I used to live a double life—working all day at a job I hated and then coming home and being a “job applicant” after work and on weekends. I was totally stuck and didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t care (or really even know) what jobs I applied to—all I knew is that I needed a change.
It took years for me to finally figure out that this approach didn’t work. The truth is, I needed to understand myself better before I could understand how to job hunt. And as soon as I did that, my dream jobs just starting popping up left and right. Eventually, I didn’t even have to apply for jobs—they just came to me.
Take it from me—there are many mistakes that job searchers make when trying to get out of a career rut. But there are also solutions. Here are six things you can do—this week—to get out of that rut and get one step closer to your ideal career:
1. Take a Day Off
The first thing you can do is to take a mental health day, or a free day to think about what you’re going to do. The secret is not to schedule anything that day, and instead spend time really thinking about what you want to do with your life. A weekday is better than a weekend day—most weekends, you’re busy and you have a ton of stuff to do. But, taking a day off of work means you have a free day, which you wouldn’t normally have had, so you can have some down time and think.
2. Evaluate Your Current Situation
On your day off, make a list of things about your current job that you love, like, and hate. This is going to help you focus during your job search and make sure that you don’t just jump into another job situation that’s not the right fit. Think about everything—your work environment, your co-workers, your boss, your commute, your hours, the work you do, and your clients. I mean everything! Use this list to guide you as you think about what’s next.
3. Meet New People
Talking to other people is another great way to get out of a rut. Not only will you gain some new perspectives and ideas, you’ll learn more about yourself, what you want out of your life, and the next steps to take. Plus, most people are very open to offering advice. You will probably be surprised at how many people actually want to help you. Ask someone for an informational interview to learn more about their position, or challenge yourself to meet four new people each month (like I did in my 4x4 Networking Challenge).
4. Set a Goal
After you’ve done some thinking and research and started to nail down what you want, write down your goals, as well as the specific actions you need to take in order to get there (with deadlines!). A goal could be to attend a networking event within the next month or to do research about an industry that you might want to work in before the end of the week. Better yet, set an end date for when you want to move on—and tell someone else. He or she can keep you accountable to make sure you’re doing everything you need to be doing to find that next job.
5. Add Things You Enjoy to Your Job
I know—it can be a struggle to go to your office every day when you’re actively trying to get out of there. But you can make it a little easier on yourself by adding little things to your plate that you enjoy and want to learn. When I was in a rut, I asked my manager for additional teaching opportunities since I loved training other employees. This not only gave me something to look forward to and an opportunity to develop new skills, but when an adjunct facilitator position opened up, I was the first person my manager called. These things will not only keep you engaged, but they’ll probably turn into new skills and accomplishments you can put on your resume.
In addition, don’t forget to take advantage of your workplace while you can. Does your company offer tuition reimbursement, a professional development budget, or trainings? Use them so that can get you the skills you need for your next job.
6. Make New Habits
The job search can feel overwhelming, but break it down into small steps, and think about making one new habit each week. You could start to wake up earlier and spend an hour job hunting before work, create a to-do list before you leave work for the next day, or set aside an hour of reading every day. Change one little habit, and it can really change your life.
What are you waiting for? If you’re in a rut, get started making changes today. The key is to make forward movement every day, even if it’s a small step. Soon, your new career will be right around the corner!
Feeling stuck in your career? Check out Classy Career Girls' free webinar on October 30, 7 Simple Secrets to Get Your Career Unstuck: How To Find Clear Direction For Your Professional Future and Love Going to Work Everyday! Learn more at getmycareerunstuck.com.
Photo of woman thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.