When Your Career’s Sagging, Get Yourself Business Fit.

Ever had that old sagging feeling? It’s when: 

  • Nothing at work excites you.
  • Your motivation has flat-lined.
  • The signs that “you’re going nowhere” loom.
  • Your energy is drained.  

Even a Red Bull can’t jolt us out of that. 

Wake up! 

When our careers are sagging, it’s because we’ve allowed it. After all, we own them.

They’re a function of our choices—the education we pursued and the work experiences we’ve accepted. 

Each year of our careers is like a professional sports season. It’s a cycle: The draft (our hiring or retention), then camp (team alignment and goal setting), and the season (the work and its outcomes). Then it starts over again. There’s a calculated method to all of this, because, after all, it’s big business. 

Similarly, our companies make money through the contributions we make along with their other employees. When we act like the company is holding us against our wills in careers we’ve chosen and allowed to sag, something’s wrong about us. 

If that’s how you feel, it’s time to ratchet up your business fitness. 

Step up! 

Clayton Kendrick-Holmes is the sixth year, head coach for Maritime College in New York, a 2010 championship contending, football team. He’s also a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves being deployed to Afghanistan in November 2010. 

Coach Kendrick-Holmes promotes the importance of principles over personalities with his team. In place of having his players’ names on their jerseys, he has them select words like accountability, family, respect, character, and work ethic for their backs—a driving principle that motivates their play. It shows what’s important to them. 

A sagging career often lacks a driving force, that compelling reason to dig deep, test ourselves, take risks, and work hard for success. 

Ask yourself what’s causing you to feel in a career slump. Think about what you want from your career: Maybe your word is fortune, change, service, security, collaboration, quality, innovation, or connection

The word(s) we choose help us figure out what’s missing in our careers today, so we can make changes. 

Buck up. 

Knowing your personal drivers is a starting point. Now you need to look at where you are. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of work gives me the most satisfaction? Where can I find it?
  • What causes me to feel inadequate on my job? What am I ready to do about it?
  • Who are the colleagues I count on and who count on me for leverage and support? What can I do to get more connected?
  • What are the knowledge and skill gaps that I need to plug so I can grow?  

Think of yourself as the professional you are: Then ask yourself whether or not you have prepared yourself physically (knowledge and skills) and mentally (savvy and toughness) to compete for the career that you want, just like any serious athlete. 

Business is about competition like any sport. You’re a player. The more business fit you are, the more valuable you are to the team and to yourself. When you aren’t, you risk getting cut. 

The discipline of building your business fitness is like an athlete’s workout/practice regimen but without the sweat. That includes knowing how to find out what’s really going on around you and how to deal with it effectively.   

Commit. 

I write in my book, Business Fitness

“If you start out on a journey to success without a clear picture of what you are pursuing, then what you get in the end will be some kind of default result. You might like that result or not. Either way you have nothing to complain about since you had no particular direction in the first place.” 

I advocate taking charge of your work life as much as possible, by committing to your success vision, building your capabilities, and moving forward with courage. When you’re business fit, you’re ready for most everything. Time to get pumped up! 

What words best describe what drives you? How has that focus helped keep your career from sagging? Thanks for commenting.