At some point in your career, it’s likely you’ll experience the feeling of being stuck in a career rut. If you’ve ever felt that Sunday night fear as Monday morning looms around the corner, or that feeling of jealousy when a friend gets a new job, it may be time to reconsider the career path that you’re on. Career ruts can be difficult to fix, especially when you’re not exactly sure why you’re so miserable, let alone being able to identify the solution to that problem. Everyone gets bored with work sometimes, but boredom shouldn’t be something you feel every day. If it is, your motivation will start to deteriorate, your performance will plateau, your desire to learn new things will fall, and you won’t push yourself past what’s required to complete your role.
A career rut can be brought about by doing the same tasks over and over for too long; this can dishearten anyone that wants to be challenged more. Your time is valuable after all. There’s no need to waste it feeling unappreciated, unmotivated and dissatisfied. To help you on your way, we’ve highlighted some of the reasons why might be feeling like this and what you can do about it.
1) IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
The first step in eliminating career rut is focusing on what’s behind your dissatisfaction. Sure, you may not be a fan of your job, but what specifically is causing you to feel like this? Do you find the day-to-day duties to be repetitive, are you tired from working more than 40 hours per week, or are you struggling to find reasons to grow your skills and knowledge? It could be the case that you’re stuck in an industry that you’re not passionate about, or tired of making a long commute to work to a place that you’re not particularly fond of. It’s important, to be honest with yourself where — you need to be specific by outlining exactly what’s leading you to feel down in the dumps about your job.
Once you’ve identified the main underlying problems, you should set aside time at the end of each week to note down things that you don’t like about your job, as well as the things that you do. This process will help you identify what type of role and company you should look for – and what to avoid – when you make your next career move.
2) RECOGNISE AND RE-IMAGINE YOUR GOALS
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, it may feel like your next milestone is out of reach. Whether you work for a digital marketing agency and you have to wait two years before you’re eligible for a promotion, or working at a startup where the infrastructure for career growth doesn’t quite exist yet, it’s important to picture milestones in a way that makes them more attainable. If you’re able to see something as achievable, you’re more likely to alter your behavior to reach those goals.
It’s also important to remember all that you have already accomplished in your career and all of the potential feats that lie ahead for you. This bigger picture thinking can help to reduce the pressure that you place on yourself and can act as a calming way to overcome both personal and professional rut.
3) CARRY OUT RESEARCH
It’s now time to figure out what potential roles will be the right fit for you. As you’re already making a list of the things you like about your current role, you should start by researching companies and job openings in your field to see if any sound like they match your “amazing job” criteria. In some cases, this may be enough to make you realize you don’t need a new job; you just need to apply some changes to your current position to make it more enjoyable.
This research process may also make you consider a complete career change by moving into a completely different industry, or taking time out to pursue a degree at University to make your career move in another direction to the one you had always imagined. Is there a hobby or interest you’ve always loved but never thought about doing it as a full-time role? Don’t be afraid to consider all options as the fear of taking a chance on something new shouldn’t hold you back from doing something you’re passionate about.
It’s also important to chat with friends, mentors, industry friends, and family when you’re trying to get out of a career rut. They may be able to recognize your strengths better than you so if they have any recommendations, it’s worth setting aside time to listen to them.
4) CREATE A PLAN AND EXECUTE IT
It’s now time to create a plan of action that helps you get to where you want to be. Take a look at all of your options to determine what excites you most or what is more realistic for this stage in your career. You might have a couple of potential goals in mind, for example, you may want to study a Masters in Digital Marketing, while also pursuing a senior level management role at a digital marketing agency. It’s perfectly OK to have multiple goals, but for now, let’s just choose one goal and stick to it by mapping out what you’ll need to do to achieve it.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a Senior Marketing Manager who’s working in an in-house role for a small family business that produces branded t-shirts. Your goal is to transition into a digital marketing role that specializes in search marketing (SEO, PPC and Display Advertising) within the next 18 months. Your plan may look something like this:
- Evaluate my knowledge: Do I have any experience in search marketing? Would I be comfortable in this type of role?
- Identify training opportunities: Are there any courses that I should consider which will help me gain the knowledge I need for this role?
- Industry connections: Who do I know that works in this type of role? They may be able to offer me some guidance.
- Personal profiles: Update my CV and LinkedIn profile to reflect my greatest achievements and the skills that I have.
- Side projects: Set up my own website/landing page to hone my search marketing skills by optimizing it for on-page and off-page SEO, and then running some Google Adwords campaigns to learn the basics.
Everyone’s plan will look different, but the point is that no matter how big your goal is, it will appear achievable if you break it down into bite-sized steps which work to your strengths.