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3 ways to unstick your career

Thursday, April 10, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Kathy Caprino

My career coaching clients usually come to me because they are stuck in some critical way. They stuck in confusion, suffering from analysis paralysis, fearful, overwhelmed, not living up to their potential or just plain sick and tired of their unsatisfying lives and careers.

Helping people get unstuck is what I do every day — and what I’ve done in my own life as well (read my personal story on overcoming intractable "stuckness”). When we’re mired in chronic negative thinking and behaviors that keep us small and helpless, there are three powerful ways to get unstuck fast.

The top three ways to release yourself from the doldrums and get moving again are:

1. Reconnecting to your unique brand of creativity. Thousands of professionals today are overwhelmed by the work and family responsibilities on their plates. Juggling what’s important seems virtually impossible. To cope with extreme demands of work and home, they've moved away from any form of creativity that is not tied to accomplishing and achieving. But when you’re stuck, you need completely new ways to see your life and your challenges, and you can’t get to those new ways if you’re locked up tight in a "duties and responsibilities” box with a lid that won’t budge.

One way through your challenges is to take a step back, to reengage in a creative endeavor that lights you up, energizes and restores you and allows some distance and disengagement from having to "make it happen” and from the "achievement” scorecard you use to measure your success.You need a break, and the most productive form of a break is to tap into your creativity in a way that brings you joy.

Related: "Listen up: Or pay the career penalty" 

Think back to when you were a kid — what creative activity did you simply love to engage in, that would make hours fly like seconds? My creative outlet is singing and performing, and I’m just not as happy without music in my life. To satisfy my love of music, I’m in a local performance choir that rehearses weekly and performs several concerts a year, and I perform and record with my husband, jazz percussionist Arthur Lipner when I can.

I’ve realized that I am able to bring my highest self to music and to the folks who share music with me, because I do it for pure joy and for no other reason. My ego isn’t attached or involved. And that helps me tap into more joy in my other arenas (work, family, etc.).

Others find joy in painting, drumming, writing a novel, origami and the list goes on.You might say, "Oh come on, Kathy, who has time for creativity?” My response is this: You’d better make the time, because it’s through your own brand of creativity that you’ll be able to regain access to your vast internal resources and wisdom, hear your heart and your intuition, and ultimately find your own way again.

What was your favorite creative outlet as a child that would enliven you again?

2. Behaving in totally uncharacteristic ways. Did you ever see the movie "Yes Man” — the funny romantic flick starring Jim Carrey? It’s about a guy, Carl, who’s stuck in his sad, unfulfilled life and decides after a series of catalyzing events that he’ll say "Yes!” to every opportunity, request or invitation that presents itself thereafter. Through this new positive lens, his life is totally transformed and he discovers in himself a more expansive, positive, capable and successful individual than ever before.

I love this idea, and it supports the notion that it is pure insanity to continue to do what you’ve always done, expecting a different outcome (thanks, Einstein). Try something 100-percent new, completely different from what the "typical” you would normally do or choose and commit to continually doing what is uncharacteristic of you. Say "Yes!” to what you would have said "No way” before. Your life will feel fresh again and you’ll see yourself in a new light. You’ll discover just how versatile, courageous, powerful and unique you truly are.

What exciting, positive step or action can you do this week and next that would make folks say, "Wow, I didn't expect her to do that!”

3. Disengaging from the one outcome you are desperate for. Finally, bring to mind the one specific outcome that you've attached desperately to — that one promotion or new business deal or professional identity or plum project that you think you must have to live a happy, successful life. How is it going for you, to be so emotionally attached to this one outcome or experience? Not so well, I’d guess. Usually, this type of desperate need or attachment leads to suffering, fear and anxiety and pulls you away from the desired goal instead of towards it.

An over-attachment of this kind limits your ability to see yourself and your life as expansive and flexible as it truly is. And it tricks you into thinking that joy and success can only be experienced through one form or one way. It’s a myth to believe you must be or do only one thing to be happy.You’re much more than you think you are. (Download my free Career Path Self-Assessment to discover who you really are.)

Is there one outcome you’re holding on to desperately, that’s bringing you misery in the longing for it? Let it go.

Becoming unstuck and moving forward is entirely in your hands. Don’t sit and wait for the outside world to change.It’s time to be and do something radically different now, to get moving. Are you ready to say, "Yes!”?

Kathy Caprino is a nationally recognized women’s career and leadership coach and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women in business. Author of Breakdown, Breakthrough, Caprino is a contributor to ForbesHuffington Post and AARP. Follow her on Twitter at @kathycaprino. For Kathy's original post on this topic, visit her Forbes Leadership blog "Career Bliss."

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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