A few weeks ago I took a mini-vacation down to my favorite area of Florida, Seagrove Beach on beautiful 30A.
I was anxious to get my paddle board out on the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but the beach’s warning flags told me I should re-think my plans.
There was a purple flag indicating dangerous marine life, and a red flag indicating high hazards and strong currents.
So, I improvised and took my board out on Eastern Lake, a rare coastal dune lake that runs under Scenic Highway 30A and eventually feeds into the ocean after a heavy rain or other inflow.
Because it is a coastal dune lake, Eastern Lake is rather small. And since there hadn’t been a previous heavy rainfall to create an opening to the ocean, the sandy beach served as a barrier between the lake and the ocean.
I paddled from the beach end (the south end) of the lake where the salt water mixes with the fresh, to the marshy north end where I’m sure some alligators make their home.
It was only about a mile and a half from the beach barrier to the marsh end of the lake.
Needless to say, for someone who is used to paddling on rivers that run for hundreds of miles, I felt a bit trapped.
And unlike the ocean, I didn’t have a wide open space to explore, so all I could do was just keep paddling in one big circle around the perimeter of the lake.
Despite all the beauty surrounding me and the change of scenery from my regular paddle route, the feeling of going around in circles made me frustrated.
The experience of feeling trapped is one I’ve felt more than once in my career.
Whether it was when I was trapped in a toxic office environment, or when I was restless because I wasn’t working in my purpose.
It’s not a fun place to be, at all (I’m sure you can probably relate).
When faced with these situations, I’ve used various coping mechanisms that have led to changes in my situation for the better.
My paddle around the lake that day reminded me of all the possible ways to cope when faced with the feeling of being trapped in your career.
7 Possible Ways to Cope — Here Are Your Options:
1. Sometimes we don’t always get what we want when we want it, so be patient.
This is probably the most difficult option since most people aren’t naturally patient, myself included.
But, sometimes this is what it takes when certain factors aren’t within your control. All you can do are the things within your control.
For instance, when doing a job search you can build your network, learn how to market your skills and strengths, conduct informational interviews, apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews.
After that, it’s out of your hands and you have to be patient while the seeds you’ve sown grow into the right opportunity.
2. Make the best of your current situation.
Maybe you can’t change your situation right now, but you can change some things about it to make the best of it until another opportunity comes your way.
Check out my post 8 Ways to Make Your Current Job More Bearable.
3. Just enjoy and be content with and grateful for the beauty of your current place or situation because things will soon change for the better.
Often my clients are in a period of transition which feels uncomfortable for them.
Instead of letting it continue to frustrate me, I chose to make the most of that time by learning some new things and doing some really fun, awesome things as well.
I learned to relish that time because I knew it was a rare opportunity to do so.
That’s why I encourage my clients to relish periods of transition despite the uncertainty they’re facing.
The ones who do, are so glad they did, and the ones who don’t, often regret it.
4. Wait to make your move until conditions are more favorable.
You might have more control than you think, but you have to make sure you’re taking action in both a timely and responsible way.
When I first started my business, I didn’t immediately leave my full-time job with benefits. Instead, I started taking small steps toward my goal before taking a leap of faith.
To learn how to make a career risk doable, read my post Don’t Quit Your Daydream (Or Your Day Job).
5. Pay attention to the warning flags.
Just like I had to pay attention to the beach’s warning flags, you also have to look at the warning flags in your career.
For example, are you hearing rumors of potential layoffs at your company?
Is your job at risk of being replaced by the latest technology?
To know how to best prepare for such a situation, check out my post Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing and also click on the related posts for even more tips.
7. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come open. Make your own opportunity.
Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and make things happen for your career.
This could mean combining some of your skills and passions to start your own business.
Or it could mean proposing a new or different role for you at your current company that better incorporates your strengths and interests, therefore improving the company’s bottom line. A real win-win!
Which Option Is Best For You?
The trick is knowing which option to choose at which time.
In one of my own career trappings, I waited patiently for the conditions to be right to make my exit and spent that time wisely planning my course of action.
In another situation, I took a leap of faith.
Both coping mechanisms worked for me in those particular situations. But they probably would’ve failed had I taken a leap of faith when it was too early, or had I waited around when I should’ve taken action.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know which option to choose. And even then it can be difficult to know the best timing for your chosen option. A good career coach can help you determine both.
What’s causing you to feel trapped in your career right now?
Which option above is speaking to you?
I invite you to share in the comment box below.
I also invite you to start setting some goals that support the option (or options) that works best for you at this time.
Learn how to do so by subscribing to my newsletter and receiving a complimentary download of the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.