The Cure for the Career Plateau

I have a problem. Maybe this happens to you too, which is why I’m sharing.

Every time I achieve a major goal, it’s as if I have walked into thick fog. The future becomes unclear. I don’t know what’s next and feel truly lost.

Then, the internal dialogue starts. “You’ve done great. Look around, just look at your accomplishments…look at your resume.” Often, someone else will say the same thing and reinforce it. It’s a vicious cycle of ego.

(If you don’t talk to yourself, this might seem crazy…if you do talk to yourself, you might be the one laughing right now.)

The last time this happened, this feeling of accomplishment and stasis, I solved it by taking down everything in my office. Every plaque, every trophy, every single thing…70-80 pounds of reminders of goals achieved and unceremoniously tossed it in the recycle bin.

This worked for nearly a year.

Then this week, sitting at a small office table, across from two professors of ergonomics and safety, I almost fell out of my chair.

One of the professors, in less than three minutes, thoroughly convinced me that ergonomics was the cure for the undervalued business of safety. I wanted to run out of the room and go to an ergonomics class. The other, having just finished his third PhD, spoke on the future of education, universities, and how much his graduate EHS students were changing the world around them.

It was like I’d showed up with my tee ball bat to major league baseball game.

In that moment, they’d flashed a light and shown me a new peak. They forced me to look around, see the plateau where I stood, and gave me a vision for the future.

Plateau gone. Now to grab some climbing gear…

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