6 Signs You’re Stuck in a Career Rut

Considering that 24% of our time each week is stuck at work (assuming you only work 40 hours a week), if that time is miserably spent, you could feel your life wasting away. It’s important to pinpoint signs you’re stuck in a career rut so you can make some changes.

Just because you may be stuck in a career rut, it doesn’t automatically mean that you need to quit your job. First, get to the root of why you aren’t happy at work. Once you understand that, you can move forward accordingly.

So, how do you figure out why you are unhappy with your job? Start by assessing your mood, thoughts and opinions around work. The 6 signs below will be a good indicator that you’re stuck in a career rut and need to make some changes!

You dread going into work

As I mentioned earlier, at least 24% of our week is spent at our full-time jobs. If you wake up everyday and literally hate the thought of facing your boss, co-workers, or workspace, something is up. We don’t always need to like our job, as it may be a stepping stone to the real job we want, but hating going into work is not good.

Ideally, going to work should come with a sense of pride or accomplishment, even if it isn’t exactly what you want to be doing. What makes the thought of work so miserable? Is it your co-workers? Is it your boss? Try to find what makes your experience with going to work such a terrible one. Once you identify what it is, think about how you can change it. Even if it means moving on.

You lack purpose or mission at work

Maybe your job isn’t saving trauma patients at a hospital, or helping sick animals, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have purpose or mission at any job. Think about the job you currently have, what impact does it make to the company, the customers, or the environment?

If you are a receptionist, who’s life are you making easier? Connecting the customer with the appropriate party to get their concerns resolved is pretty impactful! It may not be that you are lacking purpose or mission at work, it may be that you have lost the positive train of thought you need to see what that purpose or mission is.

After careful consideration, if you truly can’t see any purpose, passion or mission in your work, you may be in a career rut and need to change things up. Seek other opportunities at your company, maximize office downtime to learn more about you and your wants. Once you have a better idea on what would fulfill you each day, hop to it!

You are bored, with no way to make good use of your time

What if your company offers no resources to help you make good use of your time? You’re bored, with no more work to get done and no opportunity to expand your knowledge. This is more-so a sign that you’re in a job/company rut, as opposed to a career rut.

Your employer should want to create a culture that fosters growth. Most companies offer employees free access to educational resources like Lynda.com or Harvard Business Review. Other companies may offer assistance in personal growth and development. If you are bored at work, with no sign of more work or responsibility coming your way, and no way to make use of your time, move on!

Your position or responsibilities haven’t changed in years

Before I dive into this particular career-rut sign, I want you to think about why your position or responsibilities haven’t changed in years. Is it because you have no desire to grow or change positions? Or, is it because your boss has made it impossible for you to take on more responsibility?

If you are the reason why you haven’t changed positions or responsibilities in years, then you are in a rut, my friend! It’s extremely easy for time to creep on by, even though your routine hasn’t changed. Is that what you really want from life? Maybe you love what you do and who you work with and have no desire to change – then continue on!

However, if you have lost the spark to want to grow and take on more responsibility, I challenge you to get it back. Leverage resources available to you through work or seek outside help. Maybe it’s time to expand on your degree, or get licensed and take your position to the next level.

Let’s say your boss or someone around you is the reason for your lack of growth and change – how are they holding you back? What can you do to move on without them? I suggest taking on a mentor in your company who may not know your boss or what you’re going through. Building your network is a great way to move to other roles and responsibilities, whether your boss likes it or not!

You aren’t growing, learning or networking

If you feel like you haven’t grown, learned anything new or expanded your network in your company, a lack of drive could result. Start taking advantage of any and every opportunity to grow, learn and network. Not only will this spark change (and hopefully passion) in your day-to-day responsibilities, but it can help you get out of a potential career rut.

You don’t know what you want, so you stay put in your job

This should come as no surprise to you, but time keeps moving, even when you don’t. If you have been stuck in the same position or company because you don’t know what you want to do, you have to get yourself out of it. You need to think about what you want out of life. What would fill your soul with happiness? What type of responsibilities would you enjoy and make you feel purposeful?

In this particular case, your career rut could be your own doing. No one is going to tell you what you want for yourself, so you need to figure it out for your own self. There are plenty of career, life and motivational courses and coaches that can help you pinpoint what you want out of life.

Related: 7 Signs It’s Time to Change Jobs


Guess what, girlfriend? This crazy thing called life can pass you by! Start taking ownership of your destiny and put yourself in a position to do and be what you want. Do you think you are stuck in a career rut? Have you been in the past? Share how you handle career ruts and any words of wisdom with other CGS readers. Post a comment below to share!

The CGS Team



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