There is no shortage of well-intentioned advice in the world.
We created Ask the Experts to answer your biggest, most perplexing work-life dilemmas with expert advice. Some reader questions though have struck a cord — clearly many of us struggle with the same issues in the office.
“Lost in India” wrote in because he felt stuck and uninspired in his job, something a lot of people have felt at one time or another:
I am 28 years old and I’m doing well professionally, I make a good salary and I’ve been pretty successful, but I don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential.
I feel stuck in a job that doesn’t interest me. For the last three years I have felt like I am not doing anything worthwhile, and I don’t have a connection to anything I do. I want to do something that makes the world a better place but I don’t know what that is. I daydream about creating the next big thing that will change the world but I don’t know where to start.
I follow all of the new big startups, and I am particularly fascinated by peer-to-peer sharing economy but I don’t know how to make that work where I live (India). I know I’m young and early in my career, but l feel claustrophobic about all this and I have a lot of pressure to get married. I feel like I haven’t really started my life or career yet. Where do I start?
See the expert advice Leadership Coach Lolly Daskal and Psychologist Art Markman gave him here, then check out what the crowd had to say:
Step out of your comfort zone:
Volunteer to help people who aren’t as fortunate and privileged as you are.–Sian Killingsworth
I have felt this at times too. I recently started a new project called “Learn Something New Every Day.” I decided to take on the challenge to learn something new every day for at least one year. Regardless of how big or small. I keep track of articles I read and things I learn. I have learned about web development, design, business, etc. and I plan to implement new ideas into my current projects. What jives about this idea and what Art outlined is that it’s a balance of daily achievements and contribution.– Ryan Bollenbach
Step outside your comfort zone regularly. Stay there for longer periods of time. Chip away at tasks that bring you closer to your passion.– Kathy Anderson
Think about what you really want to do:
Sometimes people get stuck getting started. Make a list about what you care about. Find entry points to do consistent support of what you care about. Read deep on the issues. Show up and support others who are making a difference. Find a way to make something better and get involved. People who are making a difference started by making a difference where they were. Where do you see an opportunity to make something better. –Sarri G.
You likely do not know connection between thought and reality. It makes a huge difference once you get that it’s never about external things.– Marissa Nordström Pérez
We miss the forest because we are looking at the trees. That sweet spot is found in a complex, unique, nuanced motivational pattern for each individual. And most people will need help identifying and defining that pattern for themselves before they can get unstuck and into a better jobfit that engages them at the level of purpose, passion, contribution.– George Dutch
Get a new job:
Unload your current financial burdens, find job of your dreams, change your lifestyle to live within your new financial means. Simple. Just make sure your family and friends are on board as it impacts them too. –Dave Kragness
What steps would you need to take to bring those ambitions out of daydreams and into actionable items? Turn it into a side project at first, then add to that action list. You’ll eventually get to the point where something needs to give…hopefully it’s that uninspiring job!–Recently Entrepreneurial
Newly minted manager Erin struggled with guiding her entry-level employees without becoming a micromanager:
This is my first time in a leadership position where I am responsible for managing several employees. All of my direct reports are all in the early stages of their careers. I want to help mentor their professional development and make their positions rewarding but I also need a lot of work from them with a quick turnaround.
How do I strike the balance between giving them a sense of autonomy and making sure I get what I need from them. I don’t want to be a micromanager but I feel like things won’t get done unless I check in on them frequently.
See the expert advice Leadership Coach Lolly Daskal and Psychologist Art Markman gave her here, then check out what the crowd had to say:
Give Them Ownership:
Involve your team in the process. Ask your team the same questions that you ask yourself. You might be very surprised by the responses you receive. Having an open door policy is great, but don’t wait for your team to come to you – go out and ask them what they think, and then act on the feedback you receive. — Richard Lock
Make sure they feel empowered to make decisions and expect to be held accountable for those decisions. — Alonso Portillo
Know the outcomes that drive your business, explain why they are vital, share the current processes for achieving those results, schedule regular time where employees focus on innovating those processes to help make them their own while improving them. –David M. Kane
I have two employees that I rely on to manage their teams. I give them the rein they need and I ask them for their permission before I step in to handle something. This can be hard sometimes but the loyalty I get in return is second to none and I don’t have to handle as many headaches. — Dan Bockman
Set expectations, it’s OK to check in occasionally to see how the project is going and to see if they need any help. In general if they can’t get the tasks done that they were hired for by the timeline agreed upon consistently the questions are do they need more training, are the timelines unrealistic, do they not have the right tools or is this job just not the right fit for them? — Vernon Welch
If you want someone to do something, then you have to make them WANT to do it. Explain to your employees how their efforts benefit and directly affect them. Make sure you use the terms “us” and “we” when explaining things. This will align your goals with each other. After that, less supervision is required, although I would recommend a review every few months or so. — Designs By Trey
A million great ideas, but trouble following through? You’re not alone. Brittany describes a problem many of us have:
How would you recommend taking an idea to something more tangible? I am best at conceptualizing ideas. How do I execute on my ideas or find people who are executors?
See the expert advice Psychologist Art Markman gave her here, then check out what the crowd had to say:
Find a Team:
YOU don’t. You inspire other talented people to collaborate, lead and execute them together! — Moira Noiseux
Partner up with someone you trust that has the ability, drive and follow through to make those big ideas become reality. — Joelyn B.
Make a Plan:
Instead of making a long list of things you want to do, why not start with one instead? Take steps to achieve the goals day by day. — Cliff Smith
Clear vision & small chunks. Being clear on the targetand breaking the journey down into small, definable steps with clear end points. — Matthew Abrams
Write it down!! GOSPA: Goals Objectives Strategy Plan Activities — Carlo A.
Ideas are cheap and the real test is when you get into specifics of resources and tangible problems that may arise. Once you go through the process a few times, you instinctively consider these factors when brainstorming for ideas, and you filter out ones that had no real value. –James Chanbonpin
If you have a dilemma you’d like our panel of experts to answer, send your questions to AskFC@fastcompany.com or tweet us a question using #AskFC.