Do you catch yourself gazing out of the window at work, wishing you were somewhere else? Do you dread receiving yet another meeting request, reluctantly drag yourself there, only to find the words washing over you as people drone on and on?

If you’re constantly stifling multiple yawns you either need more sleep or have you considered that you may be stuck in a rut at work? If you are, there are multiple actions you can take to either address and tackle it while staying your role, or you may decide you’re in need of change.

Before we begin, consider the checklist below:

10 warning signs you’re stuck in a rut

  1. You’re bored but you don’t know why
  2. You frequently feel like taking days off
  3. You have ideas but no one seems to care so you no longer bother
  4. You’re doing your best but each day feels like Groundhog Day
  5. You ask your boss for feedback and the response is negligible
  6. You want career progression but it’s not happening for you
  7. You’re not learning anything new
  8. You feel there’s no challenge
  9. You want a change but you don’t know what you really want
  10. You know this cannot go on

Can you pinpoint what’s causing that rut? Is it:

  • you
  • your role
  • your team, or
  • the company?

To determine the root cause of your ‘stuck-ness’ you need to know what really drives you.

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Are you motivated by excitement, challenge, analytics, leadership, problem solving, and variety in your day-to-day, or are you motivated by the prospect of stability, predictability and routine?  Depending on your motivators, a lack in any area will cause you dissatisfaction.

Perhaps you’re motivated by being with stimulating professionals with creative ideas however the team around you are plodders and don’t like to change the status quo?

If you like change, innovation and creativity, and your team is motivated by the security of knowing what’s going to happen day to day then you are bound to feel stuck because what you want isn’t what’s desired by everyone else. You may not be in an environment that fulfils your intrinsic drivers.

Are you in a large, slow moving organisation with a lot of bureaucratic red tape before things can get done, or be changed?

If you’ve done your time and worked hard, learned the ropes and delivered results yet you don’t feel appreciated or rewarded for your efforts, then you will become demotivated.

If, after self-assessment on what your career satisfiers are, you realise you are in the wrong environment, then there are several steps you can take to improve your situation before you jump ship.

What you must do

Before looking for greener pastures, explore how you can improve your current situation by taking action.

Firstly, identify what your preferred skills are. Note this isn’t about all your skills but the specific skills you really enjoy using. These will be the skills that, when used, time often flies by and you feel you are ‘in the zone’.

You may have skills that are valuable in your current role but if those are skills you don’t enjoy using and yet they form a large part of your day, that’s a recipe for burn-out and dissatisfaction.

When you have identified the skills you thrive on using, it’s time to conduct research:

  • Find out how you can create the opportunities to use more of what you love in your current role. 
  • Find out if there’s an opportunity to volunteer for a special project that stretches and challenges your abilities. If approved, that will increase your job satisfaction and potentially pull you out of your rut.

The benefit of special projects is that you get to meet others within the organisation you don’t normally encounter. And by expanding your network internally, you may uncover hidden opportunities when more people get to know you and what you can do. Those opportunities could provide that spark of inspiration.

Secondly, identify an area for improvement within your department and come up with a solution.  There may be a challenge and therefore, an opportunity to present your ideas to your manager or boss. It will also showcase your enthusiasm for making a difference, which should be appreciated.

Thirdly, ask to have a career conversation with your manager and voice your desire to utilise your preferred skills more, to learn new skills and expand your knowledge within the organisation. You may find that your boss will be supportive and help you to grow. If not, then find a mentor internally, or externally, whom you admire and feel you can learn from. Talking it out with a respected professional can help you generate new ideas.

What now?

If, after exploring those options you’re still stuck, then it may be time to move on. Speaking with a career coach will certainly help to clear your head and home in on what’s most important to you.

A coach will help you to identify your transferrable skills. The most transferrable skills are the skills required in almost all roles. They include leadership, communication, negotiation, organisation, stakeholder management, problem assessment, analysis, planning and presentation skills.

When exploring a new role, don’t try to change everything at once. Jumping from a role in a certain industry into a completely different role in a completely new industry is a huge challenge and will most likely require retraining, upskilling, and perhaps a new certification, licence or degree.

Think about where you would like to be in the next 3-5 years and plan how you’ll need to take to get there.

It’s easiest to change to a similar role in the same industry, or the same role in a similar industry.  From there, after gaining experience in that new area, you can take the next step to get closer to your dream role, or dream work environment.

Motivation doesn’t come from the destination; it comes from the journey. If you feel you are making progress, you’ll feel greater job satisfaction and find that your role is rewarding.

What skills will future-proof your career?

If you want to ensure your role and career path remains relevant, part of your journey will be to ensure you develop the skillsets that will be in demand in the years to come. It’s a challenge though, because according to Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future, 85% of jobs that will be around in 2030 do not even exist yet.

Today’s pace of rapid change – which includes technological innovation, industry disruption and environmental and political factors – makes it difficult to predict which jobs may be in demand even just 5 years from now. 

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which released a Future of Jobs report, software and app developers, data analysts and social media specialists, plus ecommerce specialists, are increasing in demand. 

Roles that require more human skills will also remain in demand. These include training and development, people and culture, organisational development and innovation management. And emerging roles, according to the WEF are specialist roles in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, robotics engineering, information security and process automation.

There is an overwhelming emphasis on technology.

So, with such forecasts there should be plenty of emerging prospects and opportunities to keep you on your toes. Consider the advice above and explore what will really make you feel satisfied and challenged – there’s no reason to stay stuck in a rut!

Jane Jackson is a Career Management Coach and can be contacted here. For on-going career management support, join Jane at The Careers Academy Online.

If you’re ready for change and a new challenge, explore our current roles here.

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