Recently, I read a great article detailing why your professional decline is closer than you think. It's something that tends to happen later on in life but can actually happen at any time. It usually accompanied by a feeling of a sudden loss of confidence or of no longer being successful. The hardest thing about this is that it is so hard to predict or to recognise the symptoms.
You see many of the clients who come to me usually have easy to recognise symptoms; they are unhappy in their jobs, experiencing bullying or have a tough decision to make.
Professional decline shows up differently. Often this comes from having been in the same role or organisation for a while, things start to become stagnant. You may experience boredom or realise that you are being overlooked for job opportunities that come up, or you may find that you are being pigeonholed.
Here’s how you can tell
If you are experiencing any of these then it’s time for you to do something about it.
No room for promotion. There may be a lack of opportunities, you feel like you want to do more or it may be that your skill set is not being fully recognised by the powers that be.
People perceive you in a specific function; for example as an administrator or IT guru or something else. This means when you apply for other roles your application is more likely to be dismissed, or that your talents go unrecognised.
You feel like its groundhog day every day. It’s the same thing day in, day out.
Your ideas are dismissed or shot down, leaving you to feel hamstrung or constrained.
You catch yourself daydreaming about other roles or working for yourself.
You feel disconnected from your manager and your colleagues like you are on another wavelength altogether.
You are clock watching.
You do have choices:
You can either:
Transform your current role into the role you were excited to apply for, and begin to win again, or
Move on to another role in another company, or
Abandon working for someone else and either start that company you have always dreamed of getting off the ground, or buy an existing one.
If you chose to transform your current role, then it is very likely you will need to learn some new hard skills and/or soft skills (ie build on your emotional intelligence).
It may mean searching out ways to learn whilst you work - there are so many online learning options these days.
It may also mean learning techniques such as how to develop your leadership or follower-ship skills so you stand out; how to build stronger more effective relationships at work or how to develop savvy organisation navigation skills so that new opportunities open up for you.
An executive coach can help you think through what you want, how to set goals and how to learn, practice and advance these skills and show you where your ‘blind spots’ are along with being your biggest supporter when the going gets tough.
If that doesn’t resonate with you, and you chose to move to a different role or career, and it’s time to work out what your next step will be. Ask yourself what do I want:
To work in the same field but a different company?
More or less responsibility?
More or less flexibility?
Travel more or less?
What skills and knowledge are the most enjoyable to use and how does that translate into another role or another career altogether - where are the gaps?
Work for myself?
Own a business?
We are lucky to now have the biggest free researching tool at our fingertips. Take time to explore LinkedIn and company career pages to find out about other organisations where you may want to work. Talk to friends and or reach out to current employees to find out more about what its like to work at that company.
Use job boards as your personal search engine. Keep your options open at this stage. Try searching using keywords instead of job titles. The name of the game here is to get a handle on what jobs are out there, and if they interest you.
Having a career coach to help you identify the right career strategy, develop your positioning and practice your interviewing can be invaluable.
The dream of being your own boss. There are many ways to do this: you could buy an existing business; you could develop your own (one low risk way is to develop this as a side gig).
The key things to consider if you start your own business are these:
Develop your business positioning by understanding what is driving you to be in business for yourself. The main thing to tease out is your ‘why’, this means looking hard at what is it that is driving you. Consider personal values such as freedom or flexibility as well as looking at how you are going to do what you do.
Work out how you will market your business. Here you must understand your customer and what they are looking for. Developing a persona is a good way to do this. Understanding your customers will help you design and build things like branding, website (content is king), blogging and a social media presence.
Work out the plan…. and I mean how much is it going to cost you to set up and run your business and how much do you need to earn to cover those costs and to make a profit; not to mention how much you need to survive until your business thrives.
Using a business mentor or coach can help you with their knowledge and expertise and to act as a sounding board as you navigate the rapids and pitfalls of this particular journey.
Whatever option you choose, know that this is only the start of the journey. You are dipping your toe in the water, beginning to dream again.
To help you work through challenges such as this, I have created an EDM series ‘Moving Forwards’. You’ll receive one email each week. Each one addresses a specific topic and gives you practical information and techniques you can use across the following week. Each email is designed to move you forward step by step. I’m sure you’ll find them helpful - and they’re yours free. Sign up here.