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Stuck in a career rut? 5 ways to break out

shutterstock_221579221January has come and gone – and so has your motivation. If your New Year’s resolution was to get a new job or find a career you love, being stuck with the same old work patterns and situations can be disheartening. Perhaps it’s time to change the way you’re looking at things…

 1. Why do you feel this way?

You’re bored, frustrated and demotivated at work and desperate for a change – any change. Before you make a hasty decision you might later regret, take time to reflect on what it is about the job that’s making you feel so stuck.

‘Just because you’re not enjoying your job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong career – often people think because they’re unhappy everything must change,’ warns Sarah Archer, career coach and co-founder of CareerTree .

‘Consider whether it’s your current organisation or sector. If you were doing it in a different environment would that be better? Really be honest about the parts you still enjoy and what could increase the enjoyment – who do you need around you? What could your manager do to re-engage you? How would you feel if you tried a different project?’

If your feelings cannot be rectified by a change in project or company and it’s more about the reward, satisfaction and meaning you get from what you do, then a change of career may be what you need.

2. Reframe success

Do you feel in a rut because your organisation simply has no more opportunities for you?

‘If you happen to be employed by a small organisation then this can happen quite quickly, and even in a big organisation it will happen sooner or later to everyone,’ says Sarah. ‘Or you might have become very good at what you do and feel there is no more challenge in the role and you can’t see any opportunities to learn, develop new skills and add value.’

Sarah’s advice is to give yourself permission to plateau while you work out your next step. ‘It’s better to be strategic about your next career move than to take a new job as a knee-jerk reaction to feeling stuck.’

This could be a time to develop your expertise further or to gain experiences without the pressure to climb the corporate ladder. As Sarah says, enjoying your career journey is as important as getting to the destination.

‘Reframe success and challenge yourself to find achievement from sources other than a pay rise or a promotion – this could be taking on a new project, learning a new skill or becoming more expert in your field. Then when you have identified the right move, your additional experiences will mean you are even better placed to be offered the job you really want.’

3. Consider a sideways move

If you’re stuck due to the structural problem of simply having nowhere else to move to within your existing company, consider a sideways move.

‘New experiences in a different work environment can be really useful when you are ready for your next developmental move. Sometimes, a sideways move to a new organisation will solve the problem and help you get back on track,’ says Sarah.

4. Look outside your sector

The longer you spend in a particular industry, the smaller it can become. If the people, values and ideas around you are starting to feel stale, make the effort to meet people in a related sector – their perspective on your industry and career might just surprise you.

‘Meeting successful people working in a related field can provide you with fresh insight and inspiration. Go to seminars, courses, or talks – anything that will expose you to new ideas,’ says Natasha Stanley, head career change coach at Careershifters’  Pioneer Course.

‘Sometimes, challenging our pre-conceived notions about a particular job or industry can free up all kinds of possibilities. You may find that your existing experiences and skills can be put to use in a field of work you hadn’t even known about before.’

5. Revitalize your life outside of work

Finally, remember that being “stuck in a rut” is more of a mind-set than a situation.

‘If you can’t find a way to shift that sinking feeling inside your workplace, you can take steps outside of work to bring a fresh burst of energy and ideas into your life,’ says Natasha.

‘Spend a few hours a week indulging in something new and exciting. Take up a class in something you’ve always loved, but have never done before. Join a Meetup group and get to know new people. Not only will new experiences revitalize your mood, they might just spark some ideas for a future career move.’

Image Copyright: Oliyy,

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