Get Unstuck by Recognizing Your Expertise

Dear Debra: I’ve reached the highest level possible at a small company. My well-paying, mid-level marketing job leaves me depressed and uninspired, but I can’t see any other options for someone like me who just lucked into this job and stayed for five years. –29, boring, and stuck

Take off your blinders. Your success is a result of your own talent, hard work, and volition—not luck. I give my clients a simple exercise to remind them of their marketplace value:  Go through your resume and take in the sheer volume of experience and knowledge you’ve accumulated. Then update your resume.  Write down everything you did and learned on the job.  Go through your files to refresh your memory about your educational and professional accomplishments. Record recent wins, awards, raises, formal and informal feedback. Get your successes out and in order.

Many people don’t recognize themselves on paper after completing this exercise. They say, “Wow. That just doesn’t seem like me.” They suddenly realize that their quantifiable marketplace value is higher than they’d initially supposed. Becoming an external observer to your own achievements is a wake-up call: your body of work is impressive—and you made it happen. This boost frees your mind to consider career directions you hadn’t thought of before.

Make your first move. Put yourself out there. Positive feedback may inspire an epiphany. One 30-year-old professional found just that:

I was so dissatisfied with my last company, yet didn’t look for a new job for a long time. My work ethic is that if the company is doing the right thing for you, then you have to stay with it. But I reached a point where I really wanted to go somewhere else.  I made a few calls, then sent my resume off.  I got back an ecstatically positive response, which I so wasn’t expecting. It hit me so hard, like, “Oh my god! I have value!”

Everything you’ve accomplished so far is an indicator of how far you can go. The simple act of updating your resume and reviewing your files will instantly motivate you to reach for a new opportunity because you can see that you’re ready for it.

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What a fabulous post to get one going for the new year! Being one of the lucky people born at the beginning of the year, I wait until my birthday before I start seriously deciding what I want to accomplish. Yikes! I only have one more day.

I quit my job, which I loved dearly, and boy it was a rough year. I didn't realize just how much I leaned on that job to define my worth at the expense of me. Well a year and some few months later I am glad to report that I have found myself, renew, refreshed and rejuvenated and tell you what, My worth will never be defined by forces out-side of me. I am grateful and I am thankful for the journey and experience.

You know what they say, "when you work hard at a job, you make a living, when you work hard on yourself, you make a fortune!" -Jim Rohn

Well all I can say is hello fortune!

Debra, what an inspiring post. It sounds like everyone should get in the habit of keeping a folder or scrapbook of their wins as a constant reminder of what value we all bring to the table.

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I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

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