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Feeling stuck? Don’t run from it

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At some point in their careers, most people say to themselves, “I don’t know what’s wrong … I just don’t feel engaged.”

It’s completely normal, and it’s a sign of being “stuck,” says Timothy Butler, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the new book, Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths.

Being stuck means nothing seems to help. It’s different than having a bad day, or even a bad month or two. Tricks that may have worked in the past, like taking brisk walks, getting more sleep or spending time with a close friend, don’t make the feeling go away. You still have the symptoms of being stuck: unrest, anxiety, boredom.

Butler’s advice: Rather than attempt to run away from the feeling, listen to your frustrations so you can break the cycle that keeps you from moving ahead. Imagine what would make your work life more fulfilling, then make a plan to achieve it.

“Often, negotiating an impasse does not mean changing a job or what would be seen as a dramatic change,” he says. “The outcome may be as undramatic as a conversation with your boss about something you’d really like to be doing more or something you’d like to be doing less.”

Tools to help you get unstuck: Career guides like What Color Is Your Parachute? or Butler’s online career assessment tool www.careerleader.com ($95 for a 60-day subscription).

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