< back to articles listings

7 Ways to Get Your Career Unstuck

by Jay Reeves |

Do you sometimes feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day?

Your alarm clock rings at the same time every morning. You get up and go to work. You endure another meeting. You interview another client. You trudge to another calendar call.

At day’s end you go home and crawl in bed. Before you know it, the alarm clock rings and it starts all over again. Every day is the same as it ever was.

You’re stuck on repeat, just like Murray’s snowbound weatherman Phil.

This is no way to live – much less practice law. You owe it to yourself, your family and your clients to get unstuck. But how?

Here are seven suggestions:

1. Shake Things Up

Routines are important. They keep us grounded and disciplined. But if we become mere creatures of habit we risk losing our individuality and creative edge.

Reboot your life by changing your routine. Wake up an hour earlier each morning – but don’t use the extra time to squeeze in more work. Sit quietly instead. Watch the sun rise. Start a journal. Write two pages daily.

“Inner change naturally creates outer change,” writes Sura in the Huffington Post. “Do you take the same route to work every day? Do you eat at the same restaurants and visit the same places? Go to new venues. Change your furniture around. Add something new to your desk. Change the way you show up and move through life.”

One caveat: if you do start rising earlier, be sure and hit the sack earlier so you will get seven to eight hours of snooze-time. Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. It is hard to make progress in a groggy haze.

2. Learn a New Sport

That advice comes from one of my favorite columnists: John Nieman, of the Triangle’s “Community Sports News.” Nieman, who happens to be an attorney, manages to extract little life lessons from random musings on NASCAR and ACC basketball.

In the January 2015 issue he recommended recharging your batteries by exploring a new sport – say, curling:

“[P]ick something with which you are largely, if not completely, unfamiliar,” he writes. “Cricket, rugby, lacrosse, equestrian, motorsports, polo and polocrosse are just a few. Learn the rules. Watch some competitions either in person or on television. Make sure at least one of them is more popular in a foreign country.”

The idea is to step outside your recreational comfort zone. It might spark movement in other areas of your life as well.

3. Move and Breathe

Work can be suffocating. Handling other people’s problems takes a toll. Sitting in a chair all day can be lethal – literally.

Put your body in motion. Walk or bike to work if you usually drive. Do yoga or simple stretching exercises at lunch. Take a dance class after hours. Recapture the pure, unalloyed joy of play.

4. Flex Your Mental Muscles

Take a CLE class that is far outside your practice area. If you’re a bankruptcy specialist, learn about child custody agreements. It you’re a trial attorney, learn how to draft a will.

Who knows? You might unearth skills and interests that have been long buried. At the very least, you will be a more versatile conversationalist at your local bar meeting. Which leads to ….

5. Personally Meet One New Lawyer Every Week

It can be a brand new member of the bar. Or it can be the oldest lawyer in town. Just choose one colleague you don’t know and go out and meet them.

Shake hands. Say you simply want to introduce yourself and say hello. If you look them in the eye – and have no agenda other than to greet them sincerely – good things are bound to happen.

6. Accept Where You Are

One way to stay stuck is by wanting to be somewhere else – anyplace else – and not knowing how to get there.

Free yourself by accepting the present. You are where you are. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Future plans and goals are fine. But if they take you out of the present moment – which, after all, is the only moment you ever have – they can be paralyzing.

7. Lighten Up

Feeling stuck in your career? Don’t fight it. Own your stuckness. It means you’re ready for change. You’re poised for exciting new things.

And remember, Phil the Groundhog Day weatherman did not remain frozen. At the film’s conclusion he woke to a bright new morning and found he had rediscovered his best self.

In the process, he also rediscovered love.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup