Stuck In A Rut? Try Doing A Career Self-Intervention

When you think of being stuck in a rut the first thing that comes to mind is probably not the idea of doing an intervention. An intervention is defined by Landmark Recovery as,

“The act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning).”

Let’s break that down. This is going to get a little tedious but bear with me. You will see why I am doing this when we begin to relate it back to career:

“The act of interfering with the outcome or course…” – this implies taking action in a way that interrupts a defined, expected, or possible end result or pathway

It goes on to say:

“…especially of a condition…” – this part is speaking specifically to the circumstances affecting the way in which people live or work, especially with regard to their safety or well-being.


“…or process…” – which in this context means to complete a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Finally, the last part in brackets which in my opinion may be the most important part:

“…(as to prevent harm or improve functioning).” – this is fairly obvious; however, for the sake of being thorough (and tedious) I’ll put it in other terms. Essentially this means that an intervention exists to stop us from hurting ourselves and make us better.

Okay, do you understand the definition of an intervention in detail now? If not, take your time and read that again.  It’s extremely important for you to understand the above in order to see how we are going to apply this to a career.

But, before we do that, we need to first understand what is a self-intervention.

What Is A Self-Intervention

Kathy Sharpe-Ross, a contributor for the Huffington Post, in her article Reinvention: The Ultimate Self-Interventionstates that an intervention is, “An intervention is a cry for reinvention. And a reinvention requires a significant self-intervention!” And it can be implied that you will do this intervention on yourself. Not necessarily by yourself, but you will choose to do and/or setup your own intervention.

Essentially, a self-intervention is taking stock of the aspects of your life that are negative, stuck, or unhelpful. A self-intervention is about removing those aspects of yourself and replacing them with something that will help you to become a more realized, contributing, and fulfilled human being.

What Is A Career Self-Intervention?

Now you know two key concepts. You know what is an intervention and you know what is a self-intervention. When we combine these two concepts with the a third concept of career you get what I dub a Career Self-Intervention

Let’s walk through those same definitions but applying them to career. First let’s look at the definition of an intervention as it applies to career before we look at the definition of a self-intervention as it relates to career.

Okay, remember the first definition? Here it is again as a reminder:

“The act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning).”

If we are to change this to a career focus it might read something like this:

“The act of interfering with the outcome or course of your career especially to prevent harm or improve functioning.”

Let’s break that down into it’s components. Again, this is going to get a little tedious but you will appreciate it and ideally feel motivated by it.

“The act of interfering with the outcome or course of your career…” – this implies taking action on your career in a way that interrupts a defined, expected, or possible end result or pathway. But why would this be important? Who cares? The next part gives us the big clue to the answers to these questions.

It says:

“…especially to prevent harm or improve functioning.” – perhaps this seems a little dramatic or even idealistic. However, where this becomes extremely relevant is when you review the Gallup Study mentioned in Marcus Buckingham’s book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The referenced study exposed that in the over 2-million people who took participated in the study, only 18% (less than 2 out of 10) individuals indicated that they did not find their jobs related to their strengths, and therefore impacted career satisfaction to a great extent.

I can also comment on this. Although anecdotal, I can say with confidence, that the most common phrase I hear from people who come in for career coaching is, “I feel stuck in a rut”. I have coached over 2000 people in a one-on-one setting.

Considering the above two pieces of evidence the second part of the definition, “…especially to prevent harm or improve functioning,” now holds a lot of credibility. I mean you get this right, if you are unhappy in your career, you know that it is damaging you, causing harm, and ultimately changing who you can be or preventing you from becoming who you were meant to be.

Therefore, a Career Self-Intervention could be:

“Taking oneself through a self-directed but formal process of interfering with the outcome or course of ones career especially to create clarity, prevent harm, or improve functioning”

Doesn’t that sound kind of fun? It is. I’ve done it. More than once. It’s hard work, but it’s a process of self-discovery that leads to increased self-confidence about your own decision making around your career and career choices

How Do I Conduct A Career Self-Intervention

First, remember that a career self-intervention may not necessarily be done all by yourself. No, what this implies is that you are imposing the intervention upon yourself in a self-directed way but that you can invite whatever resources (people, professionals, reading, videos, training, etc.) that you wish to.

Second, the steps to a career self-intervention may not be totally clear as it is a new concept but the below are adapted steps from Landmark Recovery about how a traditional intervention is conducted for addicts. As noted, these are adapted and I think they work well for a career self-intervention.

  1. Find a professional or expert in career interventions

This could be a career coach, like myself, or career counsellor. Be sure to choose the path that works best for you. Some of the old, traditional models that use assessments aren’t producing the very best results. My approach is a holistic one where we consider your values, the tasks in the job itself, your purpose, and your willingness. This has produced much better results with my clients in the long run

  1. Form your intervention group

As already mentioned, a career self-intervention may not be by yourself. You can form a community of support amongst friends, family, and professionals. This can be really helpful in gathering their thoughts and opinions about your own behaviour, patterns, and what you say and do in regards to your career right now (i.e. do they notice that you complain a lot, or focus on things out of your control, or that you are always late on Monday’s, etc.)

  1. Learn about yourself and keep digging deep

Discovering a new career path and getting out of the rut can require a deep dive on your thoughts, beliefs, likes and dislikes. Do not feel discouraged. It may take a bit of digging and some practice.

  1. Choose the time, place and emotional space you will do the work on your career self-intervention

For example, do you want to do this over a weekend in a self-imposed retreat or would you prefer to do this with the guidance of a career coach over a number of weeks or months. Choose times where you can focus, uninterrupted, to do this kind of work.

  1. Be optimistic and realistic

Remember that optimism and hope will serve you well during this process. You have to believe that you can find fulfillment in your career and that things can change. And, at the same time, remain realistic. If you are 50 years old and have never taken a science class, it is unlikely that you will be an astronaut (although, even this is beginning to change… so remain open to possibility!)

When should you apply a Career Self-Intervention

If you feel stuck in a rut, miserable, or are constantly complaining about your boss or co-workers you probably need a career self-intervention. If you are constantly taking courses, not because you feel like you need them but you are constantly trying to fill in the gap of something that feels like it’s missing, that it might be time for that self-intervention. If you are collecting awards, certificates, and initials behind your name but you aren’t feeling fulfilled or satisfied then it might be time for a career self-intervention

This is something I, as a highly experienced career coach, can help guide you through if you should decide to add me to your self-intervention team.

The Bottom Line

All of us at some point should take a long hard look at our careers to determine if we are getting what we need from them.  Sometimes a career self-intervention is simply a validating tool in order to recognize that we actually have what we need and maybe with a shift in perception or attitude we will feel better about our career. And yet, sometimes this process will about getting out of the rut we have ground into our pathway of life and gotten stuck.

Christopher is the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and the Healthy Transformations Weight Loss & Inflammation Reduction Program. Change my Life Coaching is a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 15+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at

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