and you will succeed if you believe in yourself to go through the process. Never forget You are Stronger than you think!
Please share with me your thoughts on this article and what are you expected to read in future articles. Stay tuned!