5 Things To Do When Your Career Hits Rock Bottom

Last year at this time I hit rock bottom in my career. For those of you that know me, you know why and for others it's not important to hash out the past. I learned from the experience. So for those of you that are in a bad situation at work, in your role, or in your career I'm able to offer some advice.

Keep in mind, it's taken me a year to be able to write about it. If your in a bad situation, you're not going to have an epiphany after reading this post or any other advice oriented materials that are available. You have to climb your way out. Here are some steps:

  • Reflect on your career and recognize what you don't want, but more importantly, what you want from your employment and career. Eventually, you will find that you have options, but you want to be able to judge whether any new situation is truly better for you, or just different.

  • Learn something new. Healthy distractions are a good thing. I biked. I biked a lot. I learned about the cloud and big data. I built up a new list of startup ideas. 

  • Confide in your close friends and colleagues. I owe a big thank you to a handful of you, some of whom I could not disclose any detail on what was going on.

  • Find an alternative form of expression - I blogged more. I tweeted. I cooked. I started writing a book. My one regret was not finishing it.

  • Determine your "outs". This is a poker term, and refers to making sure you have options and only go all in (or bet big) with your chips when you can draw a big card that can improve your hand. If you're out of work or might be soon, it's critical to do the basic things to make sure you can sit at the table with the pros like network, get your LinkedIn profile updated, etc. but that's not enough. Think about what you'd do if you were solo for awhile. What services could you offer? Who could be an early customer? How might you get the word out that you were available? 

I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't very good at following this or any advice. If you've hit rock bottom,  hang in there and build your ladder.


  1. Great article. For better or worse, one time or another we all go through these things. While I don't wish the bad times on anyone, I believe it is the challenging times that strength us as people, make us more empathetic and make us better leaders. Glad to see you made it through and for those of you that are going through it, just keep pushing, follow the advice above and you will eventually come out of it.

    1. Thanks Aaron. It's hard to stay level headed and objective when things appear out of control and out of your hands.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.