Your co-workers would say you are a zombie. You have lost your motivation and it shows. There is no spark in your soul as you drift between meetings. You are in desperate need of a new role — one that actually challenges you. But when you are in a listless state like this, it can be difficult to get worked up about anything. You must figure out how to jolt yourself into action. Sleepwalking is no way to live.
True happiness comes from achieving something meaningful. But it requires you to push yourself beyond the comfortable and get engaged.
If you feel that you are stagnating at work, it is most likely time to go after a new role. You may get nervous that you will embarrass yourself if you try. That is natural. The possibility of failure can induce anxiety and this is a powerful feeling. But staying stuck in the status quo is even scarier — because you will miss out on opportunities to grow and contribute.
Expanding past your comfort zone can be scary — no matter who you are and what you have accomplished.
Active engagement will look different depending on what you want to grow into. Some people will go after general skills that could help with moving towards something new. Others will stretch by focusing on that big milestone — the bigger title or opportunity. What matters is that you identify exactly what you want and then have the courage to go boldly after it.
Striving can be agonizing. But it can also be exhilarating. To avoid letting nerves get the best of you, I suggest taking a methodical approach.
You must first create a vision for what you want and what you want to work on. What experiences have you always hoped to realize? What dreams have you not yet fulfilled? Write down these goals and then commit to achieving the one that is most important to you.
You need to create a plan and have the discipline to follow it. Sometimes it helps to solicit help from others. Find a mentor or sign up for a class that forces you to devote consistent time to your growth. Having structure will support your ongoing professional growth — especially if you are ready to take on more responsibility at work.
Your journey towards finding a role that stimulates you may not be straightforward. When things get hard, pay attention to your emotional reactions. Gut feelings can be valuable clues about where you can develop. For example, if your first instinct is always to shy away from leading projects, this could be an indication that you should probably do it.
You are not going to move into a new role all at once. Think of the steps there as preparation for that big move. You can start by saying yes to the opportunities that are already in front of you. Speak up in a meeting with senior leaders or volunteer to lead a small project for the first time. Work incrementally.
Achievements are cause for celebration. Remember to reward yourself when you do develop a major new skill or are hired for a new role. Stop to enjoy each perfect moment. Being grateful and pausing to reflect on your success makes you more resilient when things do not go well.
You alone are responsible for challenging yourself to do more — no one else will do it for you.
Pushing yourself requires a good deal of vision, grit, and boldness. But you will get more comfortable each time you do something scary. And I bet you will enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes from finding a new way to contribute meaningfully.
After all, this is what it means to truly be alive — vibrant, energetic, and constantly searching for the next challenge to tackle. Zombies do not have this privilege, but you do.
How do you best scare yourself to take on new challenges?
Bad boss? Meaningless work? Ready to be scared again? Maybe it is time for a change — Aha! is hiring.