Imagine you’re building a puzzle. You have a basic idea of the final image, and the puzzle pieces are scattered all around you. You select one puzzle piece, and put it in place. Next piece. Next piece. You continue building the puzzle until you hit difficulty. Latest piece in hand, you try to place it. But it does not fit. You struggle and struggle, but its ends do not align. And you cannot find the correct fit. So you go back to the last piece you placed. You trace its contours, complacent in its shape and fit in the picture.
Your career is similar to a puzzle piece. You may have a big picture of where you want to end up and the long term goals you want to achieve. So you take the necessary steps to get there. But if the steps are not correct for you and the picture in your mind, then you’re just extending the time it will take to complete that picture. This can lead to a career rut.
Career ruts happen when you are stuck in a job with no growth. This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe you’ve grown complacent. Or you lack the qualifications to proceed. Maybe you’re in the wrong industry. Here are a few signs to recognize a career rut.
Signs you’re in a career rut:
- You dread work- if you wake up every day not wanting to go to work, that’s a problem. We all have those days where you would much rather sleep in than go to work, and that’s understandable. However, if you’re dreading work every day, this is a sign you need to make a change. Maybe you’re bored, or unchallenged. Whatever the reason, it is not a good sign.
- You complain incessantly-Listen, I know we all complain about work. It’s inhumane to NOT complain about that annoying thing your coworker said/did, or your piling workload. However, if you complain about the same issue near daily, that is an unhealthy pattern. If the complaint is something that cannot be resolved by yourself or your managers, then it’s time to move on.
- Your current job is not contributing to your long-term goals- If you know what you want, why follow a path that strays away from it? It is important to constantly evaluate your current positions, and determine whether it is helping you to become the YOU you want to be. If they don’t align, then don’t follow it.
- You hate the company- whether it’s to do with the company culture or your particular responsibilities, there could be a multitude of reasons why you dislike the company you work for. If this is you, leave the company. Disliking the company makes you less likely to want to work, meaning that the quality of your work and your workplace experience weakens.
How to move on:
Now that we recognize some of the errors, how do we correct them? Here are a few tips.
- Be honest with yourself. The first step is acknowledging your current position and your feelings. Once you’ve determined if your feelings are indicating the need for change, then follow your feelings.
- Find your purpose and follow it. Yes I Know, that’s a tall order. But it is essential. Knowing your purpose gives you guidance. It gives shape to your picture. With purpose, you can establish workable small-term goals to follow that will contribute to reaching your long-term goals.
- Step out of your comfort zone- We learn by trial and error. This piece didn’t fit in the puzzle? Use a new one. Still didn’t fit? Maybe rotate it. Placing that same puzzle piece in the exact same way will not yield results. Similarly, you have to try new things and hope that they will fit. Learn new skills. Attend company events and networking events. Take on new responsibilities. As you do this, you challenge yourself and can learn the things you like and don’t like. Maybe you’ll discover a new passion. Maybe you’ll meet someone at a networking event that leads to new opportunities. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
- Work for that promotion. If you feel unchallenged in your current position, a promotion will provide more responsibility. Show your capabilities, take matters into your own hands and negotiate for the promotion.
- Change careers. Sometimes where we’re at is not where we’re meant to be. If you feel this way, it’s time to move on. To find new career paths, first establish your skillset and interests. Then research careers that align with them. It’s no use working somewhere your skills are underutilized, or your interests are not met. Find a mentor or figure that inspires you. Figure out your passion in life, and how you can turn that into a workable skill.
It is tough when you feel stuck. But it is important to remember that you can become unstuck. Try out our tips if you ever find yourself in a career rut. It might just lead you to the right piece for your puzzle.
Do you have any tips for getting over a career rut? Let us know in the comments below!
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