Overcoming the dreaded career rut

Work issues: woman overloaded with stuff at work

Many people get a mid-career slump after working for a long period – especially in a similar role or for the same company. If you’re feeling restless and detached from your work, it could be that you’ve hit yours. So, what to do now?

Doing the same job for many consecutive years without change can lead to a career slump or feeling as if you’re stuck in a rut. Your work starts to suffer because you’re not emotional or intellectually engaged with it anymore.

This can happen to anybody, no matter their profession. So, are you in a career rut, and what can you do to climb out?

How long have you been in the same position for?
According to a ‘Job Satisfaction Index’ developed by OfficeTeam, the average length of time people feel they should stay in one job is 6 years. Still, many people spend decades doing the same role, while younger workers (18-24) prefer to spend just 3 years per post.

Of course, it differs from person to person. However, spending more than 6 years in the same place can lead to job dissatisfaction.

How to fix it: Perhaps it’s time to check what else is out there within your industry, or even change career completely. Don’t be put off by the statistics making out like it’ll take you a lifetime to master a new subject. Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, found to become ‘pretty good’ at something only takes 20 hours. That’s only 45 minutes a day for a month!

Have people been skipped you in the promotion queue?
Another easy way to spot if you’re stuck in a rut is that people who join the company after you are getting promoted first. This might suggest either you’re not giving the job 100% or you’re simply not suited for that company.

How to fix it: Firstly, it’s worth having a word with your boss and seeing what the problem might be. An Accenture survey found, of the people who asked for a promotion, 17% got a new role more advanced than the one they’d asked for, while 42% got the one they’d targeted.

Has it been a while since the last pay rise?
A signifier you’re going nowhere in your company is the lack of a pay rise. Pay analysts Incomes Data Services found average pay rises are around 3.5% a year. Have a look at your salary over recent years and see what your rises have been. It might be a companywide problem, or it could be just you. Either way, it can contribute to feeling like you’re in a rut.

How to fix it: Again, you need to be bold and ask for it. The Accenture survey found of those who asked for a pay rise, only 15% got nothing. In fact, a quarter got more than they were expecting. He or she who dares wins, as the saying goes!

When was the last time you were challenged with a new project?
Variety in the workplace can help keep you engaged and enthused. Many people get struck in a rut doing the same, repetitive work, and don’t feel challenged to try new things. The British Social Attitudes survey shows almost a quarter of people say their job quality has declined because they are now doing less interesting work.

How to fix it: Look around for new projects and make sure you let people know you’re free to work on them. Or you could start your own project and add it to your portfolio, so clients are aware you can do other things.

Do you enjoy your work?
When it comes down to it, do you enjoy your work? Job satisfaction is hugely important. It can come from a variety of sources – be it daily challenges, a varied role or simply good people to collaborate with. But the British Social Attitudes survey found the UK is the 6th least satisfied European country when it comes to jobs.

How to fix it: It might be time to change careers or, if you’re working under someone else, to become self-employed. ONS figures show self-employment levels are higher than at any point over past 40 years – it might be time for you to jump on the self-employed and reinvigorated bandwagon.


Posted by The Secret Businessman