What to do if you feel stuck in your career

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Even a dream job can be a nightmare some days.

But what if you feel your lack of enthusiasm for your work is affecting your career? How do you rediscover the sense of purpose and joy you used to have in your job?

Is it just a blip?

Everyone has days when they drag themselves into the office, wishing they were still home in bed. But is it more than that?

If you feel down a lot of the time, then you might need to seek your doctor’s help. But if there are no personal or medical issues affecting you and it is just work that’s a struggle, there might be a way to start loving your job again.

We spoke to Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management and the author of Career Coach: How to plan your career and land your perfect job:

“You need to think about how long you have been like this. We all have days when things go wrong and people are horrible and it is raining and you don’t want to be at work. But it could be a blip.

If it’s just a bad day, it will pass. But if you’ve lacked enthusiasm for work for a while – say a month or more – then you need to do something about it.”

  • Identify if it just a blip and focus on the future

Think about your motivation

What made you choose your accountancy or bookkeeping career in the first place? And what made you apply for your current job? Are your reasons still valid?

It’s also a good idea to think of how much you have achieved at work and what particular projects you enjoyed and were successful at. Everybody has something good to say about their job – and once you start thinking positively, your outlook could change for the better.

Maybe your enthusiasm for the project you are currently working on requires a different approach that will make it more interesting or challenging.

“If you have a difficult project then you may be better ploughing on with it and thinking about the future when it’s completed. You could talk to your manager and ask what you will be doing once that project is finished, pointing out that you are looking forward to a new challenge,” says Mills.

This will also help to make you look keen to your manager, which is always a good move.

What is essential is that you never tell anyone at work that you are feeling unenthusiastic. A manager is not going to give you an interesting new project or agree to you learning new skills if they think you aren’t wholly engaged with your work. So be careful what you say to others.

“What they want to see is someone who is committed to their work – even if privately, you are feeling less than enthused”.

  • Accentuate the positive

Up for the challenge?

“Maybe you need a new challenge” says Mills. Volunteering for a new project at work or going for a promotion will kick start you.

“Ask your manager if you need new skills: there is nothing wrong in saying you want to progress and learn. Your manager will want to help an enthusiastic, ambitious member of staff. Ask them for their advice on what kind of skills you need to advance. Everyone likes being asked for advice”

If you don’t want to approach your manager, then you could consider looking for a mentor or sponsor at work, someone who can help guide you in your career.

Perhaps you should think of becoming a mentor yourself: helping others in their careers and explaining why you love your work can be a brilliant way of restarting your enthusiasm for your profession.

  • Upskilling can boost your enthusiasm and your career

Other ways to get purpose back into your career

Getting involved in your professional organisation – such as the AAT is a great way of finding purpose again.

“‘Meeting others in your profession at events or forums will remind you why you like your chosen career.” Talking to peers will help you put your concerns in perspective too says Mills

Intellectual stimulation is invaluable too. It might have been a while since you studied but working for new qualifications and learning new skills will be just what you need. And it will also help you advance in your career. Your boss might allow you to study during work time too.

Volunteering for projects outside work in your local community can be a good idea too. You could help set one up and get others at work to join in. Have a look at the work of platform Neighbourly for inspiration.

It helps companies set up schemes helping in their local community, such as giving staff time off work to develop community gardens or running contact groups for vulnerable residents.

“Having interests outside work will help in work too”. “Maybe you need to do something creative with your spare time.” Remember too that any ‘soft skills’ you can pick up outside work can help within too.

If you really need a change, then perhaps you could think about being seconded to a different part of the business:

The message is: don’t ignore your lack of enthusiasm for your work: a few simple moves can reignite your interest and could even have you climbing the career ladder faster!

Charlotte Beugge spent more than 20 years as the deputy personal finance editor on The Daily Telegraph and then The Daily Mail. A freelancer since 2010, her work has appeared in national newspapers, magazines and websites.

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