Three Truths About Being Stuck

In my last article, The Technical Interview Failure, I opened with the line,

Imagine you are in a boring meeting and one of your coworkers suddenly yells, “I really don’t care!”

and then I made the case that when you allow yourself to be distracted, you’re communicating “I don’t really care!” to those around you.

But what if you’re the one who really doesn’t care?

I’ve been there: I’ve been stuck, unmotivated, and sometimes struggled to even get out of bed and into the office. And I’ve seen it in people in every organization I’ve worked.

Here are three truths about being stuck:

It happens.

We get stagnant, complacent, and we lose that spark that we had when we first took on the work. Every day seems to run into the next, and it feels like it is never going to get better.

It happens, and it’s ok.

It’s ok? Yes. Without a doubt, yes, it is perfectly fine and normal to get stuck. With very few exceptions, it happens to everyone. People that are stuck aren’t lazy. They’re not less valuable. They’re not wasting their lives or careers. They’re stuck- that’s it. Which leads me to the third truth:

It happens, and it’s ok, and it’s not permanent.

While you’re in it, being stuck can really feel permanent. The walls begin to close in; you tell yourself that you’re not ready to take on new challenges or do something different, and maybe you just want to go back to when things were better. But it isn’t permanent. The chart below shows a technologist’s career path:

From the start of your career to today, I hope you’ve experienced periods of high growth – times where you were challenged, your skills were expanding, and you were engaged and connected to your work and the impact it had on your customers. As time moves on, the tasks that you previously had to really focus on became easier. You lost the excitement of completing something you’ve never done before. Boredom starts to creep in, and you find yourself in full “I don’t really care” mode.

Where you do find yourself now? High growth mode? Fully stagnant and frustrated, or somewhere in between? I’d love to hear from you (just email ken@elevaros.com). Next week I’ll cover some strategies to help manage these cycles and help you extend the high growth cycles and minimize the time spent stuck in the Information Technology mud.

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