Feeling Stuck at Work After Treatment? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track
If you had to take a break from work to go to treatment, you might feel like you’re behind or set back from reaching your career goals. It doesn’t matter if you attended a residential program lasting a few months or participated in an outpatient treatment program; both take time, dedication and energy.
With your energy focused on recovery, you may not have had as much time to focus on your career – and that can be difficult.
Career Recovery Tips
In my work with individuals in recovery seeking a new job or career path, many often discuss feeling stuck. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, especially if your career is important to you, and for many people, it can introduce a slump that affects your outlook on both recovery and work.
While it’s normal to feel this way, it’s important to remember that this season is not the end of your story. When you’re feeling stuck and are having a difficult time balancing both work and recovery, remember these 5 things:
- Tip #1: Put it in perspective.
It might feel like you’re years behind your colleagues or university alumni friends. Although it can be difficult not to feel like you’re set back after treatment, remember – recovery is always a worthwhile investment. Analyzing your career in your new, sober chapter takes rigorous honesty, just like recovery. How would things really have gone if you wouldn’t have gotten treatment? You may not have landed your dream job – or stuck with it – because addiction would most likely have impacted your career in some way. When doubt tells you that you’re behind or stuck, remember, you made the right decision, not just for your life, but for your career overall.
- Tip #2: Beware of comparison.
If you’re having a hard time watching your coworkers receive promotions or advance their careers, be careful not to get fixated or caught up comparing yourself to others. Always remember, your path is different –and it should be. Going to treatment was the best decision for you, and will bring with it pros and cons. While a perceived ‘con’ might be time away from work, the benefit may be a whole new outlook, set of skills and the capacity to use recovery in all parts of your life. Said best by Mark Twain, “Comparison is the death of joy.” You won’t be free to exercise your gifts or experience gratitude if your mind is fixated on comparison. Be grateful for recovery and the journey you’re on – it should be different, diverse and full of opportunities for growth.
- Tip #3: Find a mentor.
In the same way you’re prioritizing your recovery and are likely working with a support person, recovery coach or sponsor, do the same in your professional life. You’re probably not as behind as you feel, and a mentor can help you find the right networks, classes or even special projects within your workplace to help you find new opportunities to get you on the path to advancement. As you work with a recovery coach or sponsor on your recovery, working with a professional mentor is a similar way to exercise humility, to learn, and to be open and honest. Asking for help in both recovery and the workplace will help you maintain perspective, balance – and drive – in the early days of recovery.
- Tip #4: Create a list and set goals.
Live one day at a time, but do it with intention. Sit down with your sponsor or mentor and make a list of what you can do to start working toward your overall career goals. If you’re not in a forever job, start making a plan of how you can slowly and wisely move into a work environment that better supports your recovery and mental health. Remember: career growth is not the flip of a switch – it takes time, and that’s okay. Find ways to keep you moving forward, even if it’s small steps, day-by-day. This will help keep you focused and grounded, while teaching you patience as you move steadily forward in the right direction.
- Tip #5: Use it for growth.
Any opportunity you have to grow will only help you in the long-run. Promotions or advancements are not inevitable, and any success you find in your career must be backed up by solid character and a healthy recovery. Beyond character building, there is always more to learn. Ask your boss for a special project and talk to them about what you can do to be more challenged in your daily work.
Building Character and Work Ethic
Above all else, be grateful that recovery intervened – not just in your life, but in your career. Minor setbacks will pale in comparison to the damage that could have been done by addiction ravaging your life for one more day.
Your career will recover, just like you. Focus on doing your best today, and your career will fall into place as you build character and work ethic along the way.
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