Image via Pixabay
At some time in your professional life, it is all but certain that you’ll pause, look up, and realise that you’ve found way your way into a bit of a rut without even realising it.
Ideally, we all want to keep progressing ever-upwards in terms of our careers, earning potential, and professional clout as we make our way through life, but for one reason or another, certain job roles, or even entire industries, may hold us back or make us feel trapped, without a clear path in mind for how to progress further.
If you find yourself stuck in a rut and desperately want to escape, the only option is to change your approach to things in some fundamental way.
Here are some things you can do that may help you lift yourself out of that rut, and continue progressing in your professional life.
Consider doing an MBA
An MBA is one of the most esteemed qualifications out there for good reason; it conveys a deep level of professionalism, proficiency, and understanding to any employers or potential employers who you will have to deal with.
What’s more, online MBA programs mean that you can achieve one of these vaunted qualifications, essentially from the comfort of your own home, under the right conditions.
While it’s best not to view an MBA as a golden ticket to instant CEO status, it is nonetheless something that may potentially help you quite dramatically in your career progression. If, for example, you are being interviewed for a role, the fact that you have an MBA is likely to play well in your favour. For that matter, having an MBA may be a point in your favour, in terms of getting you considered for a role or promotion, to begin with.
Start up your own side-hustle
If you find that your professional life is stagnating, maybe one of the best things you could do would be to start a side-hustle and begin directing some of your time towards that.
While it may seem counterintuitive to split some of your attention and energy during a lull in your day job, rather than dedicating every available moment to trying to land a promotion or show your quality, there are some very compelling reasons to consider starting up a side hustle.
The first of these reasons is that a side hustle can often become a full-time entrepreneurial venture in its own right, and — if the stars align properly — you may find that what began as a hobby project has now become your full-time career (and likely a more engaging career, with better prospects, than what you were doing before).
Secondly, even if a side-hustle doesn’t become a great success in and of itself, to the extent that you can quit your day job to focus on it, there are, nonetheless, fair odds that you’ll make some additional income off the project. Any extra money you make is another resource to work with, and introduces an extra bit of possibility to your circumstances.
Thirdly, regardless of whether you make any money from your side hustle, it will nonetheless teach you valuable new skills that you might be able to apply, fruitfully, to either your current day job, or to another job down the line.
Last but not least, working on a side hustle can help to improve your mood and restore your sense of creativity in ways that can be extremely positive if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your day job, in particular. The fact that you’re applying your mind and energy to a different endeavour — one which is bound to pay off, even if only in terms of experience — is not to be underestimated.
Work to improve your health (focusing on boosting your energy levels)
It’s something that’s not very often spoken of, but the kinds of people who rise to the top of major companies, or who otherwise manage to achieve startlingly high degrees of productivity in their day-to-day lives, are almost always in quite remarkably good health.
Health is not just a measure of how long you can expect to live, or how good or bad you feel from day to day, it’s also a key factor in how much energy, focus, and mental clarity you have available “in reserve”, and that you can bring to bear to address the demands of your professional life.
It’s certainly possible to be productive and achieve if you are dealing with chronic poor health, but the healthier you can make yourself, the more you’re stacking the deck in your favour, and the easier you’ll find it to marshall your physical and mental resources and direct them towards a specific purpose.
One interesting way of advancing yourself, professionally, is to spend the requisite amount of time focusing on improving your health. While there are many different ways of defining “improved health”, you should be aiming at a state where you feel better and happier, have more energy, and can concentrate more easily, than otherwise.
Key steps to improving your health in this regard may include getting more sleep (this is a major point, and not to be underestimated), eating a filling and nutritious diet, with less processed and more home-cooked foods, and taking adequate steps to managing and reducing the level of stress hormones operating in your body — such as by reducing your intake of caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants.
With greater energy comes a greater work capacity, an improved ability to focus and be creative, and an enhanced sense of positivity surrounding the work you find yourself doing. All of these things contribute massively to your potential for success in any field
Consider retraining and switching roles
At certain times, the difficulty you find yourself having with a particular job may be dependent — to a large degree — on the basic structure and nature of the job role itself. In such cases, working to adjust your behaviour or expectations may not fruitfully or reliably provide you with a way “up” beyond a certain stage in your professional progression.
When this happens, it can be well worth thinking about retraining and continuing your professional development down a different avenue.
While you can retrain and pursue a career in a completely unrelated field, you can also tweak your focus slightly and apply for jobs in a related area where you are able to leverage your pre-existing skills in your favour effectively.
In any event, it is typically best not to be too timid or nervous about the prospect of retraining. The credentials you’ve amassed on your CV remain present, as before, and if you find that, after a period of experimentation, you wish to return to your old field, there’s nothing to stop you from returning to it.
With the wonders of the internet, retraining isn’t even something that you have to quit your current job in order to pursue. Rather, you can dedicate a bit of time each evening or morning to working on a University correspondence course, for example, and develop your new skillset without having to abandon your paid work in the meantime.
Turn to the examples of successful people who have gone before you
While “having a mentor” isn’t so much in vogue these days, there is no reason why you can’t, or shouldn’t, take inspiration from the example of successful people in your industry or area of interest, who have gone before you.
Following role models in this sense isn’t just an interesting or fun exercise for the sake of keeping you feeling engaged over the course of the daily grind; it’s also a vital problem-solving formula.
If you find yourself in a rut, part of what that means is that you simply can’t figure out the correct way to react to your circumstances, or to direct them proactively. Reading the biographies of great men and business masterminds may provide invaluable insights in this regard.
Perhaps you are devastated by the fact that your first attempt at creating a startup appears to have flopped, and have taken this as incontrovertible evidence that you simply aren’t cut out to make it in the business arena.
But would you feel different if you knew that Richard Branson has over a dozen failed business ventured to his name? Would this knowledge perhaps inspire you to take a different view on the failures you experienced over the course of your professional life, and help you to approach things in a more useful and pragmatic manner?
Don’t think, either, that you need to find someone who has been in your exact shoes, or even in your exact job role or industry, in order for their example to be useful to you.
Many of the behaviours which lead to success in an individual instance, are the kind of behaviours that are associated with success more generally. Turn to the examples of successful people from throughout the ages, and see what lessons they may have to share with you.