What to Do When You Are Stuck in a Career Rut
There could be several reasons you feel you’re stuck at a dead-end job – your career is not going anywhere, you no longer feel motivated to do your job, you don’t feel this is the field you want to be in, you’ve reached a career ceiling and so on. If you’re struggling to make a decision about your next step, here are some tips that can help.
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1. Ask: Has there been an organizational/leadership change recently?
If so, your day-to-day might have changed a lot and you may be feeling unmotivated and stifled because of that. How did you like your job and team before the change? If you were doing fine before, then it’s the change that’s bothering you. Speak to your manager or team leader to get a sense of clarity on the change. Is it just a short-term shuffle or is this how things will be now on? Typically big changes take time to find a rhythm, so keep that in mind before you give up.
2. Ask: is it you?
Are you stuck, because of your own lack of effort? How was your performance feedback? How do you actually do on projects? Take a closer look at your career, talk to your manager and seek feedback. Often it’s just a case of misaligned priorities. If it’s fixable, then act on it. If you genuinely do not enjoy the job, seek out opportunities that are interesting, before you decide that it is the end.
3. Figure out your ideal state.
Is it a different job in a different field? Should you be at a different company, or in a new city, or starting something on your own? Whatever it is, identify what you want and how you’d go about getting it.
4. Test the waters.
Talk to people who may be able to guide you or help you with your goals. If you’re looking for a career change, that may also be possible within the company, if you have a good record. If not, look outside your employer. Research companies, learn more about the area you are interested in, and do the ground work. Connect with recruiters, like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs, attend talks, join groups, and network. Get a sense of what it takes to get to where you want to be. Evaluate how this will impact your current situation, personally, professionally, and financially.
4. Prepare for a plunge.
If it helps, take baby steps. Volunteer for other jobs, or if your company allows for it, take a part-time job. Attend classes, or start your business on a small scale to see how you like it and how it makes you feel. If you feel hopeful and confident, go for it.
5. Dive right in.
The next thing left to do is to actually do it. This could be moving on to a new organization, changing your career track, starting something on your own, moving to a new location – it’s whatever you’ve defined your success to be.
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