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Career satisfaction,  productivity,  Stress Management,  Work-life integration,  WorkLife balance

Feeling Stuck and Unmotivated? Invest in Your Emotional Vitality First

 Feeling stuck and unmotivated in your job? Not getting enough recognition or the upward mobility you deserve? Getting feedback that you are not doing enough?

A software engineer in the mid-level in her career, let’s call her Veronica, came to me with this recently. She sounded pretty frustrated and depleted. As we spoke further, I realized that she had been feeling this for a few years; the pandemic only made it worse.

The current job was no longer serving her; she needed to move out.  But the only reason for staying was her lack of energy to focus on a job search or interview preparation. It became a chicken and egg problem. The mention of “no energy” caught my attention. I could see that she was languishing, a term recently popularized by Adam Grant, which means someone is not having the zest for life though technically they are still functional.  Unfortunately, this is a common phenomenon among many in the workforce today, pushing us to eventual burnout. 

Languishing: Research from Better Up Labs

Veronica said she wanted to find a new job but didn’t know how to progress given the lack of motivation to do anything. The fact that any such change requires our core energy. We can’t just drag ourselves through it. I suggested she prioritizes cultivating energy (emotional vitality) in her day-to-day life. In addition to eating and exercising right, it means being mindful, doing something that gives us simple joy.  It could be allocating time for a hobby, going for a nature walk while listening to your favorite music, or simply attending to your own emotional needs and wants. As a simple practice for a busy day, I often recommend 1-2 minutes of mindful breathing to get in touch with my body. 

Veronica picked two activities that give her joy: outdoor walks and crafts. After a few weeks, when she and I talked, I noticed that she was much more upbeat than at the previous meeting. She recognized that too. I then offered her some coaching on the job search question. 

Veronica saw the job search as preparing for a big test, the interview. Updating the resume or brushing up the interview skills is hardly a fun task for anyone. Being in a depleted state with no time for self makes it even worse. As I mentioned in this article, “In an intentional career, each transition is a thoughtful process. If we see it as a one-off event on our LinkedIn profile and resume, we may miss out on the underlying humane approach altogether. ” Reach out to your network, let them know your intention. It may generate new ideas and opportunities. If you are stuck with resume updates, hire a professional resume writer or even a job search coach to guide you through the process. You don’t have to do it alone. Not just Veronica, many talented professionals who are languishing still burden themselves with unrealistic high expectations.

Here are some of the common themes I found:

  • Assume job change has to start with interview preparation or resume update
  • No networking
  • Trying to everything with no support system
  • Reactive thinking

The root causes are:

  • No room for a big picture thinking
  • Almost zero self-care, low emotional vitality 

If these sound familiar, stop immediately! Take some time off. Use your vacation times, sick leaves to take care of yourself. Integrate self-care into your daily routine. Job search, finding your next opportunity demands a lot of creativity. Train Your Brain To Be More Creative; this article advised adding these three things in your regular life, engaging with nature, meditating, and getting moving

When you are languishing, you may think you need to power through. But science suggests the opposite. Cut some slack for yourself to gain the very needed emotional vitality. Without making it a priority, you will not only struggle, but you may also push yourself to the verge of burnout. And that will be very hard to return from.

Related: How is Your Emotional Tire Pressure?

Join me for this FREE bi-monthly event Q&A with Sharmin, a safe, confidential space to explore your career and leadership challenges. The next one is Friday, July 9, on Zoom at noon PST/3 PM EST. Only 10 spots per session.

The feature image is from Pixabay.com

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