Do you feel stuck and unhappy in your job? Or it could be that you’re not growing or moving forward in your career, feeling trapped in a boring routine.
If yes, don’t beat yourself. Sometimes, grown-ups can feel that way at their work. And that’s called career stagnation.
According to a LinkedIn survey conducted in 2021, 41% of professionals revealed experiencing periods of career stagnation. And that often makes them feel even more sad and tired, and they might want to quit.
But guess what?
There’s hope! You can overcome career stagnation if you’re currently experiencing it in your career journey. This blog post will explain why you’re stuck in your career and give you practical ideas to fix it and feel happy about your job again.
But before we get into it, let’s briefly consider the primary indication that your career is stagnating.
Signs of Stagnation at Work
When experiencing career stagnation, it’s critical to note that you can experience one or more of these signs below:
- A lack of growth opportunities, limited chances for advancement or professional development
- Monotonous and repetitive tasks, devoid of new challenges or a variety
- Reduced enthusiasm and motivation, or struggling to stay engaged and lacking excitement about work
- Feeling undervalued or underutilized when your skills and abilities are not recognized or utilized to their full potential
- A lack of learning and skill development in the current role
- Little or no increase in responsibilities or challenges
- Limited or no salary growth over an extended period, despite efforts and contributions
- Reduced job satisfaction, accompanied by a decline in overall fulfillment or purpose in work
The signs above show career stagnation, but there are reasons why it happens to many employees. Employers bear part of the blame. No wonder Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”
But this post is about you fixing career stagnation without waiting for your boss or company to do it.
How to Overcome Career Stagnation
Some people feel stuck in their jobs at 30, 40, or 50. Often, they think setting goals, learning skills, facing challenges, and networking will fix it. But there’s more to learn about overcoming career stagnation.
Below are easy ways to deal with being stuck in your career. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re in your thirties, forties, or fifties.
Practical, Easy Steps to Overcome Career Stagnation
Step One: Assess Your Current Situation
Often, addressing any problem or issue always starts with acknowledging its existence. And that’s why it is essential to assess your current situation before you can take other steps to overcome career stagnation.
You can start by looking inward through self-reflection. And then identify signs of career stagnation you’re probably experiencing, which could be feeling bored or unfulfilled at work. Also, you should evaluate your skills, interests, and values to gain a clear perspective on what truly excites you.
That said, you should check things outside your control that can affect your job growth, like fewer chances or changes in the industry.
Let’s say there’s a guy you know, named James. He’s good at marketing. But things changed. Technology got better. As a result, James had to learn new skills to stay good at his job.
Step Two: Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Not having goals can make anyone feel purposeless and directionless; it often leads to boredom. Thus, it’s crucial to reassess your goals when you feel stuck in your career. And if need be, set brand new ones.
Remember, these goals can be short-term (happening soon) or long-term (happening later). With that said, it’s helpful to make your goals specific. And that way, you know exactly what you want to achieve.
You can also measure your progress along the way. It’s essential to make sure your goals are achievable and relevant to what you want.
For instance, let’s look at the case of Alex, who works with computers. He wanted to become more proficient at his job, so learning a new computer language in six months became his new goal. That’s because he knew that would open up more chances for him to do cool things with computers
Step Three: Expand Your Skill Set
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young,” Henry Ford once said.
Interestingly, he added, “The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Likewise, it’s critical to keep learning and gaining new skills if you want to do better in your job. You can start by finding areas you need to improve and learn more.
Of course, taking classes, earning certificates, or going to workshops can help you achieve that. These experiences will help you grow and become better at what you do. In other words, it’s also a good idea to ask for advice from experts in your field.
That’s because they have a lot of knowledge and can teach you valuable things that will make you successful.
For example, 16 years old Emily loved writing. And get better at it; she joined a writing workshop. There, she learned new writing tricks and got helpful feedback from experienced writers.
Guess what? Because of that, her writing got even better, and she was able to keep growing in her writing career.
Step Four: Network and Build Professional Relationships
Fine, you want to do better in your job, but how do you do that all alone? Barely would you.
So, it’s vital to meet new people and learn from them through what you may call networking. Of course, if you attend special events like conferences or seminars, you can meet various professionals from different jobs.
