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Feeling stuck in a rut at work? Try these tips

By Sharine Sample

At some point in your career, you’ve probably felt stuck. We’ve all been there. You begin to feel that your position or company is no longer right for you, and you may even wonder if you should stick with your career field for the long haul.

There are a couple of ways that workers respond to this “stuck” feeling. People may quit their current job for another in the same field. They might switch career paths altogether. Or, they may stay in their current role and hope that something changes.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut at your job, ask yourself a few questions to help decide whether you should stick it out, or move on.

  • What do I bring to the table? Before putting the responsibility for your “stuck” feeling on someone or something else, evaluate yourself and how you contribute to your organization. Does what you do make a difference? Do you come to work every day with the goal of improving how you do your job? Do you give 110 percent effort? If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, keep reading.
  • Is my success (or lack of) related to my productivity? I firmly believe that you get in what you put out. Write a list of specific traits that demonstrate your productivity. Do you meet your deadlines and reach your goals, or do you drop the ball on your tasks? This could indicate that your heart is no longer in your work, which could be why you feel stuck. On the other hand, if you give 110 percent effort to your company and it is not reciprocated, it may be time to update your resume.
  • What are the positives? What are the reasons you started working for the company in the first place? For example, you may have been drawn by its flexibility, wonderful boss, good leadership, hybrid working model, company benefits, organization, or pay. It’s very easy to list all the negatives; however, what positive qualities might make it worth staying there?
  • Am I looking at this objectively? Share your feelings with an unbiased person and ask for their feedback. This may be a friend that you trust or another professional (as long as they are not affiliated with your company). You will get more honest, objective feedback if the person doesn’t know the specifics of your organization.
  • Are you climbing the right ladder? Maybe the issue is not the company, but your career path. Are you truly invested in your field? Are you excited about opportunities that could come down the line if you stay on your current path? If not, it may be time to change careers, even if that means climbing down the ladder you’re on and starting over with a new one.
  • Have you talked about feeling stuck to management? If you’d like to stay with your company and you feel that you offer value, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your feelings. These days, companies are more willing to meet employees’ needs in order to keep them. Perhaps they can modify your job duties or offer you a more challenging assignment. Remember to keep your conversation respectful and professional.

There is one more question, and I saved it for last because it is the most important. After you’ve answered everything else, ask yourself:

Are you valued within your company? Really think about this one. Feeling valued significantly affects your attitude, positivity, productivity, and outlook at work. If you do not feel valued at work, the only questions remaining are whether you genuinely believe that this is likely to change in the near future, and whether you are willing to stick around in the meantime.

Be honest with yourself as you work through these questions. Hopefully, this process will help you solidify your decision to stay or go.


Sharine Sample is the Regional Workforce Development Manager at Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. Learn more about Goodwill’s employment services here