January 22, 2021 Last updated January 22nd, 2021 133 Reads share

6 Signs You’re In a Career Rut — and How to Fix It

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You hate your job. Maybe you don’t despise it with every fiber of your being, but you feel bored and unchallenged every day. You often find yourself wishing you would be fired or laid off, but don’t want to spiral into financial ruin.

It’s a hard line to tow. Nobody wants to work just to bring home a paycheck, doing something they don’t enjoy. You may even feel you have no purpose in life, and things are monotonous.

This is one of the most glaring signs you’re stuck in a career rut. When it happens, it makes sense to look elsewhere and try to rebrand your life. Unfortunately, it’s not always this obvious for everyone.

Some people don’t realize they’re in a rut, or may not even know such a thing exists. How can you shed some light on it so you can fix the problem?

1. Everything Is Brainless

Every job involves some work that’s “brainless” and takes almost no mental challenge. Having a healthy mixture of challenging and easy tasks helps break up the monotony of the day.

However, if you find everything too easy, boring or uninteresting, then you’ve got a problem. You simply aren’t excited by the work you’re doing, and likely it means you don’t take pride in completed tasks, either.

The Fix: Toss things up a little by volunteering to take on new tasks or side projects that you wouldn’t otherwise. They’re proven to make you feel more satisfied. You might also open discussions with a supervisor or manager, letting them know you’re uninspired by the work you’re doing and need a bit more challenge.

2. You Have No Desire to Progress

It’s one thing to be happy about the title and position you hold. It’s another to rest on your laurels for years, avoiding every opportunity to advance or secure a promotion. This happens most often because you don’t see a future for yourself at the company or in your current role. If you’ve been passed over multiple times for a promotion, that’s a different problem entirely.

Either way, you’re definitely in a rut, and you need to pull yourself out.

The Fix: If a vertical move does not seem ideal to you, perhaps going lateral would be a better choice. Watch for openings and spend some time applying to equally ranked opportunities. Be sure to note the requirements of each job, and consider how that might affect your resolve.

You might also consider applying outside of your company and making a scenery change altogether. Look into a trade profession, like an EMBA program, that is relatively short to train for with a high return on investment.

3. You’re Frozen by Fear

Some people know they’re stuck, or they have a strong desire to move on but are wracked by intense fear. What will happen once I quit? Will I even be able to find a new position? Will the pay be worth it?

If you find yourself passing over opportunities because you’re afraid, you are stuck deep, deep in a hole. The best way to get out is to stop digging.

The Fix: Take risks, both inside and outside of your business. It can be scary to start a new venture, especially as an entrepreneur putting your own money on the line, but it’s worth it. You’ll learn valuable skills that you can take with you to future opportunities.

4. You’re Overqualified

It’s OK to take a job you’re overqualified for just out of high school or college, but you should never stay there. An offset of this is being underpaid in your field. It’s going to hurt knowing your peers make more money than you.

The Fix: Either plan to leave your current position soon or start working toward a promotion. Being overqualified and underpaid will get old fast, and it will harm more than just your work life. You’ll suffer financially, your ego will take a huge hit and you may even have a hard time socially.

5. You Avoid Social Interactions

You’re not going to like everyone you spend time with at work. However, if you’re avoiding social outings, conversations and engagements, you’re not in a happy place. It’s also not healthy for you and can lead to anxiety, depression or worse.

The Fix: Try to find common ground with your peers and colleagues. This is more difficult as a leader or manager, yet still possible. If you’re struggling to make contact at work, consider inviting everyone out to dinner or drinks. People may be much more friendly away from work and the professional setting.

6. Sunday Is the Worst Day of the Week

Sunday is interchangeable here. If your week starts on Tuesday, then the issue would be Monday. If your schedule begins on Friday, you dread Thursday. The point is that you don’t look forward to going to work the next day, so much that it ruins your time off. If all you can do is think about how terrible work is going to be, you’ve got yourself a mighty big problem.

The Fix: Unfortunately, one of the best ways to fix this problem is to find a new job, career or opportunity. Just pack up and go. A change of scenery will do you good, and it will go a long way toward making you happy and healthy once again.

Bonus: You’re Out of Ideas

The entrepreneurial spirit can be fleeting. One minute, you can be on top of the world with the greatest idea since pet rocks, and the next, you’re in the trough fighting for scraps. Creativity is a tough egg to crack sometimes, and it can become truly impossible if you force it.

The Fix: Take a break, whether that means going on vacation or pursuing another opportunity entirely. Consider what’s going to work best for you and your personality. Burnout is a very real thing, and entrepreneurs run into it often.

If you recognize any of these signs, you should seriously consider looking for new ways to enrich your career or finding new opportunities altogether.

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Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks

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