Prioritizing Personal Growth  During Times of Career Stagnation 

Prioritizing Personal Growth  During Times of Career Stagnation 

Written by Manda Frederick


It’s not uncommon to experience periods when your career progress seems stagnant. Economic recessions, company-wide layoffs, or hiring freezes can leave you stuck in your professional journey. It can feel demotivating and challenging to cultivate a growth mindset when you aren’t encouraged and supported to grow. 

However, you have the power to make the most of the situation by prioritizing personal growth. Have you considered embracing professional plateaus as opportunities? 

A Reflective Pause

Recall a period in your career when you excelled — taking on critical projects, earning promotions, and impressing leadership. You were an absolute boss — what a fantastic feeling! 

But also consider: How were your work-life balance and personal growth during those peak professional moments? Your stress level? Quality time with your family, partner, or friends? Nightly sleep? Physical activity? New classes or hobbies?  

Personally, never have I ever been fully dedicated to work and also fully dedicated to my health, well-being, and life. The relentless pursuit of professional success often leads to neglecting personal growth, leaving you unbalanced and unfulfilled.

If you are stuck in your career advancement due to factors beyond your control, use this time for personal growth instead of professional growth. 

The Proposal: Personal Growth During Professional Stagnation

This time of career stagnation may be a gift. It’s an opportunity to do your job diligently while alleviating the constant pressure to climb the corporate ladder — to focus on your personal growth. 

Benefits of Personal Growth

Prioritizing personal growth alongside or even before professional growth can give you a lot of benefits, including becoming a more well-rounded person with a sense of fulfillment, improved relationships, learning, health and well-being, balance, and self-care. You may develop into a more resilient, happy, confident, adaptable, and satisfied person who aligns their actions with their core values. You ultimately make time for what’s important to you, and while work is important, you know there is more — and it’s worth making time for. 

A Day in the Life of a Personal-Growth-Minded Technologist

Create a daily schedule that prioritizes personal growth to ensure you make time for self-improvement. 

If you commute, use that time, too — practice gratitude or affirmations, listen to a book or audio course, take your call with your therapist, check in with family or friends, or even just decompress with music. If you have a partner or kids, include them in your growth activities like volunteering, spending time in nature, enjoying a documentary, taking a class, and exercising.

You may also consider offloading or automating some of your life “work” to make more time for growth — set up autopay for your bills, send your laundry out for cleaning, use a grocery-delivery service, pay the neighbor kid to mow your lawn. 

Consider treating this schedule as seriously as you do your work schedule — set boundaries with others and honor commitments to yourself. 

☀️ 6:30 – 8:30 AM | Morning 

  • Wake up and complete a morning routine like stretching, skincare, and bed-making. 
  • Eat a nourishing breakfast while you journal thoughts of gratitude and set daily goals. 
  • Engage in meditation, language learning, reading, exercise, or a hobby.

👩🏽‍💻 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM | Morning Work 

🍽️ 12:30 – 1:30 PM | Lunch Break

  • Eat a nourishing lunch. 
  • Connect with friends, take a quick nap, or enjoy a short personal growth activity like reading, meditating, baking, or stretching. 

👩🏽‍💻 1:30 – 5:00 PM | Afternoon Work

🌱 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM | Evening 

  • Eat a nourishing dinner. Consider learning to make new meals. 
  • Dedicate time to personal growth through activity, learning, or creativity. Make plans with friends or family, take a class or therapy session, exercise, spend time in nature, watch a documentary, do life maintenance (chores, errands, bills), and volunteer.

🌙 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM | Wind Down

  • Log off from all electronics. 
  • Complete an evening routine like final chores, skin care, journaling, or meditating. 

😴 9:30 PM – 6:30 AM | Sleep

Please note: This schedule is an example with suggestions and should be a guide to fit you, your lifestyle, and your family as needed.

Remember that personal growth is lifelong; embracing it during professional stagnation can be incredibly rewarding. The key is to be intentional and committed to your personal development. With a focus on personal growth, you can seize the opportunity for self-improvement, even when your career is on pause. By understanding the value of personal development and utilizing the resources available, you can transform moments of professional plateau into stepping stones towards a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Resources for Personal Growth 

Resources from Women Who Code 

More Resources 

  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss: Explores how to escape the 9-5 grind and create a balanced life.
  • TED Talks: Inspirational talks on personal growth, work-life balance, and achieving goals.
  • Time Management Tools: Tools like Trello organize tasks and maintain a balanced life.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey: Teaches personal effectiveness and achieving work-life balance.
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: Explores the science of habit formation and its impact on achieving goals.
  • MindTools: A website offering practical tips and tools for personal and career development.
  • Coursera, edX, Udemy, and Domestika: Platforms offer a wide range of online personal development and goal achievement courses.