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8 Signs You're Stuck In a Career Rut And What You Can Do About It

Do you know what it takes to get out of a career rut? This article will tell you about the signs you're stuck in a career rut and the steps you can take to get "unstuck" and move forward with your life.

stuck in a career rut

This post was originally published on (12/07/2020) and updated on (31/01/2022).

Maybe you don't hate your job, but you know that you could be doing so much better than what you're doing now. Maybe you just want a more significant challenge or a career break.

Some feel like they're running in circles, or is there no end to the challenges and roadblocks that keep coming their way. Many people stuck in career ruts don't even realize it, and if they do, they just don't know how to get out. It can take several years for someone to realize they are in a career rut.

The first step towards change is understanding yourself better. Let's take a look at some warning signs.

8 Warning Signs That Indicate You Are In a Career Rut

stuck in career rut

If you are not moving forward in your career, you are falling behind. However, the reality is that we can be stagnated without even realizing it. When we get stuck in a career rut or we find ourselves in a job with no progression, it can feel like our whole world has fallen apart.

Let's look at these 8 warning signs to look out for to see if you are in a career rut or in a job with no progression -

  • You are bored

  • Work isn’t going particularly well

  • You feel physically and/or mentally exhausted

  • You don’t feel excited at work anymore

  • You feel disconnected from what you do

  • You don’t see any progress lately

  • You lack purpose at your job

  • You’ve felt stuck for some time now

Seeing any of these in your life?

What are you going to do to get unstuck?

What can you do when you're in a job rut? How do you shake yourself out of it?

Here are some pointers -

How to Get "UNSTUCK" From A Career Rut

1. Find Meaning in Your Job

Most of us want jobs that are meaningful. With a few key principles and actions, it is possible to find meaning in your job and work happily on a consistent basis.

Ask yourself -

  • What are my values?

Make a list of 5 things that are important in your life. They could be things like family, friends, health, money, work-life balance, spirituality, etc. Then ask yourself how your job is serving these values. This will give you a better understanding of how your life values are being met at work.

  • What's my motivation?

What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning? Apart from money, what's your driving force? What's important to you?

For example, do you want to work for the challenge, to gain a sense of achievement? If so, does your current job fulfill these desires? If not, do you want a career change?

  • What's my job's purpose?

Have you clearly understood what tasks you have been employed to carry out? Are you doing them well? Do you know what your job's purpose is?

2. Find A Mentor

Finding a mentor is one of the greatest things anyone can do for their career.

Mentorship helps in developing your professional skills while providing a better idea of how to navigate success and challenges at work.

3. Change Roles

Sometimes the most important step is making a change to make improvements.

Many people are unhappy at work but do nothing to change that. Evaluate your options and look for opportunities while keeping in mind the career plan you have made for yourself.

4. Improve Your Life Outside Of Work

Working for long hours and having a poor work-life balance can definitely put a strain on your relationships. If you are working all the time, you are not spending quality time with loved ones such as your spouse, children, parents, friends, and relatives.

Working for long hours can also cause problems with your health, such as depression, stress, an increased risk of heart disease, and lack of sleep, to name a few.

Are You At The Risk Of A Mid-Life Career Rut?

Do you think you might need a career change at 30 or 40?

Are you feeling stuck in your current job and feel that quitting is the only way to progress in your career?

Here are some tips for doing just that -

1. Invest In Your Skill Set

Refresh your skillset by investing some effort, time, and some money to enhance your professional reputation. A good place to start is by taking courses or attending networking events.

2. Start Your Own Business

If you can’t find a company that ignites your passion, it might just be time to start your own business. This will not only strengthen your professional satisfaction but will allow you to focus on and pursue something you really care for.

Read here about how I switched careers at 42 and became a freelancer.

3. Be Ready To Adapt

It is crucial to be willing to change your path when the existing one becomes a dead-end. Many people believe that a specific job or route will make them happy and bring them success, but by realizing that it doesn’t, you give yourself the permission to pivot.

4. Grow Your Network

Having a wide range of connections is an extremely valuable tool that can help get you out of a career rut. Being in touch with the right people can open numerous opportunities for you, teach you many new things, inform as well as motivate you.

You can start out by contacting people through social media networks such as -

  • LinkedIn and join relevant groups

  • Twitter chats can be used to introduce yourself to people and

  • Get involved in discussions and get noticed by potential employers

  • Keep in mind to always contribute valuable information

How A Career Coach Can Help You Professionally

Even though you can certainly find lots of information online about cover letter and resume tips, sample interview questions, and resume templates, the advice, and information you can receive from an expert such as a career coach is unmatched.

Professional career coaches are highly skilled and trained to help people create a personalized and tailored plan to reach their goals and meet their needs.

After making an evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, a career coach will generally guide you through several questions about your situation to ensure that you have a good understanding of why you might be unhappy in your current position.

You can also receive career advice online from a career coach about not only your goals but how you can best accomplish them. Finding true happiness in your career can be an emotional process that involves processing emotions such as self-doubt and rejection. A career coach helps you deal with these emotions in healthy ways, instead of allowing them to disrupt your progress.


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