Being stuck in a career rut is draining. It feels hopeless and leaves us devoid of motivation and positivity as well. It’s a tough yet common challenge that many of us face in our 20s and 30s. Feeling bored, confused, burnt out, and even depressed isn’t abnormal.
However, it doesn’t mean you have to keep feeling that way. You don’t have to stay stuck. Over the years, I myself have experienced a fair share of career ruts. And I’ve discovered a surprisingly effective way to find clarity and reignite your passion – journal prompts.
Putting your thoughts onto paper (or typing them out) can be a powerful tool for working through life decisions and career challenges. If you feel bogged down at work (or are suffering from burnout), try these journal prompts to help provide you with more clarity.
If money didn’t matter and I had financial freedom, how would I spend my time?
Imagine a world where money isn’t an obstacle. We’ve all dreamt about it. Winning the lottery would surely solve a lot of life’s issues. It would let us pursue the activities that we’re truly passionate about.
Take a moment to reflect on how you would fill your day if you had complete financial freedom. What would your day look like? Would you pursue a hobby, tend to your garden, or work on an unfinished artistic project?
Look for commonalities among your interests. Does your current career align with your passions? Are there careers that do?
Get creative with your answers and map out the skills, knowledge, and tools that you would need to pursue what you’re truly passionate about.
Are you making enough time for self-care?
Sometimes, it’s not just the job itself but also the lifestyle we’ve established that causes burnout. Identify approachable self-care activities you genuinely enjoy and add them to your daily routine.
Consider incorporating one mental, one physical, and one emotional self-care item. For example, try meditation for mental release, a visit to the gym (or a jog around the block) for physical well-being, and journaling (or better yet – therapy) for emotional regulation. Draw inspiration from your response to the first prompt to discover activities that genuinely resonate with you.
Are there untapped opportunities at work?
Before jumping ship, explore the possibilities within your current role. Have you ever wondered what your boss’s boss does daily? Are there projects that allow you to unleash your creativity or even lead yourself?
Open your eyes to potential shadowing or project opportunities that you’d like to try. Jot them down and bring them up in your next one-on-one with your manager. You never know what possibilities lie ahead until you ask. It might be just the motivation you need to get excited about your work again!
Who is your role model?
Who do you look up to as a career role model and why? Choose three to five individuals within your industry or company that you admire. Imagine sitting down to dinner with them and creating a list of questions you would ask.
Reflect on their strengths and what you could learn from them. If there are people you know or have a connection to on that list, reach out to them. Ask them if you could buy them a cup of coffee and pick their brain.
If they are public figures, do a little more research on their career paths. Read interviews and watch videos where they talk about their career trajectory. Pull inspiration from their experiences and use them to create inspiration for your own career.
What do you truly want with your life?
At the end of the day, you have to set aside others’ expectations. What matters is what YOU want for your life. Will a career shift make you happy? Do you feel undervalued at work? Perhaps going after a promotion so you feel more valued would help.
Dig deep into your career and life goals and prioritize what truly fulfills you and brings you happiness. You are the one living your life. No one else is. So make sure it aligns with your values and passions.
By exploring these journal prompts, you can gain clarity, reignite your passion, and discover opportunities you might not have considered (or been aware of). Embrace the journey of self-discovery and trust yourself. You have the power to create a beautiful, fulfilling, and purposeful career.
Career ruts aren’t forever. They’re only temporary. But you do have to take action and take the first step to create change for yourself. No one is going to do it for you. So challenge yourself and make it happen. You’ve got this!
Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.
Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site FanBolt.com