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Pushing Past a Career Slump

Pushing Past a Career Slump

By Denene Brox

Are you having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Are you bored at work and can't wait for the weekends? Has your great "idea well" run dry? These could be signs that you have a lack of motivation in your career.

"If you find your career stagnating, it's on you to figure out what will help motivate you," says Kurt Weyerhauser, managing partner with Kensington Stone, an executive search firm. "In today's economy you are really left on your own to drive your career and achieve your aspirations."

While it's important to determine if you've hit a wall because your job isn't interesting and challenging, there are steps you can take to get out of a career slump.

Understand What Motivates You

Exploring the things that truly motivate you will help get your career moving in the right direction. Some people are motivated by job titles and money, while some may be motivated by helping others. If your current job isn't meeting these needs, you'll have a better understanding of which direction to head in next.

Motivation can also come from setting goals. Understanding your goals and how your current job fits into the bigger plan is the key. "Goals move you and your career forward," says Andrea Kay, an author and career counselor in Cincinnati. "They can help you develop as a person."

Challenge Yourself

When defining your goals, make sure you build in your own challenges. "There is no benevolent corporation to manage your career for you," warns Weyerhauser. "You don't have to wait for your company to provide training or a development plan in order to move forward."

One strategy to get you motivated is to get a support system in place that challenges you.

Another strategy is a little friendly internal competition. "Maybe you can assign yourself a well-known counterpart and measure your career by hers -- not competitively, but if you admire what she's accomplished, you can set guideposts to help you get to that point," says Rachel Weingarten, author of Career and Corporate Cool.

Keep Your Cool

Weingarten warns that the worst thing you can do is let your boss or colleagues know that you're not on top of your game. So keep your lack of motivation to yourself or vent feelings to safe mentors.

If you find that you can't stir up any motivation you may want to begin a new job search, but be careful not to let your current work slide in the meantime.

"The last thing you want to happen is to be fired for lack of performance," says Jan Melnik, president of Absolute Advantage, a professional career management firm in Durham, Connecticut. "It's infinitely better to take control and find the right career and propel yourself in a new, exciting direction."

Finally, don't make any rash decisions or lose your cool. "It's not a good idea to walk off the job or tell someone off," says Kay, because such impulses could tarnish your professional reputation.

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