A career rut is something that happens to so many professionals.

Here’s the situation: you’re employed at a reputable company with a great job. You’ve been moving up the career ladder each year and you are well-respected within your team. But you don’t feel challenged or fulfilled. You are in what is known as a career rut and you have no idea what to do about it.

Is this normal?

We’ve been made to think it is. So many of us get to a point with our careers when we realize that we aren’t moving in the direction we hoped. When this happens, you need to figure out where your passions lie. You might feel more fulfilled if you got a promotion, moved to a different company or even changed industries.

If you want to dig out of a career rut, you need to be able to evaluate yourself. In simple terms, you’re left with two choices:

  • Start afresh with a new company.
  • Stay within your current company and determine where your talents could be best utilized and challenged.

Here are some tips on how to get started digging out of a career rut:

1. Analyze your current situation.

The first thing to do is evaluate what you are satisfied with in your career and what you are lacking. A great exercise for this is to make a pros and cons list. Do you enjoy the actual work you do? How about the people you work with?

The key here is to be honest with yourself. If not, you could spend a lifetime in a career rut. Maybe you enjoy your job but you don’t like the people you work with. It might be time to consider changing companies. On the other hand, if you wake up every morning dreading your to-do list, maybe you need a change of career.

Take some time to consider this carefully. You don’t want to make an impulsive decision and realize it was the wrong path to take.

2. Take some time off to rest.

Take a look at your calendar for the past month – how many hours are you putting in each week? Taking a break to rest might give you the fresh perspective that you’re craving. If you step away from a stressful environment and even unplug from social media, this will affect your outlook in such a positive way.

It’s not just your body that needs to rest but your mind too. This break might make you realize you’re overworking yourself and that’s the problem. When you’ve had some time off, reflect on your situation and how you feel. If nothing has changed, it’s time to take action.

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3. Research other options.

If you do decide to stay within your current company, think about how your skills could be better utilized. Research not just your department, but your company as a whole. Is there another department where you could see yourself becoming successful?

You can also look at other companies to see if there’s a new position you can transition into while developing your skills at the same time. If you’re learning something new, this is a great way to dig out of a career rut. You might also find that the size of the company has an impact on you. Maybe you’d prefer something bigger or smaller.

There are lots of options to consider, so do your research and be prepared with facts before you approach someone about a move.

4. Network with other professionals.

Networking can bring you so many opportunities and should be a key part of your professional development. Network with others in your industry, the place you live – this is one of the most effective ways to get out of a career rut. In an article on The Balance, it said that most passive job seekers find their next roles through their professional network.

So where’s the best place to start with networking? Join a professional networking group, attend a meeting within your industry or connect with former colleagues. Your aim isn’t just to use networking to get a job but to maintain connections with other professionals.

5. Get rid of bad habits.

Do you have a bad habit you wish didn’t exist? You’re not the only one. And chances are, that bad habit could be affecting your mindset, which could lead to why you’re in a career rut right now.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you exercise regularly?
  • Are you making sure you get enough sleep?
  • Do you make good food choices?

You might think these habits are nothing to worry about. But if you don’t take care of yourself, your mental health suffers, which affects your outlook. Take time to care for yourself as an individual, as this is critical for overall success. Start off small but try and add good habits to your daily routine. You’ll be forever grateful.

6. Have a game plan.

The worst thing you can do, whether you stay at your current company or make a career change, is to do something impulsive. That’s why you need a game plan so you can map our your career progression and then follow steps to meet that goal.

While this is happening, be sure to maintain your professional relationship with your colleagues. You don’t want things to end on a bad note. All you need to do is communicate why you are motivated to make a change in a clear and concise way. Tell your team it’s nothing personal, you’re purely doing this for self-development. Clarify that your decision is professional and that you appreciate everything the company has done for you.

Once you’ve made the move, embrace the challenge and show gratitude to the people who helped you along the way. Throughout your life, you are bound to meet people who are stuck in a career rut. Take time to share your experiences and how you came out the other side. Karma works in mysterious ways.

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