Stuck between me: A psychodynamic view into career inaction

Philip Rogiers, Marijke Verbruggen, Paulien D'Huyvetter, Elisabeth Abraham

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We all know people who want to make a change in their careers but do not act on this desire. Yet this phenomenon, recently labeled “career inaction” (Verbruggen & De Vos, 2020), has received almost no research attention to date. To address this gap and enrich our understanding of career inaction, this paper explores the lived experiences of 43 individuals characterized by inaction. Employing a qualitative research design and informed by the broader literature on psychodynamics, we find that people's experience of inaction is emotionally tense and situated among the interaction of three psychodynamic “me”-identifications: the “striving me,” the “comfortable me,” and the “uncertain me.” Our study further identifies various tension-easing strategies that help people ease the psychological strain of career inaction, even though their inaction often continued. Altogether, our study enriches and extends extant theorizing on career inaction and calls for a renewed focus on bounded rationality and emotionality in contemporary careers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103745
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Career inaction
  • Career decision-making
  • Career indecision
  • Individual career management behavior and strategies
  • Career transitions
  • Qualitative methods


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