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Break Through Your Career Plateau

A career plateau, if left to fester too long can damage your reputation, minimize your career opportunities and leaving you feeling miserable about your work.  

Although it doesn’t happen overnight, it can sneak up on us and take us unawares.  For a time we can hum along – having an impact, making a difference and feeling fulfilled.  Then one day we can look around and ask – is this all there is? 

Have you reached a career plateau?

Here are 10 keys to breaking through your career plateau.

1. Expand your comfort zone. 

Your career plateau is representative of your comfort zone.  Ouch … I know!  Your comfort zone is exactly that… comfortable.  It can keep us trapped in a false sense of security.

If you want to move past your current plateau you will have to step outside your current comfort zone.  There is no other way past it!  This might involve taking on a new project, tackling a difficult conversation, raising your profile or stepping into a completely new role.

2. Up your game. 

What got you to this point in your career is not what it will take to get to the next level.  As they say… if you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results.  So a little up leveling will be required… to your thinking, actions, attitude and behaviours.

3. Change your internal dialogue. 

What are you telling yourself about your career?  What are your underlying beliefs around what you are capable of?  When our internal dialogue is out of alignment with or even in conflict with what we “say” we want, progress is near to impossible.

For example if you’re thinking you’d like to lead a bigger team and manage a bigger budget but your ongoing self talk is “who am I to think I could do that” or “I’m not worthy” – then you’re absolutely going to hit up against recurring resistance to growth.   

4. Challenge your fears. 

Could it be possible you’ve hit a career plateau because you fear failure (or even success?)  Moving past this plateau will absolutely require you to accept a little risk and to face your fears.  And consider for a moment the risks to you, your health, your sanity and your professional reputation if you were to stay exactly where you are for another 12 months?

And let’s face it … our fears are almost always unfounded!  

5. Know yourself. 

Know your strengths.  Know what inspires you to take action. Know what you love to do and where you add the most value. Know what gives you energy and what drains your energy away. Know what drives commitment, passion and fulfilment.

Then ask yourself – “Am I tapping into the best of me in my current work?”  When we are not… it’s way too easy to settle for what is.  And really – are you someone who is prepared to settle?

6. Get Clarity. 

The fastest pathway to growth beyond your current plateau is to get clarity on what you truly want.  You can and will not move forward without clarity.  Confusion and uncertainty will keep you firmly rooted to exactly where you are today.

7. Set a new goal.

Once you have clarity of who you are, what’s most important to you and what you truly want next … it’s the time to set a new goal that will both inspire action and guide decision making.  Get as specific as you can and answer the question: “What would I really like to be doing?”  It can be scary to claim what you want. It’s time to get into the driver’s seat and creating your career by design rather than leaving it up to chance.

8. Focus your time and energy. 

Many women I work with reach a career plateau because they fear that taking the next step will require more of them and they can not see how they could work any harder.  Can you relate?  The truth is … at a certain point in your career it’s not about working harder.  It requires you to work smarter.  And being conscious about where you focus time and energy.

9. Take time out & inject more white space into your day.

The more senior roles you take on, the more thinking time you need to schedule into your day.  At this level you are employed for your knowledge, experience and wisdom, not your technical expertise or your capacity to do the doing.  That is what your team are for!

10. Give yourself permission. 

And finally … give yourself permission to step into your fullest potential.  You are worthy.  You have more to contribute. It’s time to do what it takes to make it happen.

And … stop waiting for someone (your boss, your mentor, your Dad, your partner) to give you permission to take this next step.  The only person who can make that decision is YOU! 

If you’ve hit a career plateau – it’s time to take some action.  The longer you leave it the harder it is to did you way out towards your next ideal role.  Start by focusing on any one of these keys and watch the ripple effect of change.

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