We often like to think we can plan life out. Your job felt great when you first started. Everything seemed possible, your skills were being utilized and you got an income.
Now, a few years later, things are different. You’re feeling stressed. Monday mornings are the bane of your existence, you live for the weekends, and you’re, overall, dissatisfied with your career. You’re in a career rut and unsure of how to get out.
Maybe you spent several years in college hoping to get the job you have now. Maybe you stumbled into it and now it’s been a few years. Whatever the case is, many people experience a career rut at some point in their lives and wonder how to get through it.
Here are a few things you can do to identify and break through your career rut.
1) Evaluate Your Current Situation
Take stock of your current situation. Ask yourself what exactly is making you unhappy and restless with your current job. It could be the type of work you’re doing, or specific job things like the co-workers you have, the team you’re on, your workload, or your commute.
Make a list of the things you like and don’t like about your job.
Sometimes it can be that you feel underutilized in your current role. If that’s the case, try to pinpoint areas for growth. Ask your boss if you can pick up additional tasks at work. See if there is anything you can take off your supervisor’s workload.
If don’t like things relating to your specific job like co-workers, commute, or role, then find other jobs that fit more in line with your desired qualities in a job. No job is perfect, but if you can find one that more aligns with your interests, then make time to seek out new employment opportunities.
2) Do Your Research
Once you’ve pinpointed the things that are causing your career rut, it’s time to do your research.
If you want to explore a new area in your career and looking to grow your skill set, going back to school or investing a large sum of money isn’t always necessary. Find out what skills you want to learn and see if you can learn them via free or low-cost options like online learning websites and apps.
If you’re considering getting a new job, then research the salary ranges for your targeted position and industry. Sites like Payscale and Glassdoor allow you compare salary data for job positions and industry.
Figuring out salary information is invaluable to help you negotiate your salary for a new job. Glassdoor lets you find the average national salary for a job as well as the local average salary relative your location. You can find salaries for certain jobs at different companies and reviews from employees who have worked there.
Let people in your network know you’re looking to improve your career. Attend meetups, go to events, and connect with others. Outside of learning more about your career, they can be great ways to meet others and learn about different paths.
3) Set up Goals and Deadlines
It can be easy to dream. People often have fleeting thoughts about moving out of a job they don’t like anymore. Maybe that could involve having a higher income, getting a more senior job title, or having a better work environment.
These thoughts are valid. We all dream to have a good working environment, make a good income, and not feel bored or underutilized in our jobs. However, to truly make an impactful change your career and get out of a career rut, you have to connect your dreams to reality.
You don’t want to spend years and years stuck in a job that leaves you drained and not fulfilled. Admittedly, we all do have responsibilities to worry about. Things like student loan payments, rent, car payments, and other bills can leave us feeling like we’re trapped in our jobs.
It can be easy to let your career dreams remain just lofty ideas. In order to get out a career rut and gain traction, you have to make some measurable goals and give yourself deadlines.
Let’s say your goal is to land a new job. Make a list of things you have to do and assign dates for each of them. If you’re trying to learn new skills, then track your progress of learning them so you can remain consistent and improve. Attend a certain amount of networking opportunities. Give yourself a date when you want to have a new job by.
4) Make Saving a Priority
When you’re looking to get yourself out of a career rut, there can sometimes be costs involved. This could include the cost of acquiring new skills, attending networking events like conferences, and personal development activities.
I disliked the first job I had out of college. What I thought would be a good job in the beginning, quickly turned into something else a few months down the line. The work was fine but I was feeling burnt out and bored in my role. I knew I wanted to transition more into writing and digital marketing, so I prioritizing my savings even more to help the transition.
I spent lots of hours improving my writing skill and invested money into courses, books, and attending conferences that helped me learn more about the industry.
5) Consider Starting a Side Hustle
A full-time career won’t always give you the most fulfillment. Some people have an entrepreneurial spirit and won’t be fully happy in any job.
This was the case for me when I starting a job a year back. The job itself was great, the hours were good, I had work/life balance, and I was making a good salary. Yet, even with all of those benefits, I still was feeling an itch to do something else.
I was curious about several things and wanted the flexibility to try stuff out without having to give up my full-time paycheck. So, I started a side hustle and I love it. My side hustle has allowed me to explore more of my interests in my downtime.
The money I’ve made from side hustling has allowed me to get closer to reaching my financial goals. It’s made me feel more secure since I now have different sources of income, rather than completely relying on my full-time income.
Your opportunity for earning more money doesn’t have to just involve a traditional job. There are plenty of side hustles you can try out to improve your skill set, explore your interests, and earn more money.
Career trajectory doesn’t have to be linear. Often times, it isn’t. When it comes to getting out of a career rut, you have to be proactive, figure out what you want out of a career, and take steps to improve.
It’s okay to change your mind and explore new opportunities. The most important thing is to get started. Research different areas that interest you, make a plan and prioritize your learning and improvement.
Have you ever been in a career rut? How did you get out of it?