Getting Over the Entry-Level Slump, Rediscovering Your Career

Rediscover_Dec2011_webYou landed a job that gave you the first steps to following your career path. You’ve worked hard on every task assigned, learned as much as you could, and made sure you were on your way toward success. But after a few years at your first job, reality has set in. You realize there are no spring, summer, or winter breaks, there are real ramifications to calling in sick and going home early. And, staying late to finish projects may take its toll on work-life balance.

Maybe you haven’t earned that promotion as quickly as you’d hoped, your raise hasn’t matched the increase in workload, or the shiny newness of your first “real” job has faded. We all feel a little burnout at some point in our career, but before you do something drastic, take the time to follow these steps to rejuvenate your job satisfaction.

Mind Your Mentors

Mentors can bring a different perspective to the issues you’re facing. More often than not, they’ve experienced the same feelings and situations you have. They know what it’s like to hit their first rut on the job and can provide advice on how to rediscover your career passion and enthusiasm. You shouldn’t have to feel alone when your career path hits a wall. Mentors are there to help guide you around issues so you can be prepared to climb the next wall that tries to get in your way.

Validate Your Values

Just like anything in life, things happen. Whether it’s your education, relationships, or career, the journey is full of high and low points. There will be times in your career when you will be ecstatically proud of where you are and what you’ve done, but there may also be times when you are discouraged and want to quit. It’s through the ups and downs where you can clarify what you value.

What made you proud during the high point? Is there anything that fueled your passion during a low point? Once you determine these beliefs and values, you can decide whether you are fulfilling these values at work. Don’t just focus on your current situation, but also think about the future. Where do you see yourself in five years? Don’t worry about how you will get there, but imagine what you want to be doing in that time. Try using those images to fuel your passion.

Get Away for a While

This may not be the most viable option early in your career. It may be difficult to get a long period of time off, or it may be financially difficult to take time off. If you have a sizable savings or family to rely on, consider taking some time away from the office to collect your thoughts. Sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries. Having time away from the office can give you the time you need to re-evaluate your values and beliefs. Think of it as a sort of career-planning session. Where are you in your career? Why are you there? Where do you want to be? How do you plan to get there? Being away will give you a different perspective on your current situation and help you make a more balanced, thought out decision.

Questions and Reflections

If you have too many financial or professional obligations to take time off from work, try setting some free time for reflection. As long as you separate yourself from your work slump and reflect on what you’ve done and what you will do, you can make decisions with a clear head. Being in the middle of it while making decisions can be tiring and lead to big mistakes for your career. This doesn’t have to be in a vacation spot either. You can find an hour to reflect everyday while you exercise, commute, or cook.

Rediscovering your passion is just one step in many as you travel down your career path. It’s normal and nothing to fear. Whatever you learn now will help you be better prepared for when the next slump cycle hits. What are some of the things you’ve done to get over your career dry spell?

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