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How to Break Free From a Career You’re Stuck In


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When you wake up each day, are you pushing the snooze button because you’re just dreading going to work? Do you get a pit in your stomach on Sunday night because you know you’ll be busy and miserable at work the next day? Staring out the office window, dreaming of what else is out there? If you’re feeling like your career isn’t moving forward, you're definitely not alone. 

It's frustrating to feel stuck, especially when you know you have more to offer. How are you supposed to crush it at the adult game if your career is making you feel so down? Well, chances are high that this is all due to stagnation in your career, and it’s definitely possible to shake this all off and keep going. But where do you even begin? Well, let’s talk about how you can turn that frustration into fuel and start making meaningful progress.

How Feeling Stuck in Your Career Can Be Detrimental

In what way can this actually be bad? When you're not actively moving forward or challenging yourself, it’s not just a matter of standing still—your skills can become outdated, and your motivation can wane, causing your overall performance to suffer. Seriously, nowadays, with AI and technology constantly changing, it’s only going to get worse.

This stagnation can then become visible to colleagues and supervisors, potentially affecting your reputation and opportunities for advancement. Moreover, being stuck can lead to a decline in job satisfaction and personal fulfillment, which often spills over into other areas of life, affecting your mental health and personal relationships. So basically, there’s this domino effect that’s just going to keep on happening. So, to sum this all up, the longer this inertia persists, the more challenging it can be to break out of it as the skills gap widens and the professional world evolves around you. This stagnation risks turning a temporary rut into a permanent condition, and it can basically make it next to impossible to get out of this. 

But How Can You Break Out?

So, as you can see above, it’s pretty hard, right? One thing leads to another, and then you’re just stuck. While forty or even fifty years ago, being stuck in a career could be fine, and you could do the same thing for the rest of your career until retirement- that concept literally no longer exists. 

Technology is viciously changing, and what you’re currently doing might become completely irrelevant within a couple of years (or longer). So, that’s why you can’t be stuck, and you can’t allow yourself to be stuck with. So, here’s exactly what you can do. 

What’s Making You Feel Stuck?

The first step to solving any problem is understanding it. Are you bored with the day-to-day tasks? Do you feel undervalued or perhaps underpaid? Or is it that there’s no clear path for advancement in your current role? Whatever it might be, you need to find it; you 100% need to know what this even is. 

Pinpointing the exact reasons why you feel stuck is crucial because it directs your next steps. Sometimes, writing these thoughts down can make a huge difference in how you approach your situation.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Once you know what’s holding you back, set some concrete goals. What exactly do you want to change or achieve? Maybe it’s acquiring a new skill, landing a promotion, or even changing careers entirely. Whatever it is, break your main goal into smaller, manageable milestones. If your goal is to move into a leadership role, for instance, a smaller milestone could be to lead a project or take a course on management. 

Consider Looking into Mentorship

At this point in time, this piece of advice seems to be really overdone, right? This is usually plastered everywhere, but the thing is, it just works. Besides, sometimes, we’re too close to our own situations to see the best way forward. That’s exactly why talking to someone who’s been in your shoes can provide invaluable insights. 

It’s going to be a really good idea to just seek out a mentor within your industry or even your current workplace who can offer guidance and advice and maybe even advocate for you. Now, not all employers will do this; some are growth-focused, and some are against this because they fear their employees leaving. So, what’s the culture at your company? Better yet, why do this? Regular feedback from them can be a great eye-opener for understanding how others perceive your strengths and areas for improvement.

It’s All About Continous Learning

Did you have a lot of new certifications at the beginning of your career that have now expired? Well, why not consider a BLS certification renewal or some other type of certification renewal relevant to your career? Not just that, but go further into this. A lot of people, even to this day, don’t seem to understand this, but trends and technology are constantly changing every couple of months sometimes- take a look at AI and how rapidly things have changed. 

This is exactly why it’s a good idea to consider taking courses, attending workshops, or even pursuing further education if necessary. Sure, it's a lot of work, but these not only enhance your skills but also make your resume more attractive to future employers or even your current one, showing your commitment to growth.

Keep on Networking 

Alright, so this is also generic, but it can work, not always, but sometimes networking can actually get the job done. However, you really need to keep in mind that networking isn’t just about swapping business cards or adding new connections on LinkedIn. It’s about building relationships where you can share ideas, learn from others, and open doors to new opportunities.

Again, there’s an art to it that you’ll have to master in order to be truly successful at it.  It means you’ll need to attend industry meetups, join professional groups, or even reach out to a former colleague for a coffee chat. You never know which conversation could lead to a new job offer, project, or insight that could change the direction of your career. If you’re an introvert, this alone can be tiring and a lot of work, but it’s needed. 

Consider Going Freelance or Doing Side Projects

Sometimes, a side hustle that involves the same niche in your career could actually be pretty helpful. So, if your current job isn’t fulfilling, a side project or freelance work can be incredibly liberating and enlightening. It allows you to explore interests that may not align directly with your day job, build new skills, and network with a new crowd. 

This can also serve as a practical test ground for moving into a new field entirely. You should try to do this while you do your full-time job. You gain experience while your full-time job gives you income. 

Re-evaluate Your Current Position

This was somewhat mentioned already, but some employers and positions are not meant for growth—it’s like it’s not allowed. So, are you dealing with this? The issue might be your workplace and not the career path itself. If there’s truly no room for growth, or the company culture doesn’t align with your values, it might be time to look elsewhere. A fresh start can sometimes be exactly what you need to reignite your passion and drive.

Think About Your Personal Branding

Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world, both in-person and online. This is exactly why you need to look into updating your LinkedIn profile, professional bio, or even your resume, which can redefine how others see your professional capabilities. Besides, refreshing your brand can also include sharing your knowledge through blogs, videos, or public speaking, which positions you as a thought leader and increases visibility.

Experiment with Different Roles

This piece of advice might be too hard to implement because your employer might not allow for it. But, if possible, seek opportunities within your current workplace to work on different projects or in different roles. This can break the monotony of your current position and help you discover new areas that may be more fulfilling. 

So, you could look into job rotation programs, temporary assignments in other departments, or volunteer projects that can offer insights into other fields without fully committing to a career switch.

Seek Out Some Inspiration

Feeling stuck can sometimes be a symptom of lacking inspiration. While it might not always be the case, it usually is. This is exactly why you’re going to want to look for new sources to reignite your passion. This could be podcasts, books, or seminars related to your field. Engaging with fresh content can spark new ideas and perspectives and even inspire innovative approaches to your work.

Consider a Professional Career Coach

Last but not least is the career coach. Now, they’re advertised everywhere, but a good career coach can be life-changing, career-changing too, of course! They can also help you recognize opportunities you might have overlooked and hold you accountable for your career goals.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links.


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