We all know that feeling of being stuck – you are in one job, but are about to transition into a new one. You have been in one role for a while, but are about to take on new responsibility. You are starting a new venture and don’t know exactly what is on the horizon. You’re about to become a parent. Or move to a new city. You’re in between one thing and another. But, ambiguity can be bad for your wellbeing. Read below for some tips on successfully transitioning from “here” to “there”.
Become un-stuck from the past
Research says that moving on is best when you’re stuck between phases in work or life. But, it can be hard to move on if you don’t have a sense of where you’re going. This requires some planning. The first phase of becoming less stuck is experimentation, which pushes you out of being stuck and moves you closer to the future.
Experimenting can constitute dreaming of new ways you might behave. It might also involve trying new behaviors that you haven’t tried before. For example, you might list out the ways you’d like to behave when you are in a leadership role. Or you might try to incorporate some leader-like behaviors in your existing routine. Either way, experimentation allows you to figure out what you’d like to be. In other words, what is the goal you’re trying to reach? How can you go about getting there? So, it’s important to slowly become less stuck in who you are now and start to think about where you’re going.
You’re no longer stuck. Now what?
Reflection is also an important part of the process of becoming who you want to be. This means that, as you are testing out new identities or behaviors, you can think about how others might respond to them. For example, working mothers use the period of pregnancy to think about how others will view them as a mother and as an employee after the baby is born. They use this information to make decisions about how they’re going to enact their mother and employee identities during and after pregnancy.
This means that who you surround yourself with and the organization you’re in makes a big difference. Are unsupportive friends or coworkers surrounding you? If a new role or identity is really important to you, you might need to get a second opinion. Further, if you are in a workplace that doesn’t support your personal or career goals, you may want to start looking for somewhere that does. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consider the views of others. Perceptions of others are actually really important in determining our own outcomes, even if we don’t like it. But, you should get a realistic view of what is possible, what is wise, and what is necessary. If the folks surrounding you are limiting your view of yourself, it’s worth reflecting on how things might go in another crowd or workplace.
Keep your eyes open for new opportunities
After you think about who you want to be and how others might view you, you might be ready to transition more fully into a new role or identity. Some jobs are more transitory in general, so morphing between new opportunities might just be way of being (e.g., a consultant role where you are constantly working on new projects or with new clients). But, some jobs are more stable. In these jobs, you might need to keep your eyes open in order to recognize opportunities to become less stuck. How do people talk about you? Do they refer to you as a “connector” or as a “communicator”? Are you often selected as the leader of a group? In other words, you should pay attention to what people are saying about you or how they act around you. That might be a good indicator that a new identity or role could be a natural fit. You might have an epiphany if you start to think of what others are telling you about yourself in a new light!
Get into a job that is less “stuck” by nature
Finally, avoid being stuck in a job that is in “limbo“. For example, do you feel you are lacking respect but add a lot of value? If so, you may be constantly stuck because of your job. This is a bad position to be in for your wellbeing. So, keep your eyes open for opportunities to grow and change. Also, be honest with yourself about whether you will be able to effectively grow and change in your current workplace. If you are in a role that has no mobility or with coworkers who don’t see you as “leadership material”, it might be a lost cause to try to transition there.
Overall , being stuck in life and at work is frustrating. Making a leap from the past to the future is scary. Being in-between is frustrating. But, trying to ensure that you’re reflecting on who you want to be, how others might react, and what the “universe” is telling you, can help you to get to the other side safely. We’ve talked about the importance of change before. What have you become less stuck on lately? How did you transition from the old you to something new? We’d love to hear from you below!