Clean your career lens: 8 ways to get out of a rut at work
Establish control of your time so you stick to the discipline of working at a chosen task for a scheduled interval where there will be no other distractions.
Are you stuck in a rut? Is your work not exciting enough to get you jumping out of bed each morning? Is it just all in your mind or is there something you are missing out on? You are probably looking at your work-life in a singular way which, like the frame of a camera, restricts your view of what is available or possible. Check out different and contrarian frameworks. One or many of them can offer you a fresh perspective on success.
1. Boss frame
Are you in a job you like and focused on your next promotion? The fastest way to get promoted is to be a leader well before you are considered. Start with connecting authentically with team members and those reporting to you. Get to know them personally and let them know you well, including your limitations. Help, facilitate and mentor your team to succeed. Be handy with your praise and celebrate wins. Encourage analysis and acceptance of failures instead of criticism. Apologise quickly when you are in the wrong. Prioritise needs of team over an individual and take responsibility for both hiring and firing people. When the time comes around, you will be promoted.
2. Pain frame
Pain is a trigger for change. So how painful does it have to get before you decide to quit your job or change your profile within the same job? When you are in a hostile environment because of your colleagues or your boss and the situation cannot be resolved, it is time to change. Similarly, quit when your employer is unable to pay salaries on time or your new life circumstances make it impossible to continue. If your work is not challenging enough or you are stagnating in terms of learning or money, have a conversation with your employer to see if there is a solution, before you seek a change.
3. Security frame
Sub-optimal career decisions are often driven by a need for financial security. Satisfy that need with a few good habits. Start with the intention of creating a financially secure future. Ask for the maximum contribution to a provident or pension fund. Set up a monthly SIP with your mutual fund or a recurring deposit. Automating investments makes sure they happen and demand effort to undo. Create routines that are frugal like carrying home food for lunch or having a party at home. Invest in purchases that are low cost or low maintenance and spend time with people of similar habits. The financial security will help you make the right career choices each time.
4. Freedom or self frame
Are you your biggest hurdle? Recognise the fears that hold you back. The first of these is the “Imposter Syndrome”. When you succeed, do you often tell yourself that you simply got lucky? Most professionals suffer from self-doubt and lack of confidence and sabotage themselves. Define success at your level and acknowledge your accomplishments. Avoid perfection and aim for good outcomes while you act, dress and talk confidently. Other hurdles include fear of failure, criticism, leaving a comfort zone, taking big decisions and hard work. Find role models to draw inspiration from, mentors to push you and a support system to pick you up when you are down.
5. Efficiency frame
The biggest contribution to your career is available each day in how you maximise your time and efficiency. The most productive habits can increase your output. Firstly, have a short list of 3-5 critical tasks you want to achieve in a day and the top two milestones you want to achieve during the week. Never have a long to-do list because it lulls you into being busy in less important activities. Establish control of your time so you stick to the discipline of working at a chosen task for a scheduled interval where there will be no other distractions. Finally, create a time bank by exiting tasks that can be automated or outsourced.
6. Joy frame
Is it critical for you to do what gives you joy? One way is to fall in love with your work or career. The other is to balance your career with what you love to do. But firstly, what do you truly love? If you do not have the answer, give yourself ample time to figure out your life purpose, what you like in your job, what energises you apart from work, how you would prioritise work time if you had no constraints and conversely, what you hate doing. Once you have your answers, experiment with them in your workspace. Request your boss or work towards tasks that give you more joy and less pain. Make changes in your approach to focus on priorities. If your passion is a hobby that cannot be part of your career, pursue it outside work. Either way, doing what you love within or outside work will re-energise your career.
7. Risk frame
Are you forever thinking about taking risks in your career? Most professionals avoid risks since they suffer from a loss-aversion bias where the fear of losing makes one ignore the possibility and extent of success. To overcome this, use the framework of opportunity to think about the risk you are considering. What learnings you will acquire, the career path it will take you on, the dreams that will become possible, the unforeseen opportunities that will crop up versus the cost of failure if your plans do not play out. Taking well considered risks also imbibes you with confidence and helps you become a better leader.
8. Non-linear frame
Given the rate of technological disruption, many jobs of the next 5 to 10 years do not exist right now and quite a few of those that exist today will fade out. So, prepare for a non-linear career path where multiple opportunities will present themselves at every stage and they may not be a step forward each time. Choose options where you grow and add to your skillset. Developing a creative approach to solving problems will be invaluable. To build a creative mindset, learn to step away from work often. Take time out to volunteer. Volunteering is a great career booster because it fosters new skills, strengthens a resume, adds meaningful new connections and gives you a broad perspective.
(The writer is Founder and CEO at Quezx.com and Headhonchos.com)