12 More Professional Development Questions
Professional Development from the Growth Mindset

How Do You Know When You're Stuck?

I've been writing a lot lately about positive professional development, trying to think differently about how we approach our own learning and growth. But it occurs to me that for many of us, thinking about career and professional growth can be tough if we're feeling stuck in our current careers. All this "positive" stuff can start to sound like the manic ramblings of a crazy person. Who has TIME for positive professional development when you're just trying to keep your head above water? 

Having been in the "stuck" place (I accidentally typed "suck" place and think that might have been more appropriate), I know how it can feel to be around people encouraging you to be positive. In fact, experts suggest that random "Be Positive!" stuff can actually be toxic. So it can help to first know when you're stuck and to acknowledge what that might be doing to you before you launch into anything else. 

I've shared in the past the times when I've felt stuck, as in in this post. Re-reading it, I can see that for me, there are always clues to when I'm feeling burnt out. See if these ring true for you:

  • Bored
  • Work is a chore that I have to slog through. I find myself devising weird little incentives, like "if you do this task, you can do mindless web browsing for 15 minutes." And I dread sitting down at my desk in the morning. 
  • Isolated and wanting to withdraw from people around me. I tend to go into my little cave when I'm in stuck mode. Of course while I'm in there, I think I'm the only person in the world who feels stuck and I can also go on a pity party for myself. 
  • Anxious and stressed out. Often I will wake up in the night with 5 million things on my mind that I can't shut down. The more I think about these things, the more anxious I feel. 
  • Difficulty focusing on one task. Multi-tasking becomes the norm, but in a very scattered way, disconnected from any real strategy. It's activity, not action

The thing that I've found is that "stuckness" can sneak up on you. It's a sort of quicksand that you wander into indavertently and don't realize is killing you until you're up to your neck in it. You become the frog in boiling water

The trick I've found is to try to pay attention to when you're getting stuck, so you can act sooner, rather than later to derail things. For me, the best way to tell is to keep daily journals so I can see when I'm trending toward stuck. I also try to monitor myself for some of the symptoms I described above. 

So here's my question for the day. How do you know when you're getting stuck? Is this something you try to monitor on a regular basis? And how do you monitor it? 


I'm running two free Positive Professional Development Camps on July 26 and 28. Check out this post for more information and to sign up. There are only a few spots left, so I'd encourage you to sign up quickly! And if you can't attend, go ahead and fill out the form anyway, just to let me know you're interested so I can see about scheduling additional sessions. 


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I know I'm stuck when I start daydreaming about my dream job (being a trainer at the Disney Institute), looking at other jobs, feel jealous of other people's success and happiness, think about going back to school, and most of all accomplish less at work.

This can be a big problem because often it's tied to moods or chemicals in the brain. How does one even know if she is happy? Happiness can be fleeting. Say you are having a great day. Then someone calls you in disappointed in a reject you worked your ass off on. Are you still happy? For me happiness depends on too many outside sources. Something I struggle with daily.

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