How to Overcome Career Stagnation: Step Into Your Power And Take the Lead

Gloria Feldt
5 min readJun 17, 2024


Issue 262 — June 16, 2024

There’s a common struggle that many women face: the feeling of being stuck in their careers, and that despite putting in their best efforts, they’re running in place.

It’s a frustrating and disheartening experience, one that can leave any woman questioning her ability and worth.

I once held the same position for 18 years, and there were several times when I found myself feeling stale, bored, and not bringing my full energy for the job even though I was as committed as ever to the mission.

If you’ve ever felt that way, here’s the truth: you’re not alone, and even more importantly, it’s never about your ability or worth.

Or more likely, it’s about genuinely getting in touch with your ability and worth. Aha! How do we do that?

That’s what we are probing here. Many ambitious professionals struggle with this challenge every day. It’s not limited to women of course. This common inertia often stems from outgrowing one’s current role, being ready for new challenges, but not knowing how to search for them or create them.

Feelings of job malaise can also occur when roles and responsibilities no longer align with one’s deepest values. This often morphs into a mantra of, “What am I doing wrong?”

Nurturing Yourself, Not Just Others

Women know how to nurture; it’s part of our socialization. However, we often forget to nurture ourselves. This is why overlooking the objective reality of a current career conundrum — ready for more, ready for a change — and instead, turning on yourself, wondering if maybe you’re not enough is so dangerous.

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An external, easily diagnosed set of career hurdles becomes an unfortunate reason for second-guessing, comparison to others, and pulling back and shrinking when what needs to be done is to step up and allow for expansion.

Take back the power, and Take the Lead.

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Getting Back On Track With Practical Steps

Frustration sets in when running toward a dream but getting nowhere seems to be the daily agenda, and it can be soul crushing when each day feels like a repeat of the day before.

Self-nurturing, with all the focus and care that would be given to another, is the first step to regaining confidence, and getting a career back on track or creating the next path of opportunity.

When career stagnation sets in, there are some practical action steps to take:

  1. List Your Accomplishments: Make a list of the accomplishments you’re most proud of.
  2. Compile Testimonials: Highlight the impact of your work on others.
  3. Seek Feedback: Contact your biggest supporters and ask them to tell you what they see as your biggest strengths, skills, and talents.
  4. Take Care of Your Body: Keep your body moving, properly hydrated, and eat wholesome foods. A stressed, overworked body can’t help you!
  5. Calm Your Mind: Spend daily time calming your mind through rituals and practices.
  6. Draft a Dream Job Description for your current job: Yes, start with where you are. Without self-judgment or asking “how” to make it happen (we’ll get to that later).

Acknowledging struggles is the first step towards overcoming them, and that it’s your responsibility to define your next moves. The second step is to know you are not alone.

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Lean into the discomfort and embrace the vulnerability that comes with confronting limitations. This act will often ignite innate power, and a new level of leadership begins to emerge, paving the way for growth, transformation, and an opportunity for others to naturally gravitate toward this strength and quiet but powerful confidence.

For me, I did two things that refreshed my energy.

First I took stock of how the requirements and (read that the opportunities) of the job itself had changed. That enabled me to identify what I needed to learn and then figure out how to learn it. My big “aha” was realizing I could make it a new job in a sense, by recalibrating my own skills and learning additional ones that would move the organization ahead of the curve as well as giving me new and energizing intellectual challenges.

Second, I made a cogent proposal a) to get those learning opportunities which I had researched; b) since I was already the CEO, there was no higher level position to which I could aspire, but I could tweak my job description to reflect the additional knowledge and skills I would be bringing; and c) to have a forthright conversation about how my new skills added value to the organization, which in turn enabled me to seek an upgraded title and eventually an adjustment in compensation. That last wasn’t my top priority at the time. If it’s one of yours, you’ll need to research comparables so you can make a well-supported ask.

Self-nurturing and a little bit of patience will go a long way towards getting you closer to your dream job, whether it’s recasting your current position or moving on to a different one.

Going through this process enables you to clarify the path that best suits you at that moment. Trust me, there will be other such moments, but you’ll already know how to address the next one.

Join us at the Power Up Concert and Conference this August so you can get closer to your dreams!

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker, a global expert in women’s leadership development and DEI for individuals and companies that want to build gender balance. She is a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Honored as Forbes 50 Over 50, and Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at and Find her @GloriaFeldt on all social media.



Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a nonprofit women’s leadership organization.