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Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you’re staying

Feeling stuck in your career? Here are some practical ways to start moving forward in your leadership journey.

5 min read


Just because you're stuck doesn't mean you're staying


It’s easy to get stuck, especially during a pandemic when our activities have been curtailed. As a leader, what can you do when you feel stuck? Stuck in your thinking. Stuck in your routine. Stuck in the weeds.

As an executive coach, one of the things I do is help my clients get unstuck and move forward. Of course, there are various ways to feel stuck. I’m talking about those times when your motivation is low. When you feel like you’re just going through the motions without much energy. When it’s the same old, same old.

When you’re in a rut like this, you suffer and your team suffers. After all, as a leader, you set the tone. You motivate your team. When you’re not motivated, how can you expect them to be?

So, what can you do to get motivated?

The key is to get some momentum going. And, luckily for most of us, a small change or two will result in a big shift.

In that spirit, here are two simple and effective ways to get the flywheel moving.

Take stock of — and redesign — your schedule

Start with your morning routine. A strong morning routine sets you up mentally for success and impacts how effectively you will lead others. It determines a lot about whether you’ll be proactive and intentional versus reactive.

There’s no need to over design. One or two simple things can change the way you approach your day.

Many of us start our day by checking email, which in effect lets someone else drive our first moves of the day. What if instead of responding, you forced yourself to use the first moments of the day reflecting?

For that, I love Neil Pasricha’s two-minute morning practice. He says to reflect on and write down responses to three things:

  • I will let go of …
  • I am grateful for …
  • I will focus on …

This practice is a good antidote to start your day with a positive mindset.

Once you feel good about your mornings, zoom out to design your ideal day, then your ideal week. What do you need more of — or less of? Do you have enough time blocked for strategic thinking? Are there meetings you can eliminate? Are you getting enough outdoor time? Enough family time? Enough time to yourself?

You get the idea. The point is to get out of a rut, you need to take stock of and redesign your schedule to make sure you have what you need to be at your best — and lead from a proactive, positive place.

Engage outside of your organization

Another effective way to get unstuck is through conversations — a.k.a., getting out of your own head.

Dorie Clark, a communications coach and frequent Harvard Business Review contributor, has written extensively about the power of networking for business development. I find the same tactics can and spark energy and motivation.

Even when time is at a premium, carving out 30 minutes or an hour a week for networking and conversations pays dividends. Some tactics include:

  • Schedule catch-up conversations with former colleagues.
  • Connect with someone new on LinkedIn (and then schedule time to learn from them). We’re all craving connection and LinkedIn is a powerful way to learn from others in your industry and gain new perspectives.
  • Wave “hi” in a dormant contact’s inbox. Think about someone you respect and admire whom you haven’t been in touch with for five or more years. Send them a quick note to reconnect. Better yet, schedule time to chat.
  • Participate in (or host) a networking event. Although networking gets a bad rap, sharing information and comparing notes with other professionals is a great way to get unstuck.
  • Join (or start) a mastermind group. Mastermind groups are a wonderful way to both build community and also to establish accountability partners. You can’t help but get unstuck and move forward if you’re part of a group that’s committed to supporting and learning from each other.

Any one of these tactics will remind you of the power of outreach and engagement for getting unstuck — and rekindling your creative energy. (I’ve done all five over the last few months and can attest to the positive impact they’ve had on me and my business.)

While I don’t assume what works for me and my clients will work for you, I do feel confident in saying, “Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you’re staying.”

Now, it’s your move. What will you do to get some momentum going?


Elisabeth Hayes is an executive coach who works with ambitious mid-career professionals and senior executives to help them manage themselves, their careers and their teams more effectively. She works with clients to expand their leadership skills, transition into next-level roles and navigate career moves. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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