Interestingly, online platforms like LinkedIn and professional forums are also great for connecting with people globally.
For example, twenty-year-old Mark, a recent college graduate, wants to be an architect. He went to a construction expo and met architects who gave him helpful advice. They even offered him an internship, which helped him move forward in his career.
Step Five: Be Continuous Learner
In your quest to overcome career stagnation, it’s critical to keep learning new things. And that way, you can get better at your job.
But that would mean being open to challenges and new opportunities. Thus, as you’re working, you can look for chances to learn. Beyond a doubt, it’s also good to study by yourself, read books, and stay updated on what’s happening in your field.
For example, Mitchel, as a teacher, has always loved learning. To that end, she goes to workshops, reads educational books, and tries new teaching methods.
It’s interesting and surprising for her colleagues and people around her to see how all these things excite her about teaching. It also helps her students a lot.
Step Six: Explore New Opportunities
Imagine you realized that you want to do more in your job after doing step one. It’s smart to find new chances or opportunities.
Undoubtedly, that would mean thinking about different jobs or roles you like.
You can try moving to a different position in your company or a higher one. It’s also okay if you think about jobs outside your company or in another field.
For example, Owen loves drawing pictures as a graphic designer. He learned about user experience design and decided he wanted to try it. As a result, he talked to his boss and got a new job in the same company doing UX design.
Guess what? That ushered in some fresh excitement about his work and opened up new opportunities for his future.
Step Seven: Build a Personal Brand
As said already, one of the signs of career stagnation is feeling undervalued for your craft and skills. But the question is, how do you achieve that?
The answer is simple: show others who you are. Interestingly, that’s what building your brand is about.
And for sure, that means making yourself look good online and at work. Have a great resume and a professional LinkedIn profile to make a good impression. You can also show what you know by writing blogs, speaking in front of people, or being a leader in your field.
Let’s take the case of Anna, a marketing person who wanted to be known. She wrote helpful articles about the marketing world and talked at big meetings. Sooner than she expected, people began to notice her, and she got more chances to have a great career.
Step Eight: Get and Treat Feedback With Care
Getting feedback and constructive criticism are critical to overcoming career stagnation. That’s because it helps you improve and grow in your job.
In other words, it’s good to ask for feedback to improve your job. And that means talking to your bosses, coworkers, and mentors and asking them for advice.
It’s paramount you listen and try to adjust and adapt when you receive constructive feedback from people. You can also think about their suggestions and use them to improve your job performance.
For example, Imagine Hilda loves cooking as a chef in one of the big restaurants in her city. But to get better at her job, she asks her boss and other chefs for feedback on her dishes.
As an open-minded fellow, she listened to what they said and used their advice to become a better chef.
Step 9: Keep Your Persistence and Resilience Up
Overcoming career stagnation is all about getting better at what you do. Whether you continue in your current job or start a new one elsewhere.
Though that might take some time, it’s important to keep trying and not give up. In other words when things don’t go as you planned, think of them as chances to learn and grow.
That said, stay strong and motivated by being resilient. That way, you don’t let problems stop you while you’re committed to your goals.
For example, 19-year-old Timothy, a sports lover, has always wanted to be an athlete. Of course, he had many challenges along the way, but he didn’t give up. Instead, he used setbacks as chances to get better.
Thus, Timothy’s strong will and grit helped him stay focused and finally achieve his dream of becoming a professional athlete.
Again, note anyone can overcome career stagnation. We’ve talked about the different ways to achieve that in this blog post. They include:
- Making clear goals and knowing what you want to achieve.
- Being open to learning new things and gaining knowledge.
- Making friends and connecting with people around you. It’s essential to have relationships.
- Keep learning and never stop exploring new ideas and information.
- Be brave and try new opportunities that come your way.
- Showing others who you are and letting your true self shine.
- Ask and learn from Feedback, don’t be afraid of it.
- Even when things are tough, never give up and keep going with determination.
Now, it’s time for you to get more practical by taking action. Just remember that with hard work and the right strategies, you can overcome career stagnation and find success in your professional life.
Summarily, in the words of Michael Jordan said: “Don’t let obstacles stop you. If you hit a wall, find a way to climb over, go through, or work around it.”