Career Frustration? Four Steps To Getting Unstuck

Career Frustration? Four Steps To Getting Unstuck

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

As a long-term entrepreneur and success coach, I have direct experience dealing with my own and clients’ career frustration. It happens to virtually everyone in every field — regardless of the position you hold.

If not dealt with effectively, the experience of frustration can become overwhelming, unmanageable, scary and even paralyzing. Armed with the proper frustration-busting strategies, you can quickly turn what may feel like a negative no-way-out or doomsday situation into an opportunity for positive change, greater personal and professional expansion and increased success.

When you find yourself stuck in feelings of frustration about your career, here are four steps you can take to get unstuck and move forward in a positive direction:

Step 1: Shift The Energy

The first thing to do is break up the feelings of frustration by refocusing your attention on something different that you have control over. Here are some examples:

A: Move into a different environment that brings you a sense of peace or calm — do something healthy like go outside for a walk or run, or do some other kind of exercise.

B: Go to your favorite coffee shop and sit and sip for a break.

C: Find a quiet place to meditate for 15 minutes.

D: Switch your focus off the source of frustration and onto a work-related task that you enjoy (something that gives you a feeling of joy and accomplishment) and that doesn’t require anyone else’s involvement, such as writing an article.

Most frustration is born out of the inability to get others to do what you want or need them to do. Therefore, by focusing your energy on a task that you have complete control over, you can release the feelings of frustration that bind you. This can take you back into a positive mindset and allow you to revisit the source of frustration and problem-solve in a more rational state of mind.

Step 2: Evaluate The Source Of Frustration

After you’ve returned to a state of calm, it’s time to take a rational and realistic look at the situation and assess whether there is, in fact, a real problem to be solved or whether your own character traits might be causing self-inflicted frustration. Personally, I can allow my tendency to be impatient to cause frustration at times. Write an honest evaluation of your own and/or others’ part in the frustration that you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself, and specifically identify your character traits (unrealistic expectations of others, impatience, fear of the future, etc.).

Step 3: Take Action

If you see that your own traits — such as perfectionism, impatience and unrealistic expectations of others — might be getting in the way of being in a positive state of mind, then commit to working on them to become more effective and successful. Shift the focus off of others and onto yourself by conducting an honest appraisal of yourself. Ask yourself these questions, and write down your answers: What could I be doing better to evolve myself? What could I be doing better in this situation that’s causing me so much frustration? Why am I allowing this to cause me so much stress?

Journaling is one of the best ways to work on your character defects. Another way is to work with a coach or mentor to help you identify what’s at the root of the fear that’s driving the frustration. This can release the fear that binds you, help you liberate yourself from those traits and maximize success in minimum time.

If you find that it’s someone else who is leading to your frustration — because they’re failing to do what they’re responsible for or they aren’t capable of performing their job — then the next step might be to either talk to them about their performance or to begin the search to replace them.

Step 4: Don’t Settle For Less

Sometimes we stay the course in jobs, relationships and situations long after we’ve seen the hard evidence that they aren’t a healthy fit for our career goals or our overall well-being. It’s often uncomfortable to confront the reality that it may be time to move on, but staying in an unhealthy situation for too long will likely continue to cause you frustration and postpone the achievement of your goals. In the end, it probably doesn’t serve you or others involved.

If you find that something in your current career is a consistent source of frustration after having taken all of the above steps, don’t see it as a sign of failure, but rather as a sign of your own positive growth. Congratulate yourself because it means that you’ve put in the hard work and are now ready for an upgrade to something more fulfilling that can serve to help you attain true success, which I believe is a balanced achievement of both wealth and well-being.

Find Balance as an Entrepreneur: Learn the True Definition of Success

Find Balance as an Entrepreneur: Learn the True Definition of Success

You can find balance as an entrepreneur if you understand the true definition of success.

I believe in a model of success that hasn’t been applied before, and once you learn it, you can achieve a balance of wealth and well-being.

In the past, there has been no universal definition of success that is holistic and takes the whole person into account. This results in a focus in one area only – such as making money or being of service.

I have worked with a Wall Street executive who dedicated his life to creating wealth, but near the end of his career felt emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. Despite his wealth, he felt like a failure.  On the other end of the spectrum is a woman who had worked directly with the Dalai Lama – a spiritual guru – but she was unable to continue her valuable work because she had no money.  They were extremely successful in one aspect of their lives but could not sustain it. They were either wealthy and unhappy, or well-adjusted but unable to support themselves financially.

If you’d like to learn more about a balanced achievement of wealth and well-being, and understand the definition of success as it applies to the whole person, please listen to this Forbes podcast where I share my ideas, along with other members of the Forbes Coaches Council:

Unlearn What You Have Learned, Focus, & Find Balance

Find out more about:

  • The four cornerstones of success and developing habits to nourish each one
  • The skill of unlearning old habits and proficiencies in order to replace them with new ones
  • Training your brain to overcome moments of overwhelm and distraction

More reading:

Learn more about broken definitions of success.

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire:  Are You Really Present for Success? Take the Quiz

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: Are You Really Present for Success? Take the Quiz

Time Management is hailed as the one of the major keys to success. And yet, I’ve long ago discovered that how you manage your mind is far more important than how you manage your time. If you can’t take control over your thoughts, then any effort at time management is going to be ineffectual.

Focus is about being in the present moment. The degree of focus that one can achieve is directly related to one’s ability to manage their mind. Those with the greatest capacity to manage their thoughts, especially putting at bey intruding thoughts, achieve the greatest degree of focus and are the ones that attain great success.

For a long time, I believed the concept of “being in the now” was too new agey of a concept that gave us all a scapegoat for not taking responsibility for having to think through and make tough decisions on events in our lives that need to be made in advance. I felt the concept robbed us of our ability to think outside of the box because it kept us in the box of the present moment, failing to transport our mental capacities to another dimension beyond the here and now.  But, what I “now” (pun intended) know is that being mentally strong enough to control being present in the now, is having the mental prowess to become a world class success.

My earlier belief that it was a free-pass on taking responsibility for one’s life, came as I witnessed many people who used the concept as an excuse to avoid the realities of their lives. The decision about what you are going to do at any given moment (either to be responsible or irresponsible) is a personal choice, which either choice sets you up  to cop out of your responsibilities or take charge of your life.

Take this Quiz to Find Out If You’re Copping Out or Opting in to Being Present for Success:

1. Does “going with the flow” mean that you don’t have a plan for your day?

2. When “in the moment” do you frequently have intruding thoughts?

3. Do you sometimes “come to” and realize you narrowly avoided a mishap?

4. When immersed in a task at hand and an unexpected event happens to disrupt your focus, does it derail you from being able to remain calm, rational and able to complete the task at hand?

If you’ve answered yes to at least one of the questions above, it means it’s time to practice upping your mental prowess abilities to allow you to be more fully present to the achievement of maximum wealth and well-being.  Notice that I say “practice”. It’s just like batting practice. You show up, you practice hitting the ball and when you miss, you don’t give up. You look at how you can do better next time. And, you keep showing up for batting practice, no matter how good you get, because you know there’s always going to be another big game ahead and you’d better be prepared to be at your best.

In Closing My Shocking Confession: Ironically, I had planned to pen a different closing confession. But, as I sat down to write this blog, I lost all power in my house and neighborhood. Then, the helicopters and ambulances started to roar around me. It’s now been over two hours with no power. It’s very cold in here. I have no heat. Everything in the fridge is melting. And, just now the power on this laptop is about to drain completely out. I have maybe a minute left to finish here before shuts down. When the power went out, I initially ran amok trying to call utility company, family, emergency services, etc. Then I caught myself…I thought, well, I can panic, get stressed-out, and pack ice boxes, or I can sit here and use the quiet to write my blog as I had planned.  I sat down and began to write. I still have no power.

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: Convert Your Losses into Wins for Ever Lasting Success

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: Convert Your Losses into Wins for Ever Lasting Success

Happy New Year! I’m determined to make this my most successful year ever! How about you?

No matter how much success or lack of success you’ve achieved up to this point, there is always a way forward to expand your wealth and well-being. But, expansion takes introspection, and if you’re not willing to go to any lengths to grow yourself, how can you possibly believe you’re going to increase your wealth and well-being? It’s magical thinking to believe you’ll get that which you want and haven’t yet gotten, by doing the same ole’ things. To get what you want, you must do something different. And, your own happiness and success is 100% your full responsibility, not anybody else’s.

The New Year is always a good time to take a fearless personal inventory of yourself to realistically determine what new behaviors and habits you need to do to achieve the success that you want in 2018 and beyond.

One immediate way to enter the new year and to shift your attitude to a success mindset is to begin to see every single outcome as an opportunity to increase your success. You see, defeat only becomes failure if you accept it as such. Defeat is an opportunity waiting to be transformed into a bigger success than if you had achieved victory the 1st go around—that is if you know how to convert your losses into wins.

Here Are the Top Four Ways to Convert Your Perceived Losses into Even Greater Wins:

1. Attitude is Everything: Adopt a winner’s attitude about success by understanding that you will win some and lose some. The uber successful know that it’s not whether they win or lose that counts, but how they handle both scenarios that will determine the amount of sustainable success they’ll be able to achieve going forward. Have an attitude of grace, gratitude and a commitment to extract the growth opportunity in every win or loss and you’ll succeed beyond your expectations.

2. Drop the Blame Game: Blame is a total waste of valuable energy, that time spent there, only delays your time frames to your next win. Take the hit, grab the gold in what the situation revealed and move into renewed action.

3. Use Hindsight as a Valuable Tool: All positive action starts with assessment. Use rational analysis rather than self-loathing to evaluate what you’ve learned, what you’ll do differently or additionally next time around. Seeing hindsight as an asset and roadmap to your next win will make the assessment a positive experience.

4. Be a Long-Term Player: Everyone wants to be a long-term player, but not everyone has the long-term player play book. Only the grateful, graceful, good sportsmanlike behaved, and compassionate person (who truly cares about everyone’s success), will become a successful long-termer. Those who don’t, won’t or can’t, simply will not be able to sustain success in the long-run.

Be a good sportsman and have a successful yearIf you can honestly say that you went all in it to win it, regardless of the perceived outcome, you’ve won. Be truthful with yourself in assessing if you gave 100% commitment to the process and if not, don’t beat yourself up. Use the valuable insight gained to grow your success going forward. That’s what winners do.

We are perfectly imperfect human beings. But, if you continue to do the interior work by taking fearless personal inventory, you will continue to grow yourself and your ability to expand your everlasting wealth and well-being.

In Closing My Shocking Confession: I was looking for a company to place a very large order with. There were a handful of companies who threw their hat in the ring to compete to win the bid. I was one-third the way through the selection process, when a company who was one I had initially reached out to, finally came forward. Though late on the scene, the executive was very personable, communicative, informative and within competitive market cost range. It finally came down to choosing between the late-comer and the first-comer. The first-comer had earned an early advantage that the late-comer just wouldn’t be able to make up in the time frames I needed. Once I advised the late-comer that I had decided to go with his competitor, but that I would be awarding another contract next quarter, the exec dropped me like a hot potato – no reply.  In hindsight, the late on the scene action was a tip-off of the type of unsportsmanlike conduct that would later be revealed. He not only lost once, but lost all my business going forward.