5 Ways to Break Out of Your Career Rut
When you’re really lucky, you genuinely love your job. You wake up every day excited to slip on that business casual and hang out with your office besties. Any opportunity you’re given to tackle an important project or make a big presentation feels like a treat, and you have a long-term plan for yourself in your current industry… or maybe even at your current organization. Unfortunately, most of us haven’t hit that job jackpot yet. According to a new study from LinkedIn, nearly a quarter of employees feel like they’re “on a treadmill going nowhere,” and almost half those surveyed between the ages of 35 and 44 have no clear idea of their career paths, putting them at risk of “sleepwalking” through their work life. To put it bluntly, many of us are simply in a rut with our jobs.
If you’re not someone who currently lives to work, doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone? Keep scrolling for five steps to take if you feel like you’re going nowhere: With a little bit of action, you’re going to bounce back.
1. Think about your endgame. We spend a lot of time working. In fact, according to LinkedIn — and this statistic might blow your mind — professionals spend an average of 90,000 hours on the job over the course of a lifetime. (That’s like working every second of every day for over a decade straight, without so much as a bathroom break or a coffee run.) Work might be inevitable, but it’s still important to understand what you’re in it for. “Why do you get up and go to work every day?” asks LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele. “We’re happiest when what we do lines up with who we are, and by understanding what makes you happy in your career and beyond, you can establish goals that help you work toward your individual definition of success.” You might not be able to jump directly into your dream job, but you can still take the opportunity to think more seriously about why you do what you do — and what you might be able to do that would be even more satisfying.
2. Ask for advice. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but sometimes an outside opinion is just what you need to shake yourself out of a professional sleepwalk. Decembrele recommends seeking out people in your network who might already be working in industries or positions that could be the opportunity you’re looking for. You should also reach out to friends or acquaintances who’ve made career moves that you find inspiring. They may not be able to give you a ready-made solution to escaping your current grind, but they can help you start developing a practical road map to get yourself there.
3. Master the upskill. When you’re in a rut, you often find yourself with extra time on your hands. After all, when your job is uninspiring, you’re not exactly hustling to spend your free hours getting better at it! Redirect your focus and use that extra time to your advantage by spending it learning new skills or refreshing old ones. Take an online class from an expert, or fall down the black hole that is internet research if you’re feeling autodidactic. You may also want to check out LinkedIn Learning, which offers 12,000 courses on everything from graphic design to project management.
4. Chase your passion. “Try pursuing a side hustle or passion project in a new field that interests you and gets your creative juices flowing,” Decembrele suggests. “Whether it’s moonlighting in an art gallery or managing social media for a non-profit, more than one-third of professionals today find success in having a fun gig on the side, and this can be a great way to uncover new opportunities and potentially lead to a new career path.” Beyond just learning and refreshing skills, you can take steps toward actually starting your side hustle or passion project in the free time that your rut has opened up. At the very least, it might fill the emotional gaps an unhappy job has left you with. And at best, the process will prove to you that you can start moving in a new direction with your career!
5. Stay in the know. Learning everything you can about your current industry is another great way to take advantage of time during which you might otherwise just sleepwalk. “Staying up to date on what’s trending in your industry can help re-inspire you in your career journey,” encourages Decembrele. It could be that all you need to wake you up is the injection of new information that will reignite your interest in your field.
How do you deal when you feel like you’ve been sleepwalking on the job? Tweet us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)