Breaking Free from a Job Trap

I feel totally boxed-in, trapped and discouraged in my job.  I desperately want to move on to something better but I just can’t see a way out.

That’s how Mildred described her situation in our coaching session.  “In working for this boss,” she said, “I’m going nowhere. He has made it perfectly clear that he will not support either my efforts for promotion or a lateral move out of his department.” Mildred earnestly wanted to feel good about her work and to benefit from doing good work, but since neither seemed possible, she felt trapped, abused, and depressed.

What would you do if you found yourself trapped by circumstances in your life or work?  One thing you could do would be to ask yourself if you are trapped by circumstances or your point of view. In most cases people are not actually trapped but unaware of their options or they are unwilling to take action on those that are available.  When you’re feeling trapped, as opposed to actually being trapped, you may need to change your mental outlook before you can move on.

Mildred had been unwilling to choose her available options and hadn’t considered future possibilities.   She felt hopeless because she had been reluctant to quit her job or to take assertive action against an abusive boss.  Retirement seemed her only avenue of hope and that was still a few years away.  Mildred, with assistance from of her coach, saw an exciting new possibility.  She decided to become a social worker to help youth overcome and move out of poverty.

Inspired by her new vision Mildred became optimistic about her future and developed a plan that she could begin immediately.  She started by working on a master’s degree in social work by taking evening courses at a nearby adult-friendly university.  Her goal was to complete the course work by the time she retired and then devote full-time to completing a supervised internship for the credentialing necessary to launch her new career.  Energized by her new vision, she no longer comes to work feeling depressed but full of vitality.  She found work to be more fulfilling by offering encouragement to others feeling trapped.  Her vision-based energy became contagious.

Creating an energizing vision can be difficult anytime especially when you’re feeling trapped and hopeless. For that reason you may need to seek support from a wise mentor, one who is a good listener and able to help you clarify your aspirations and envision new possibilities.  If such an individual is not to be found you might consider working with an experienced life/executive coach or a licensed career counselor who can help you transcend feelings of entrapment and create an exciting vision for your future. The energizing power in vision can replace feelings of hopelessness with excitement for a new view of where you are going.

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