I have outgrown my current role with no chance of promotion in the company. However, I have learnt that, following the high-profile resignations in the aftermath of the UK’s Brexit vote, quitting a job is really the privilege of the lucky few who do not have to worry about how the bills will be paid next month. Stuck waiting for a new job or opportunity in a slow economy is the definition of purgatory. How can I stay motivated and sharp in my current role until things change? JB, Abu Dhabi
You are right that only the privileged few are able to just get up one day and quit. They then either wait to land their dream job or have the tenacity to create opportunities for themselves. These folks either have a backup option or are willing to take a risk to be their own boss.
Unfortunately, the cost of living in the UAE, which includes utility bills, rent and school fees, means many employees remain under the safety of the organisational payroll. You’d be surprised as to how many actually prefer this cushion as it still allows them to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. That being said, there are inspirational stories of individuals walking out of their well-paying jobs to form groundbreaking start-ups. The example of two McKinsey employees leaving to start the taxi service Careem springs to mind. Yet for each risk-taker there are five unadventurous souls feeling stuck in the rut and not able to get out.
For you, me and other mere mortals, we either need to make do with what we have (which isn’t so bad, let’s be honest) or be curious to look at what else is out there. We all know the economy is tough and we are in a global environment plagued with cuts and constraints, which makes the thought of starting something new even less appealing. Being stuck in the corporate life with no chance to grow can be equally as stressful for those who aspire to reach the top. It is times such as this that you need to be creative and find new and novel solutions to do your job, even within the constraints of a job that is no longer meeting your aspirations.
If you still feel you have outgrown your role but don’t have a better option, the best thing to do is to stay where you are, carefully analyse your options and use your spare time in the evenings or on weekends to look for more exciting opportunities. Be sure to spend some time planning out your career goals, big and small, as well as your personal development opportunities.
Have informal chats with recruiters, search potential employers online and try to get a better idea of what may be around at this time and in the near future. If nothing else, it can help to put things into perspective – the grass is not always greener.
Another option is to not think of a new job as the only solution to your problems. Instead ask yourself what more you can learn in your current role or what you can improve about yourself professionally. If you can’t be promoted, you can at least develop and promote your own learning until internal and external opportunities emerge. Identify some role models, those with the experiences and qualifications you aspire to: this will help you consider what development you need. You can enrol for personal and professional development courses in the meantime to improve your existing skill set, which may give you an upper hand in the future.
Similarly, if you feel you have more time, this could be a period in your life where you could do something you have always wanted to do, such as play more sport, spend more time with your family or learn a new language. Along with being proactive, be patient and maybe reframe the situation as one that is giving you more time to do some of the other things you love. We get so used to being busy and when we are not we feel useless. This is simply not true. We could put our “use” elsewhere.
Some risk-takers walk out of mundane jobs to be their own bosses. If this isn’t something you can do, then find creative ways of making your role more interesting, or develop yourself professionally or personally by taking new courses or nurturing a hobby. Then when an opportunity does arise, you should have the upper hand among the competition.
Alex Davda is business psychologist and client director at Ashridge Executive Education, Hult International Business School, and is based in the Middle East. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on any work issues