Ways to Break Out of a Career Funk
Allow yourself to find the joy in the daily grind by breaking out of a career funk.
A career funk can be painful and hard to break away from. Like a parasite it leeches joy and energy away from our lives, leaving us feeling lost and powerless without direction. Has your job stopped giving you joy or do you feel as if you have hit a dead end? If you have ever worked in sales, you will have experienced what is called a sales drought—where nothing you do seems to work and you just aren’t getting any sales. If you are constantly working with absolutely no end in sight, feeling like the wheels are spinning but nothing is happening and overwhelmed by the drudgery of work, you might be suffering a career funk.
Change Your Environment
Science is now giving us insight into the the link between environment and creativity, productivity, and stress. If you are in the midst of a career funk, think about your environment—is it a peaceful oasis of productivity or an oppressive work environment? Incorporating aspects of the Chinese art of Feng Shui into your workspace can boost your productivity. Studies have shown that adding plants to your workplace reduces stress and increases productivity. They have also shown that replacing sharp corners on furniture for ones with rounded, smoother corners improves your environment and wellbeing.
Try to get outside, not only into nature but try and surround yourself with a different culture. This will put you out of your comfort zone, get your creative mind working, and will give you a better idea of the bigger picture. Just go to an unexplored area of your city or an ethnic area like China Town. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, take some time of work, book an airplane ticket, and immerse yourself in another culture.
Remember, It's Always a Numbers Game
The results you want may not actually be far away, it might just take a few more calls or a few more letters. Realize that you will always hit dead-ends but every dead-end leads you closer to your next success. Use a journal to log your effort and results, it will help you gain perspective. From this it’s great to work out the average success rate for every hour of work. By doing this you may also find some patterns and areas where your efforts may be best spent.
Organize Your Life
Things seem stressful when we are disorganized. It’s very easy to be busy but not to be productive, by organizing your work life you remove some of the chaos and fear from day-to-day life. The easiest way to start is by simply making a do-to list every morning, then prioritizing what tasks you are going to focus on. This will help you get work done but also focus your productivity. Something many people find useful is to start work in the morning with the tasks they fear most. Think how good you will feel by lunch time having done those tasks you have been putting off for weeks.
Accept the Stress
You will never be 100 percent ready for any task but there is good stress and bad stress. There is the good stress which drives you forward to succeed and achieve, while there is the bad stress which makes you feel powerless in front of your tasks and makes you want to just sit and watch Netflix eating Cheetos. Stress is an inherent part of life, you shouldn’t try to fight it all the time but simply accept it—stress can be your great tool and ally.
Many people find it useful to make a mood diary, it’s not hard and is very rewarding. Take a piece of graph paper and make a line graph charting your mood as a percentage. When you track your moods and notice them, you may find patterns which give you insights into your habits.
Stimulate Your Mind
Learn a new language, paint a picture, meditate, climb a mountain. Introduce your mind to new possibilities and horizons by doing something completely unrelated to your work. Doing this will open your mind to new ideas and perspectives. Many entrepreneurs claim that their best business ideas came to them in the shower. You don’t need to be at a desk to think and it doesn’t need to be a hard task, just different. Your brain is like a muscle and like any muscle, it needs exercise by doing other things you are making your brain stronger and more able to give you creative ideas.
Solve Your Money Problems
Money problems can really exacerbate a career funk. They can leave you paralyzed in a job you hate just for the money and can add stress which effects your job performance. Taking control of your financial situation can make you feel more in control of your life. We are like puzzles and the more pieces we have in place the better the picture gets. When looking at finances, focus on your priority bills and credit cards first—these are the most expensive (and stressful). The most rewarding thing about solving your financial problems is the feeling you get while you are doing it, especially if you have been putting it off for a long time.
Understand the Road Isn't Straight
Sometimes the path between “A” and “B” isn’t straight. Think about your goals. Is what you are working towards right now what you want to work towards for the rest of your life? If not there is no problem in working to change that, there is no shame in recognizing that you've veered off the road or even fallen off the road altogether. A career funk makes it so hard to act, like a deer in the headlights, but recognizing the problem makes action much easier.
Explore Your Values
Values are the rudders which steer our lives. If you haven’t been in touch with your values, get a blank sheet of paper and scribble down everything that is important to you. Think hard, getting in touch with the principles which you hold dear within your heart allows you to conceptualize what you really want from your life—you may find that you haven’t been acting with integrity which has been a reasson why you are worn out. This exercise is extremely grounding and will allow you to explore if your inner self and outer self are working in harmony.
Career funks happen to all of us, hopefully these easily implementable tips can help in your fight. Overcoming a career funk isn’t just about working hard in the workplace but also about working hard on ourselves.