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Are You Trapped or Just Stuck?

What I learned about jobs and careers from being trapped in an elevator.

Who wants to go to lunch, was the cry from somewhere in the office, followed up with, if you want to come, I'll meet you at the elevator in 10 minutes.

We were a small organisation occupying the 10th floor of an 11-floor building.

As the doors opened, one person was already inside and nine of my hungry colleagues and I piled in.

It was a small lift; I would describe it as being comfortably full; however, this would not be the case if one more person was to get on. Some stood around the edges, and others stood in the center. As we descended to the ground floor, suddenly, there was a clunk, and the lift just stopped.

Photo Credit: Jonny Gios - Unsplash

What happened over the next hour and fifteen minutes was probably a psychologist's dream of observing human behaviour, especially when no one knew when it would end. I do recall it wasn't until we threatened whoever was on the other side of the lift's emergency phone stating that we would force the doors open, that help quickly came.

You might not have experienced being stuck in a lift; however, you may have experienced being stuck on a plane (on the tarmac), not knowing when you will move again. Do you recall how you felt at the start of the first announcement about a delay, and then the hopelessness you began to feel from the ongoing reports apologising again and again, eventually not believing that the timeframes given were actually true?

If you are reading this, you may feel either stalled or trapped in your current job or Career.

The key themes that I have observed over the years tell me this could be because:

  • There has been a takeover or restructuring, and your scope of influence has diminished.

  • It feels like your colleagues are more interested in the 'latest shiny thing or person'.

  • You are in your second or possibly third attempt for promotion or seeking a pay increase, and you have again been told to wait; each year, there is some reasonable excuse or some new criteria that you now need to meet.

  • Your attempts at finding a new role have not progressed to an interview.

  • Or, if you are in leadership or you are the owner of your organisation, you feel the weight of responsibility to keep everything and everyone employed, and happy.

Ultimately, you thought you would be in a different place than you are right now.

We all get stalled or stuck at points in our careers, but we are never trapped.

Are you disagreeing with me right now? Do you believe there is no way you can shift your circumstances, even just a little? That you have absolutely no options available to you?

Typically, when there is pushback, I find the individual is looking for some sort of instant change, and do you blame them? Who wants to be stuck in a lift on a plane or in their current role with no solution in sight?

Being honest that you are in this place is a good start, and I can assure you there is hope and a way through to your next opportunity.

The big question is...

Are you just stalled on the next step, or are you genuinely questioning your future and where your life is heading?

This can be a complex problem, so for now, I will provide two options:

1. If it is your immediate next step:

Start by going to your HR specialist or get some external help to position you best for the next role, promotion or pay rise. You will quickly know if you are back on track or if there is more work to do from an achievement sense.

2. If you are questioning your future and are unsure how to begin:

You could start by purchasing some great books – here are some that might help.

Published this year - Sort Your Career Out - make more money by Shelly Johnson and Glen James. This practical book covers all the usual topics of mindset, values, skills, goals and risks. Its focus is on you being in the driving seat. It also has templates and tips on how to leave your current job which not a lot of books offer.

Also published this year, Amy Porterfield’s book Two Weeks Notice, find the courage to quit your job, make more money, work where you want and change the world where the title says it all! Amy comes from a marketing background and has a strong entrepreneurial spirit in her step-by-step approach. Her audience is those who want to move out of corporate to start their own business.

Published in 2009,Getting Unstuck, a guide to discovering your next career path by Timothy Butler. This classic book supports the psychological impacts of feeling unstuck and how this can block us from moving forward. It offers strategies to recognise you are stuck and helps you find the patterns of meaning in your life so you can then take action.

I caution you not to approach life and future options as you would your next role options.

Sometimes if you jump ahead too quickly you can discover that what you thought you wanted and got, wasn’t totally the solution you might actually be looking for.

Shamelessly I believe finding a career mentor who is 100% focused on getting into your elevator, or onto your plane and guiding you off, then walking with you to the destination you want to go, is the best investment you will ever make.

What’s the payoff?

If you don't feel a sense of peace right now, but you are unsure if it's the next role, or maybe something more significant, feel free to contact me to have an initial discussion.



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