Top 3 things to do when you’re feeling trapped at work

Trapped at work

This is a really difficult place in which to find yourself – feeling trapped at work. You know that you are not happy with your current work situation. But you don’t know for sure what you want to do.

You could find a similar job elsewhere. You could do the same role in a different industry. Or you could try something altogether different.

Maybe take a course, get qualified in something. You could start your own business. You could freelance.

Perhaps you do have an inkling about what you want to do, but you’re really, really scared to even try.

The options are of course, endless. But what is the RIGHT thing to do? How do you know?

One day you’re inspired to be an entrepreneur, the next you crave the stability of being part of a team.

Lack of confidence in your decisions, and the paralysis of having many options may mean that you do absolutely nothing other than cry, daydream and ruminate over potential paths to take.

Here are some things you can try to help you get out of this state of feeling trapped at work.

1. Take Action

It is quite simple advice, and obvious, but it can be so hard to actually do. But you have to fight the paralysis.

I repeat this endlessly to my coaching clients, your end goal (be it find a new job, start a business, start a new course, anything in fact) will only be achieved by you taking action and moving forward small step by small step. That’s it. That’s how anyone out there achieves anything.

Make a start

You do something, then you do another thing, then you do another thing. Day after day. And that very first small thing you do can seem so inconsequential and pointless. However….it’s so important. It’s the start.

Getting down all of your thoughts and ideas and options on a piece of paper or spreadsheet. Finally reading that book your friend recommended that helped her so much. Completing that exercise that may help you focus on what you really want. Sending a message to that person doing a job you think you might like but are not at all sure of.

Doing this one first thing isn’t going to provide you with a whole new life next week, but it is going to be the start of your new habit, taking small, regular steps towards your goal. And believe me, feeling as though you are actually DOING something rather than endlessly THINKING is a great place to be.

2. Broaden your scope

What do I mean by this? I mean….open yourself up to new thoughts, ideas and opportunities. Chances are, if you’ve been working in job for a number of years (I did my previous job for 10 years before quitting), you have a fairly narrow view of what you could do next.

At one point I think I honestly believed I could only move onto another version of the role I had at that time. I was an International Sales Manager – therefore I’d have to find another International Sales Manager role out there somewhere.

Even though I wasn’t enjoying the work and it didn’t seem to be a good fit for me, it was as though I was programmed to believe I’d started on that track and could only continue.

I think a lot of people feel like this. It was so hard to imagine doing anything else. What did I know about anything else? I felt that my experience was limited. I’d just have to find the same role in a company that felt like a better fit for me, and get on with it.


Well, of course, this is not the case. There are so, so many different options out there for you, whatever your experience or qualifications. But you need to develop an awareness of this.

I found that reading, be it newsletters, blogs or books on career change or interviews with people who love their jobs, really helped me to open up to the idea of doing something DIFFERENT. Taking my skills and experience and applying them elsewhere, for a different type of company and having a different role.

Only through reading about other people who had done just that, did the idea become ‘normal’, and I realised that this is perfectly possible for someone like me.

The more you can surround yourself with people who have done what you dream of doing, the more you feel as though you can do it too.

Surrounding yourself in this way can mean chatting to people in person or on the phone, or emailing, but I also found that reading about them or listening to a podcast was really effective.

It changed my way of thinking, my mindset. I realised that so many other people out there have felt exactly the same way as me, and they had managed to move on. Discovering this was such a comfort, and is inspiring and motivating.

3. Start thinking positively

It’s a biggie. Maybe the biggest, most important point. I really think that a positive mindset is the key to doing anything. How can it not be?

If you view things positively and feel positive, I think you are so much more likely to get out there and take action. So much less likely to hide away and let things stay as they are.

And I think it’s something you can work on and develop. If you can cultivate a sense of positivity, you can equip yourself with a sort of protective shield.

You can become practised in the art of seeing the best of a situation, or not letting yourself get dragged down by other people, your own negative thoughts, something going wrong.

It becomes a habit

It really does take practice, and I have to remind myself every day. But I think it gets easier, it’s a habit like anything else – maybe you start eating a healthy breakfast every day, or meditating for 5 minutes every evening, and it sticks.

Thinking positively – choosing to crush a negative thought with a positive one – is also a habit you can work on which gets easier with time.


One way in which to get started is to spend a few minutes every morning or evening, writing down 3 (or 5, or 10, or 20!) things that you are happy about or grateful for, today.

When you’re feeling bad about yourself and your situation, this is hard. But force yourself. 3 things to be happy about. Do you have a warm comfortable bed, hot running water, potential for a cup of tea any time you like? There we go. Remind yourself of this.

I still do this. I find that the worse I’m feeling, the more things I need to find to be grateful about. I’ll set myself a target of 20. And this can be really small things.

I walked in the sun today. I had a delicious breakfast. A random old lady smiled at me in the street. Whatever. You’re training yourself to think more positively, even just starting with 5-10 minutes a day.

Take Action!

Why not try incorporate some of these ideas, bit by bit, and see if they help when you’re feeling trapped at work? Take action, however small. Find something to read, listen to, or someone to talk to, to broaden your view of what is out there for you. Start to think positively. I developed all of the above over a period of time, and they really worked for me and continue to help me in moving forward when I’m feeling stuck or unsure about something. Good luck!

Please share with someone you think might benefit from reading this.

If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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