How to get your career unstuck?

You’re bored out of your mind and can’t see an obvious next step within your current employer. You might be stuck behind an ungrateful boss, or perhaps you’ve just been doing the same job too long. No matter the details, that feeling of “being stuck” saps your energy and makes you feel like there is no hope for your career.

“THBPBPTHPT!” as they say in the cartoons. That’s sheer nonsense. You just need to break out of your rut. Here’s how to get started.

Practice irrational optimism. Your first challenge is to escape the negative mindset that’s enveloped you. Whatever it takes, create brief periods of time – an hour or an afternoon – during which you are irrationally optimistic. Forget about all the things that you perceive are holding you back. Just picture yourself as an incredible success, perhaps five years from now.

Read inspirational books. Watch movies and documentaries about people who overcame huge odds. Go to see inspirational speakers. Until you foster some optimism, you’ll be blind to the many possibilities that await you.

Create your bucket list of jobs. Make the longest possible list of dream jobs. These are not necessarily your next job; they are jobs you would love to have, in a perfect world. Think ridiculously big. Head of the World Bank. Publisher of the Washington Post. Founder of the next Google. Author of the number one bestselling leadership book.

You don’t have to create the list in one sitting. In fact, you’ll get the best results if you keep adding to your list over an extended period of time.

Fill in the details of your bucket list. As your list grows, look for patterns. Are you drawn to certain types of challenges? Do you crave prestige? Are all of your bucket list positions in education, while you work today in pharmaceuticals? Look for clues about what excites you and makes you feel energetic again.

Rethink your image. Go find a mirror and ask yourself whether you look and act the part of the positions at the top of your list. To make it easier for others to picture you in such roles, what do you have to change? Don’t limit yourself to just your appearance; look at your social media profiles, your resume and even the ways you interact with others. You might even want to lease a new car.

Now, start to make some improvements. Take your time, and do it right. Shift your image in a positive direction.

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