How to Create Positive Change When You Feel Stuck


feeling stuck? change is a constant that begins with your thoughts

If you’re feeling stuck in your current career or job, you can create positive change right now. You can be your authentic self. It might seem impossible at this moment. You can and you will escape the situation. Because it’s all in your mind.

    How to Create Positive Change in a Career Rut

    When you are fully committed to making changes in your life, it will happen. The first step is to decide that you want to change.

    You don’t want to continue with your current situation. Now don’t go into your boss’ office tomorrow and fulfill your fantasy of playing this ditty in the background as you strut out the door.

    You can, however, celebrate on the inside that you have decided to change. You are free to move forward.

    I had a job for several years where I couldn’t be myself. I enjoy socializing and working with people. I am good at strategizing and coming up with solutions to better serve people.

    But the environment discouraged collaboration and people were paranoid about talking. I hoped that the people around me would change, but I had to be the change. As soon as I made the decision to stop believing in what I wanted to happen and start taking steps to find a more collaborative team, opportunities opened up to me.

    Stop Thinking That You Are Stuck

    The one constant in this universe is change. Everything that exists is in a state of change — even in a job where you feel like you are on an infinite loop. Ask any quantum physicist. As part of the universe, we are part of that cycle of change. The experiences you have today will affect your future.

    Telling yourself you are stuck, making decisions based on it is what it is and thinking defeatist thoughts are going to keep you stuck. It’s an illusion. Nothing is stuck. You are making choices by not making choices. Doing nothing is a choice. Throwing up your hands and saying it is what it is, is a choice.

    Inner Shifts Equal Outer Change

    Positive change involves inner work before the outer work can begin. That is always the case. As Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved on the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Steven Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, stresses the concept of inner work before outer work or change:

    The inside-out approach to change means to start first with self; even more fundamental, to start with the most inside part of self – with your paradigms, your character and your motives.

    Have a Come to Jesus with Reality

    So, if a change is to happen and if it is to last, we need to acknowledge that we must take a look at who we are now and who we want to be. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and look at reality as it is, not what you think it should or could be. It’s time to for a come to Jesus meeting with your soul.

    Years ago, if I was honest with myself about my job I hated, I would have seen that my boss had no inclination to change how the team was managed. The people I worked with chose to leave the job.

    Be Like Elsa — Let Your Expectations Go

    Me expecting my job to change was ridiculous. It was a waste of time and mental space to expect something on the outside to change. I had to let my expectations go. When I decided to look within and tap into my creativity and value, I suddenly had an abundance of options. Positive change came after I shifted my thinking.

    • I could find a new job that met my need to collaborate and communicate.
    • I could find an enjoyable hobby to have something to look forward to in my off time.
    • I could start my own business
    • I could go back to school.
    • I chose to stop expecting other people to change and make changes in myself.

    Turn off the Autopilot

    Mindfulness is having an awareness and clarity about everything that you do. Otherwise the subconscious runs the show and we let years go by without getting what we really want. Where are you feeling dissatisfied? Where are you noticing dissonance in your life? Where are you feeling stuck?

    Identify the issues. Now, recognize exactly where you are and then consider where you would like to be in the future if everything were running smoothly? If for instance, your sales team is not performing up to budget and you are having a difficult time motivating them towards success, consider what a sales team that is highly motivated and successful would look like.

    Consider what your role would be in achieving that goal? Who would you be? How would you function? How would you feel? The gap between where you are now and where you want to be is where the work will be done.

    Get Aligned with What You Value

    Your ability to succeed at your job is highly dependent on whether your values and passions are in alignment with your job and its requirements. After some thought, you might discover what you need to do to motivate your sales team. It may be more patience, more enthusiasm, more nurturing and more of a team atmosphere. Do you value these things? If not, then you may not be able to make the changes that you want.

    Do the important inner work of discovering who you are now, what matters to you, what you are passionate about and what you place value on. Are these things showing up for you in your everyday life? If not, there is sure to be dissonance. My four-part Find Your Purpose series contains actions you can take to have better alignment with your values and your work.

    If being successful in your work is of great value to you then what are you willing to do to make a positive change toward success? Are you willing to make the necessary changes in how you are being? Are you willing to try something different? Are the things you need to do aligned with your values and passions? What are you willing to say yes to and even more important, what are you willing to say no to?

    positive change begins with your mindset

    Give Defeat the Back Seat

    Awareness, as mentioned is key if you want change. When we are living our lives in a state of true awareness, we are free from reactive, self-defeating behavior. The mind is a trickster though. You may think you are making conscious decisions, but the unconscious mind is still at the wheel.

    As an example, try simply noticing that voice inside your head that starts yapping at you when you are about to make a decision, especially one that could result in change. Is it telling you lies? Does it call you a loser and bring up a laundry list of other failures? That the voice is out to sabotage you. Just by noticing it you will realize that this inner saboteur is at work.

    Reaction vs Action

    What is the difference between reactive behavior and action? When you are reacting to life and its circumstances, you playing defensive. You are letting other people and your surroundings determine how you feel about yourself.

    Let’s say your boss gives you harsh criticism of your latest report. Your adrenaline rushes and a wave of angry indignation rolls over you. In that emotional state, you are unable to actually hear what he or she said because you are already defending yourself. You are reacting to something.

    Positive change comes from an action mindset. Having an action mindset means you would listen to the comments. Stop and think. You would not take anything that your boss says personally. You would examine the feedback for truth. Maybe you did rush — now that you think about it. And you did make a mistake. You can accept that and move on. If on the other hand, you did not make a mistake you can chalk up the comments for your boss having a bad day. You are proud of your work. The end.

    Control the One Thing You Can — You

    We cannot control life but we can control how we handle it. If we are really aware and in tune with what is happening, we can learn not to add meaning to reality where there is no additional meaning needed. For example, in the above incident, you may have reacted because you assumed your boss thought you were in the wrong and therefore not up to snuff. But that was just what you thought he meant.

    Accept That Your Childhood is a Liar

    What you think he meant and what he said are often two very different entities. Perhaps all he meant was that your work could have been better and he wanted to steer you in the right direction. Would you rather be grumpy for a while about something you interpreted, or let it go and work on making your reports better?

    A lot of your mental and emotional quicksand that keeps you from getting unstuck in your childhood telling those lies again. Those darn impressionable years. Your father was always highly critical so you believe that you are a loser. A child has created that narrative. The real deal is that your father was really critical. Period.

    The worst part is that this type of reaction to criticism will bring up those “I’m a loser” feelings when someone criticizes you. The ability quiet that childhood reaction and see things for just what they are can make a world of difference in your life. Positive change begins this minute. What are you going to do? Good luck and chin up buttercup.

    Tracey Lamphere

    Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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