Feel Like You’re In A Rut? Here’s How To Break Out!

When we look for a job or a career path, we’re often told to “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,” or to “find something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life.” However, sometimes we fall into a funk and struggle to find the motivation at work day in and day out.

Although we all may strive to be happy and fulfilled at work every day, we are bound to go through some peaks and valleys at some point or another. As we encounter the different challenges throughout our career, we are sure to experience failure but should not be discouraged by it – just ask Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Along the same vein, the ruts and funks we experience are inevitable but can be highly influential on both your professional and personal lives.

In an article from our friends over at The Muse, Alyse Kalish breaks down five different career ruts that everyone gets into at some point (read the full article here). They are as follows:

Being Bored

Ever find yourself at work just counting down the hours until lunch or you go home? It seems like every time you look at the clock only a few minutes have passed but you could have sworn it has been AT LEAST an hour. This is not a result of flying through all your tasks and having nothing else to do. In fact, it is usually quite the opposite – your to-do list keeps getting longer and longer but you just can’t find the motivation to get anything done.

If this sounds like you, maybe you’re bored at work. If you’ve fallen into this rut, it might be that you don’t feel challenged at work anymore or maybe the initial excitement of your job has worn off. To climb out of this, a simple way is to ask whoever you report to for a new project or task. You can even take it upon yourself to continue learning new things pertaining to your industry or role through certification courses or attending conferences. For example, HubSpot is a great resource offering free certification courses for marketing and sales professionals.

Feeling Unhappy

Feeling unhappy at work tends to leak into your personal life outside of work as well. When you’re unhappy at your job, somewhere that you spend roughly 90,000 hours over a lifetime according to Andrew Naber of RAND Corp, it is easy to see how a job can impact your life. However, most people aren’t very good at figuring out the source of their unhappiness at work which could stem from being unhappy in other aspects of life.

Kalish says “sometimes we’re really bad at recognizing when we’re miserable. We’ll place the blame on other things (woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a bad commute, a crazy boss) rather than accept that something bigger is affecting us.” Taking the time to figure out what is making you unhappy will not only benefit your career, but also your personal life and help you decide a plan of attack.

Doubting Your Career Path

On my own job search, I often doubted if my educational and internship experience truly had any influence on my career path. I thought I had always known what I wanted to do and had relevant, transferable experience yet couldn’t catch a break. I had to take a step back and realized through informational interviews that it is pretty rare for someone to be in the same industry, much less the same role, for the entirety of his or her career.

Certain industries have a tendency to “chew up and spit out” individuals who thought they always wanted to a career in them. If you’ve been burnt out from work and think a career change might be what you need, there is no harm in that. If you need some tips on making the change, we’ve got you covered here.

Feeling Like Nothing’s Going Right

We’ve all been there. It seems like everything you do is wrong and you’re making mistakes left and right. Mistakes are bound to happen, but if you are constantly afraid of making a mistake due to the potential repercussions (including, but not limited to: your boss yelling at you, sending out wrong information, having to correct your errors), you will continue doing so. In this case, it is easy to fall into a rut.

Is there more going on at the office that doesn’t exactly involve you? Maybe your company is having a turnover issue which in turn is causing a company-wide restructuring or you found that you don’t work well under the management style your boss has. If these external forces are the case, you need to figure out if you can adapt to them, and if not, create a plan of attack moving forward.

Having To Deal With a (Big) Change

Mergers, lay-offs and new hires are a few changes that could have a huge affect on your career. Maybe you took a leap of faith and stepped out of your comfort zone to move to a new city for a new job opportunity. Needless to say, this is a pretty big change in not only your career but also your life.

In making this change, it is easy to become stressed out and close yourself off. The key here is realizing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and eventually you will become comfortable. You might even become comfortable being uncomfortable which is a great skill to have as you progress through your career.

Wrap Up

Without the ups and downs of a career, we would probably become very bored. While some people are perfectly fine with the same routine day in and day out and accept that work is work, others want to be challenged with new obstacles each day. Whichever end of the spectrum you fall into, chances are you have fallen into a rut in your career at some point.

No matter the cause of your rut, it is key to remember that you can break out of it. These instances are not a bad thing, instead view them as learning experiences.

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