How to overcome career stalling: A guide to getting unstuck

How to overcome career stalling: A guide to getting unstuck

Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in your career, paddling hard but going nowhere? Meet Sandra, one of my clients who’s in the very same boat. She’s ambitious, hardworking, and ready to climb the ladder to a senior position with more responsibility and, let’s be honest, a higher salary. But despite her best efforts, Sandra hasn’t been getting the opportunities to work on key projects or the exposure she needs to advance. She suspects her manager might be inadvertently—or perhaps deliberately—putting up roadblocks to her career growth. This phenomenon, often referred to as “career stalling” or “career blocking,” is more common than you might think.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in Sandra's shoes? Here are some strategies to I recommended to her:

Develop an exit strategy

It may sound drastic, but sometimes the best move is to plan for a graceful exit. If you’ve hit a wall in your current role with no signs of progress, it might be time to look for opportunities elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you should storm out of the office tomorrow—instead, start by updating your resume, networking, and exploring new positions that align with your career goals. An exit strategy can provide you with a sense of control and a clear direction forward.

Open & honest conversations

Communication is key in many aspects of life, and your career is no exception. Request a one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss your career aspirations and concerns. Approach the conversation with an open mind and a positive attitude, focusing on your desire for growth and how you can achieve it together. It’s possible your manager is unaware of your aspirations or the impact of their actions on your career path. This could open the door to solutions you hadn't considered or reveal misunderstandings that can be quickly cleared up.

Gather data and push back

If you suspect your career progression is being blocked, gather concrete examples of your achievements, contributions, and instances where you’ve been overlooked for projects or promotions. Present this data to your manager or HR department as evidence of your readiness for more significant challenges and responsibilities. Be assertive but professional, advocating for your career without alienating those who can help you advance.


Cultivate patience 

Cultivating patience in your career, especially in situations of career stalling like Sandra's, involves understanding and practice. Patience is not merely about waiting but maintaining a positive attitude during that wait, embracing each step towards your goal, and recognizing the value of the process itself. Research has shown that patience has tangible benefits, including better mental health, making individuals less prone to depression and negative emotions. 

Remember, facing a career block doesn’t mean the end of your growth; it’s merely a hurdle. With the right strategies, you can overcome these challenges and continue on your path to success. Sandra's story doesn’t end here, and neither does yours.

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