Stuck in a Career Rut

Are you having a hard time deciding what to do in your career?  Do you feel like a change is in order but your conflicting feelings about your current employer are keeping you from making a change?  If you can answer “yes” to either of these questions, you are not alone.  Many people experience high levels of anxiety when contemplating a career change, so much so that they cannot find the confidence or motivation to move forward, feeling almost paralyzed.  What you are experiencing may feel like a mid-life crisis, which can evoke similar feelings of unhappiness, but in actuality, you are experiencing what is referred to as a career rut.

It will serve you well to set the expectation that working toward happiness will not happen overnight.  Reinforce your efforts to make changes.  Try not to give into the fear of making a wrong choice, but learn ways to empower yourself.

Sometimes you get so burned out that it is impossible to focus on your career. Instead, try taking up a new hobby or picking up one you had in the past. This might sound like the opposite of what you need to do to make positive change, but it just might be the motivation you need to push forward to reaching your next goal.

Tips for getting out of a rut—What are you waiting for?

  • If you feel you may be lacking skills in certain areas, consider volunteering or joining professional networks. Not only are you building your base of knowledge, skill, and abilities, but you are building new relationships and expanding your network. Your network can help you find opportunities and can act as a recommendation when it comes time to make a career change.
  • If you can pinpoint the source of your career frustration, you will be that much closer to making positive changes. Be honest with yourself and set goals. Do you work as part of a team when you would rather work independently, or do you have a desk job but would rather be out in the community? There are positives and negatives to each job opportunity; taking the time to identify what lines up as your ideal scenario will keep you from making the same mistakes in the future.
  • If you are still passionate about your industry but think it may be time to look for a company that matches your ideal work environment, now is the time to start researching companies you can see yourself working for in the near future. Start by searching for and making a list of local employers that offer positions you might like. Then, see who you might know who works there and can introduce you to a hiring manager.
  • If you are looking to transition into a new field, now may be the time to consider going back to school or completing a certification course program. If school is not an option, what do you do in your free time that you could turn into a source of income? Sometimes the course to career satisfaction is not a clear one. Don’t be afraid to take risks, you just might discover your true purpose in the process.
  • Set a goal and map your path to achieve it. If you have more than one goal in mind, map out a path to achieve each one separately. Making lasting changes may seem overwhelming, but breaking things up into small, manageable items will make the process run much smoother. Set smart goals to measure progress and stay on track.
  • Enlist an accountability partner. We all make mistakes and that is okay as long as we learn from them, but they aren’t always obvious. Sometime we have to rely on others to keep us going, have someone to bounce ideas off of or keeping us focused. Having someone in your corner when things go wrong will keep you grounded.
  • Your ultimate goal is to get out of your current career rut. There is no time like the present to get out your calendar and start setting dates for when you want to accomplish your goals. Give it some time and don’t feel rushed; it could take six months to a year to finally figure out where you want to be. Hold yourself accountable and get started. Stay committed and don’t lose hope of obtaining true happiness.


Heather KimbrelWritten by:

Heather Kimbrel

Career Development Counselor

Author: lucinda.taylor

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