Each person goes through a complete motivational cycle 2-3 times during his professional life. It includes different stages: from great fullness to complete devastation and back to desires and energy. So occasionally finding yourself in a state of professional crisis is absolutely normal and even correct. And if you are in a crisis now, you should not think that something is wrong with you: it happens to everyone, just not everyone is ready to share such things. Let’s talk about the four stages of human life in a working career.
However, the fact that crises are normal does not mean that nothing needs to be done to make living through this difficult life stage easier. “Impossible to cure” does not mean that you cannot get help. In this article, I will not tell you about how to avoid a professional crisis (this, alas, is almost impossible), but I will share with you recommendations on how to mitigate its devastating consequences and, in general, act proactively even in the phase when everything is going well and it seems like it always will be.
Take a piece of paper and divide it into four parts. In the upper left corner, there will be the “I want and I can” section – this is the first, most pleasant part of the motivational cycle. At the upper right corner, there will be a stage “I don’t want, but I can”. In the lower right corner, the next level is “I don’t want and I can’t” – the most difficult moment, the point of crisis. In the lower-left corner is the phase in which the reverse growth “I want, but I can’t” begins. During our professional life, we go through all four stages sequentially one after another, clockwise.
Stage 1: “I want and I can”
This is a wonderful time! You feel absolutely in the right place: you have received a long-awaited position or project, you like your salary and financial prospects, you are full of energy, inspired and determined to move mountains in your path.
Advice: The best thing to do at this stage is to save energy. A career is a long distance run so, slow down your speed and pressure. Look at your professional life in the most imaginative perspective and think about how long you can last at this pace? This is a good point for finding the balance of life, the golden mean between a career as a workaholic and just a happy person. Do not forget to fully relax – include in your circle of interests not only work, but also something else.
Stage 2: “I don’t want to, but I can”
You feel a little tired. Not exactly exhausted to the bottom, but the fuse is no longer the same as before (most likely, 6-7 years have passed since the beginning of the first stage). You have already met not quite the people you expected. They didn’t earn the money they expected. Faced with not quite the ease that they promised themselves. Something has not been overcome, something has not been achieved, something has been lost. You are still moving cheerfully, but already without the same passion. But you move: the flywheel, which was spun at the very beginning, is still working – and you fly forward by inertia. One bad thing: fresh fuel no longer enters your engine.
In general, there is nothing terrible in this moment of a career: after any point of ascent, there is an inevitable downward movement, no one can dance forever on the tip of a needle. It is logical that after the rise comes a decline – after all, to be filled with something new, it is necessary to free up space for this new space, to empty (no matter how hard it is in the process of devastation).
Advice: This is the right time to start looking around in search of something new: new areas, competencies, projects, inner meanings, inspiration and depth. Firstly, our brain simply needs new impressions, this turns it on to completely different speeds. And now, more than ever, you need additional energy & fresh fuel. Secondly, there may not be enough strength to go beyond the usual. Use the resources you have now to stockpile for the future! The expression “he was never satisfied with himself” takes on a new, positive color in this context: as soon as we stop updating, as soon as we get stuck at the point of satisfaction, we begin to act automatically, we take the first barely noticeable steps down.
At this stage, it is very important to notice and realize the accumulated fatigue. We often tend to slip past not-so-pleasant sensations, only finding ourselves at the very bottom. So watch with all your might: if it seems to you that for some reason it is much more difficult to move today than a few years ago, this is it, the second stage, which means it’s time to look for a new you.
Also read : 17 ways to boost your motivation
Stage 3: “I don’t want and I can’t”
This stage has another name: “cocoon”. At this moment, you feel a complete absence of any kind of strength, huge, endless fatigue and complete apathy. Sometimes, along with apathy, there is a horror that it will always be like this, that this is old age, that it is irreversible and further – only worse. You have already seen everything, you know everything and do not expect anything good. Someone else’s optimism seems ridiculous and implausible to you. You devalue all your achievements and feel that something is completely, painfully wrong with you.
Advice: The worst thing you can do right now is start interviewing for a new job. You are clearly not in your best shape, so even if you get an offer, it is unlikely that it will be attractive and adequate. And if the offer doesn’t come through, the result will be even worse: you add two plus two and decide that, of course, they won’t take you, because it’s all over with you, you are a useless person. This stage often occurs at the age of 38-40 years and coincides with a bunch of other personal crises: existential, growing up, the second half of life, etc. Which, of course, causes frenzied resonance and worsens an already difficult situation.
But even such a seemingly unpleasant state has its own meaning: this is the time for reassembly. While you are in the cocoon, something is being formed that will determine the course of the second half of your life. The process of living through this stage is incredibly unpleasant and requires special courage and support from loved ones (alas, this is a time when even very strong marriages often break up, and long-term friendships collapse).
While you are in a cocoon, you should not make any specific body movements, but you need to decide a lot in the field of the abstract. Realize the loss of a past life, past place and past aspirations. Accept it and, most importantly, mourn. It’s time for rest. Time for a break in all processes. Time to rethink personal values. And here you will have to start not at all from the professional, but from the personal. Rejecting the old is very difficult and very scary: what if there is nothing under it? But you still have to go to the depths, find your own core – and then it will become clear what wonderful new things can be strung on the essence, how much more interesting and amazing lies ahead. Yes, not immediately, I will not dissemble, but it will definitely become clear.
This difficult moment is extremely difficult to go through alone, with yourself, so this is exactly the point at which even the most stubbornly denying support people turn to a coach. When I work with such clients, we start by returning to the past: we remember what brought joy once upon a time, we pull achievements and real successes from the “blind zone”, disassemble them into parts, isolating the main value. At this stage, it is important not to find a solution (it is impossible now), but to get non-judgmental, supportive things from the past, which will become the foundation for the growth of a new self.
Stage 4: “I want, but I can’t”
You have dealt with yourself, discarded the old and survived the loss. The sensation of the cocoon has passed, you feel the movement of new forces in yourself and, as a result, new desires. This is the moment of birth of new plans and ideas, decisions to go get a second/third/fourth education, learn another profession, change your lifestyle and become better and wiser.
You feel the need to move, and in all directions at once.
Advice: Do not expect any specific changes from this stage – for this you simply do not have enough resources yet. It seems that if everything is not so bad and the patient is rather alive, then there should be a result immediately. But this is fundamentally wrong: do not push yourself & give time for this new energy within you to settle down, give time to grow into desire into opportunities. Play in your head all the possible consequences of each of the ideas (it’s good to do this while talking about someone). Evaluate costs and practicality. Get a second opinion and a third and a fourth too. Work out those “wants” that are highly rated and seem to be the most effective: study the information field, make a list of pros and cons, estimate the time spent, get to know one of the experts on the topic.
Take the first cautious steps, but do not expect too much that you will immediately hit the target. This time is not for take a new place. This is the time to think about a new location and be ready to move towards the exit in the most efficient way. And if you are patient, show wisdom and let all the necessary processes ripen, one day you will feel in yourself not only desire, but also great strength to start acting. And when all your “I want” and a lot of “I can” are with you, you will again begin to move towards the top.
Also read : Types of work orientation