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.