Many of us, at some point of time or another, have hit a career plateau—the stage where you are stable in your career, but may not necessarily be thriving. If you feel you have stopped learning, or lost the motivation to grow, or do not feel you are adding value to your company (or vice-versa), it might be time to reach out to a career coach.
For better or for worse, most of us identify ourselves and our sense of self-worth through the narrow prism of our careers. So, when our career isn’t going that way we envisioned, it can appear to be a failure, and bring with it feelings of inadequacy and helplessness.
Yet, viewed in another way, a plateau is also a chance to reinvent yourself, to delve into the kind of professional life you want, and to re-energise yourself, both personally and professionally.
For Mark Opao, the realisation that his career was plateauing came when he felt that he was just “working for the sake of working”. Although he had progressed both vertically and horizontally over the last 12 years, he had reached the stage where he was losing passion and a sense of direction.
Recognising that he needed to step back and re-think his career path, he reached out to us at #GlobalLumenHR. Working with a coach, he says, helped him to take the necessary actions to expand his knowledge and networks, to explore other industries, and to work towards being the best version of himself.
Mark has recently re-entered the workforce after a meaningful career break, in a future-forward industry. His experience shows us that a career plateau doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start over: it means you are ready to explore a new direction that builds on what you have experienced, learnt, and enjoyed over the years.
A subtle but significant change can occur by being open to taking a step back in order to take better steps forward. This involves learning, unlearning, and re-learning: about yourself, your skills, passions, and possible future directions.
Here are three ways in which you can use your career plateau to reinvent your career:
Start with yourself: Begin by identifying what you are good at, rather than the things that you love. Differentiating between the two is key: by better understanding your strengths, you can identify areas where you can take more responsibility at work, and leverage these strengths effectively.
Take a Positive Intelligence assessment: Developed by Shirzad Chamine, #positiveintelligence (PQ) is a measure of one’s mental fitness, and involves weakening internal “saboteurs” and strengthening parts of our mind that make us emotionally fit and happier. According to Chamine, “The #1 difference between the star performers and the runners up is not skills. It’s not knowledge. It’s not even motivation and how badly they want to win. It is Recovery time. The speed in which they rebound after setbacks, rejections, and mistakes”.
Attitude is everything: We each have a responsibility, to ourselves and to those around us, to be the best version of ourselves. Even in the bleakest circumstances we have the choice of how to respond to that situation—and the right attitude plays a big role in determining these choices. #MarshallGoldsmith’s example of the differing attitudes of two flight attendants points to the importance of the choices we make in the workplace, and how employees need to take responsibility for their actions and engagement.
Career coaches look forward to talking to people who want to be reenergised at work and are looking at new directions. So reach out to a career coach if you want to bring the spark back into your professional life.