3 Career Planning Strategies to Get You Out of a Job Rut and Into the Life you Want

“I’m done! I can’t do this anymore! I want a job stacking shelves in Tesco.”

Have you ever had one of those melt down career moments when you think – I JUST CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! 

A moment when you want RADICAL change?

9 times out of 10 you probably let these moments pass.

You put your head down and keep pushing on with a job or a career that doesn’t feel quite right. 

You don’t get curious about what’s really going on.

So back to the “I’m done! I can’t do this anymore. I want a job stacking shelves in Tescos.” Story.

These are real words, spoken by a talented, senior women at the top of her game – and at the end of her tether! 

Instead of letting this moment of frustration pass, she got curious about it. 

She didn’t realise it but she’d just created a ‘fantasy career move’ – an extreme move, that she probably wouldn’t make, but which gave her lots of clues about what was most important to her career wise

Her fantasy career move was driven by a deep desire to see a more immediate outcome for her efforts AND shift to a place where work wasn’t consuming all her mental bandwidth.

She wanted less pressure and a shorter commute. She wanted to experience more joy and connection in her work. 

Sound good? Keep reading and we’ll share with you the tools we used with her to create her plan.

Career Strategy 1 - Notice your Fantasy Career Moves

Like so many women we work with – she wasn’t in a place where she could make an immediate, radical shift (the resignation-with-immediate-effect fantasy!)

She realised she needed to take some short term action (career first aid) AND map out a long-term career plan. Combined these would supercharge her career, giving her more of what she wanted from work. 

First up, we worked on getting clear about her long-term career plan. On average we’re living longer and as a result we’re working longer. This means that head-in-the-sand until early retirement is no longer a career plan option!

Career Strategy 2 – Use Your IKIGAI 

Here at Catalyst Collective we love the Ikigai framework for thinking about our long-term career. Ikigai is Japanese and roughly translates as ‘your reason for being’.  


 Here’s how you use it: 

First up get clear on what gives you a sense of joyful purpose. These are the things that connect to a bigger purpose in your life / your organisation / the world AND give you a deep sense of joy.

Then get clear on what you are really good at. There’s no space here for humility – give yourself permission to speak out what you excel at. When we do the stuff we’re really good at, we’re more likely to achieve a flow state. This makes us both happy and super productive, so we ‘excel’ without always having to spend immense effort. 

Next think about the intersection of the things that give you joyful purpose, that you’re really good at AND the world / your company / possible clients need, and are willing to pay for

The stuff in this intersection is your, personal, unique Ikigai.

Amazing right? The way you express that intersection will change over time, but the intersection acts as a ‘North Star’ for shaping your career path.

My (Fi writing here) intersection has always been around resourcing people to be their best. Early in my career that showed up by leading big operational teams, then as a HR Director, then as a coach and facilitator, and now co-founding and leading a business resourcing women to thrive and create a more inclusive world. Looking back, I can see that I’ve been gradually shifting into my own Ikigai intersection where my strengths, gifts and passion meet what the world wants and will pay for. My unique place of joyful purpose. 

So what happens when you work out your Ikigai, but right now you can’t make a radical shift? This is where wise short-term action comes in.  

Career Strategy 3 – Job Crafting 

We love the concept of ‘job crafting’. The creators of the job crafting concept (Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton) discovered that our jobs are made up of two raw materials -tasks and relationships- from which we craft our sense of job meaning. And it’s the meaning that you give to your work that creates the positive (and negative) emotions. 

In a nutshell, job crafting is making small, impactful changes to the tasks, relationships and way you see your role. It’s driven by YOU and it leads to an increased sense of purpose, happiness, well-being and connection. 

To start with, get clear on what you’d like to change about your job – this could be:  

·      More stretch and growth

·      Doing less so you have more headspace and mental bandwidth 

·      Deliberately designing in more flow and joy

·      Experiencing a stronger connection to your purpose 

And in case you are wondering -yes it’s possible to have more of these things in your job right now

Do you have bits of your job that you hate and bits that you love? Do you have bits that take up way too much time and eat up all the space doing the stuff that you love? Task Crafting is the idea that your job is made up of ‘task building block’ and that we can review and change the tasks that make up our jobs. It’s about removing or spending less time on the stuff that you don’t want in your job and adding in and spending more time on the stuff you do want. Sure, you’ll have some constraints on what you need to do – but in our experience you’ve probably got more scope and wriggle room than you think. 

Amy Wrzesniewski says our workplace relationships make up our “greatest joys and greatest frustrations” at work! Relational Crafting is the people equivalent of task crafting. It’s about mapping out the relationships you have at work and tuning into which ones bring you joy and which ones don’t. Then making shifts to add in and dial up those connections that bring you joy and move back from the ones that don’t. 

The final piece of job crafting is Cognitive Crafting– if you can’t change your job – change the way you think about your job! This involves reframing how you think about your job. This might be building a stronger connection to purpose or refocusing on what the job offers you. 

So, over to you:

·      Do you have a fantasy career move? What’s it telling you about what you want from your career? How can you act on this awareness? 

·      How’s your IKIGAI balance? What feels good? What needs attention? What’s a simple first step that you can take to move into your own IKIGAI intersection?  (And this can be as simple as arranging a coffee with someone. When we start conversations, AMAZING things happen!)

·      What are the ways you can job craft what you currently do to create more joy, happiness and connection? 


Want to go deeper?

Feeling directionless? Stuck in a work rut? Worried that you’re not making the most of your career?' Join us for ‘How To Create a Career Plan That Gives You the Life You Want’ where we’ll be digging deeper into each of these practices and creating amazing career clarity.