Breaking Out the Career Funk
I hear a lot of people in the professional world say, “I’m in a career funk.”
When you ask them why, they have no answer. What was once excitement is now apathy and a new challenge is now mundane. This is the “career funk”
This not-at-all bad. In fact, we want the funk! The funk tells you something isn’t right and you need a change. Be aware of it and embrace it!
The funk is an “off” feeling that indicates that a shift is ready. So what should you do? Ask yourself a few questions like are you growing? Are you respected? Are you doing your best work? We cover these topics in the UWB Career/Financial section.
- Re-Define your roles in life. For ambitious, career-minded individuals, attachment to our success often takes priority over our personal lives. Reaching the pinnacle of our professional dreams can leave us doubting our next steps, even seeding existential dread and ambiguity. Diversifying your relationship to work and your hobbies can help, so think about how else you’d like to be “addressed” on and off the clock!
We only have so much finite emotional energy and we play several roles throughout life, from employee to hobbyist. Ask yourself: Are you allocating the majority of your emotional energy to your career? If yes, would you like to start dedicating more energy to other priorities or investments? We got a lot out of this piece by Mark Manson on identity diversification; it’s a great place to start!
- Give yourself a new identity. Former accountant? Perhaps now you can think of yourself as a sous-chef! Reinventing yourself with a new title can diversify the emotional energy spent toward a career. This does not mean to quit your job, but to instead allow you to look forward to different parts of your identity.
- Create a new structure. We are notoriously good at adapting and conforming. However, we often fear change and get into a steady, monotonous structure. That actually can do more harm than good. Don’t fear change. Growth and creativity occur best in environments or tasks characterized by change. Creating a new work structure or having a challenge outside of work can provide the necessary spark. Learn about a new subject matter. Pick up a musical interest to balance your brain. Find a new learning curve to address to take your mind off the one you’ve mastered.
- Re-examine your values. Perhaps, the funk is telling you to find more meaning in life or that as a person you are changing. You are no longer the person you were four or five years ago. Have your values changed between my life inside and outside of the office? Maybe, just maybe, something deep down is itching at you to go do something more impactful. We have a lot to worry about as a society including climate change, income divides, political dysfunction, and more. Journal out what your mind is telling you and start to dip your toe into other waters.
Most of us won’t feel motivated 100% of the time. By intently examining ourselves and our environments, we can be better attuned to our most important needs.
Regardless if needed in our internal or external world, some change is needed to remove the stagnation and career funk we feel. Personally, my favorite approach has been one touted by the funky singer, James Brown: “The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.”