3 Ways to Overcome a Career Slump

Everyone hits a career plateau -- stay too long and you face burnout and decreased creativity and productivity.

No matter how successful you are, at some point, you'll hit a career plateau — the point at which the chance of progressing at work diminishes and personal satisfaction plummets. In some cases, this means fewer opportunities for a promotion. Or maybe you're just not feeling as challenged as you once were. Whatever the cause, career plateaus frustrate many budding insurance professionals, and rightfully so.
While career plateaus are a difficult place to find yourself, they're more common than you might think. Only 48% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, according to the latest numbers from The Conference Board. Stay perched on that plateau too long and you face burnout and decreased creativity and productivity. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — if you're checked out and not engaged, you might not deserve that next promotion after all.
If you're stuck on a plateau, first use the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate how you got where you are — and determine where you want to end up. What career aspects will be most important to you in the next 10 years? Salary? Location? Title? Work/life balance? Once you have a clear path forward, push past the plateau and climb. Here are three steps to take next:
1. Pitch a new position. Often, the best way to get a promotion is to simply ask for it. Make sure you share your goals and ambitions with your supervisor so that you are considered when an opportunity arises. If you think you're qualified for an open position, have a frank conversation about what you can do to land that promotion.
But there are other ways to expand your role and job satisfaction without a direct promotion. Lateral moves to another department or specialty can reignite your interest in the job while significantly broadening your skills and value to your organization. Never worked in claims? Talk to key decision makers about making a transition to a new role.
2. Augment your skill set. Gaining more skills and industry know-how is good, but earning formal designations that solidify that knowledge is even better. Consider this: 93% of insurance pros who earned the AINS designation said they saw an increase in job opportunities.
Still not convinced? More than 72% of people who have completed AINS received a promotion within two years of earning the designation. Expanding your professional knowledge gives you new skills to apply on the job, and it also shows you're eager to take on more responsibility and advance your career.
3. Check in with your mentor. If you found success early in your career, chances are that you did so with the help and guidance of a mentor. If you're now feeling stuck or stalled, it's time to check back in with him or her; chances are that your mentor experienced — and overcame — similar hiccups. Tap into that knowledge to gain some insight on how to got your ambitions started again.
Mentors might also have some useful advice on where to focus your development efforts. They can pass on crucial institutional knowledge that will increase your value to your employer. Inc.com recently polled a dozen young entrepreneurs on the go-to questions they ask when they get a chance to sit down with their mentors. One that especially resonates if you're stuck on a career plateau: “What would you do if you were me?”
Have you successfully overcome a career plateau? Share your story in the comments section below.

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