Are you feeling stuck in your career or your life?
It is part of the human experience to feel stuck at some point in their life. Being “frozen in place” looks different for each person, be they a student struggling to navigate their future, an employee losing track of their career path, an unemployed worker losing motivation, or a stay-at-home parent feeling trapped right in their own home.
Being stuck can hinder us from moving forward. I am well aware of its consequences because I used to be in that situation for a long time.
If you feel stuck in any way, this article might come in handy because these four strategies can help you break free from whatever is holding you back.
1. Embrace changes
I can tell with absolute confidence that the first thing you need to do, no matter who you are and what you are struggling with, is to open yourself up to changes.
Of course, you can sit tight and bear your discomfort while waiting for some hero to come and rescue you. But will they come at all, and when? Only God knows.
If you want a different result, you must step out of your comfort zone and change your course of action.
2. Take massive action
I came across this impressive concept, “massive" action, in the book “Sell or Be Sold” by Grant Cardone. According to his explanation, taking massive action means focusing your extra efforts on a goal within a specific time. More specifically, if you want to achieve something in the future, such as success, you should increase your effort by at least ten times what you should do.
How can the 10X rule secure your success? As the old saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” If you go the extra mile but fail to reach your goal, you are more likely to enjoy many other worthwhile achievements along the way.
With a new project, if I struggle with it for a while without seeing any prospects, I will boost my effort by ten times to see how it works instead of giving up immediately. This way, I can double-check its viability as well as my capabilities.
Take my Youtube channel, The Present Writer, for example. I was by no means the trailblazer from academia to produce educational content in Vietnamese. When I embarked on the journey, some of my friends had gone a long way as YouTubers. Through our conversations, I could tell they were education enthusiasts who went to great lengths to create in-depth content. Interestingly, whether novice or experienced, we shared the same thoughts that creative visuals, storytelling, and interaction with the audience were supposed to be the most challenging pieces of the puzzle to be solved.
Of course, I desperately wanted to resolve them all at once. However, my child was too young at the time. On the other hand, I just resumed working during the COVID-19 pandemic, so I could hardly afford a large amount of money on such a personal project. On mature consideration, I bought a camera, lenses, and a studio light kit, then continuously tested camera angles and spent hundreds of hours watching other videos on the same topic and filming tutorials.
Later on, when I shared my first self-made video with other Youtubers, I was suggested to focus only on the content to attract a suitable audience instead of paying too much attention to visual elements. From their perspective, if I struggled to do everything on my own, from filming and editing to publishing, I would be unable to maintain the content quality in the long run. It required too much effort, so they said.
But for me, my effort was far from too much. It was not equal to the tenfold level suggested by Grant Cardone’s philosophy. But I did my best within my power at the time.
I recall sitting near the window at 9 AM to make the most of the natural light to film the first video. When it was released online, there was some feedback on the background noise that sounded like the wind blowing. After careful inspection, I realized that my breath was the main culprit, as the airflow kept hitting the microphone when I spoke. Then I bought a several-dollar windshield and resolved the problem. Long story short, I would do everything to the best of my ability to improve the overall quality instead of solely focusing on the content and ignoring other elements.
So far, most of those YouTubers I had discussions with have abandoned their channels because of their schedule and inability to develop further on non-content-related aspects. As a result, their channels remained almost unchanged even after 2-3 years. In other words, they failed to achieve a remarkable outcome because they chose not to take “massive” action.
3. Prioritize personal growth over career development
The truth is, you can hardly develop your career or increase your income without investing in your personal growth first. The only way that you can expect to earn a large fortune effortlessly is by hitting the jackpot.
However, it happens once in a blue moon, and having a fortune doesn’t necessarily mean a better life if you lack efficient financial management skills. In reality, many jackpot winners lead more miserable lives because they cannot handle such a huge asset.
Similarly, suppose you do not strive to develop yourselves by continuously acquiring knowledge and experience. In that case, you are more likely to be overwhelmed by a huge workload or fail to seize the opportunities to elevate your career and life to a new level.
On the other hand, changing jobs is not always an easy feat. One’s career is likely to be affected by many external factors, and consequently, one will have to consider them deliberately before making a decision. And for married women with young children like I am, it will require even more thought.
If you are stuck at work but unable to change your circumstance immediately, you should focus on upgrading and upskilling yourselves in any possible way, such as reading books, taking courses, or learning from seniors and mentors.
4. Build your own career
Intimidating as it may sound, this strategy might be the perfect antidote to your “inability to change” in the long run.
If you are feeling stuck, no matter where you are in your life now, why don’t you start to create your career path?
When we work for others, our career is in the hands of our employers. For instance, we rely on them to get a promotion. In such cases, we can hardly identify our self-worth or whether our salary is worth the values we contribute to the company. In that sense, we have little control over our future. However, if we start our own business and persistently take massive action, the world is our oyster.
That said, I do not suggest that you quit your job immediately. As you might know, I am a salaried university professor, but I have built my second career where I am the owner.
I remember my first idea of starting a business popping up in my mind when I read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I was impressed when he dismissed the popular myth that only super-smart people could start a business. In reality, you only need a mandatory certificate to be eligible to establish a business in Vietnam.
It was the case for me. I used to partner with a publishing company on the first publication of my book, “Một cuốn sách về chủ nghĩa tối giản” (A Book on Minimalism). However, for its second edition, I decided to self-publish and self-distribute it through e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Tiki to optimize cost-effectiveness and offer the book at the lowest possible price. I was required to have a business registration certificate to legitimately sell my books on those platforms.
It was not a big challenge, indeed. I followed the registration procedure, and it took me only one week to receive the certificate, officially marking the beginning of my business. In short, creating my own career means no one could hold me back except myself.
In reminiscence, I am glad I took action instead of sitting tight, suffering, and succumbing to reality during those periods of being stuck. Significant changes only happen when we persistently and continuously take action.
Hopefully, this article will trigger your thoughts to come up with new ideas and fuel your motivation to get out of your comfort zone or break free from whatever is holding you back, no matter where you are in your life journey.