You started your job hoping for a bright future and that you’ll be recognised for your all your efforts, climbing the career ladder along the way. But fast-forward four years later and you’re still stuck in the same role because you just got comfortable, and the only thing that’s actually keeping you there is the annual bonus or the social aspect of the job.
Whatever the case, the earlier you come to terms with the fact that your career is officially stagnant (and has been for a while now), the better, and it’s never too late to make a change.
Here are the 10 telltale signs your career is stagnating – and tips on how you can overcome it.
1. You Get the Sunday Night Blues
California-based psychiatrist Stuart Brown says: ‘Sunday nights aren’t considered the end of a great weekend but the beginning of something neither the child nor the adult is looking forward to’. But there’s a difference between being sad because the weekend is coming to an end and feeling anxious because you’ve got to get through another excruciating week at work. You need to ask yourself why this is – for example, is it because you no longer find enjoyment in your work or are you just tired of doing the same monotonous tasks day in and day out?
There are many ways you can overcome the Sunday blues, depending on what exactly brought them on. If you’re anxious about what you’ll be faced with on Monday, for example, start preparing for the week ahead as much as you can on Friday, like making a to-do list.
You might even want to consider scheduling something to look forward to on Monday, like a lunch date with your work wide or happy hour with your teammates after work to end the day on a positive note. (Disclosure: By no means am I suggesting that getting sloshed on a Monday night will make the problem magically disappear.)
2. You’re Bored at Work
If your job is no longer challenging you and has limited variety, and you feel like you’re on a constant treadmill, it might be because your job is static. This monotony can, in turn, lead you to making careless mistakes, as you’re no longer putting in the effort that’s needed.
A good way to deal with boredom is to try and find new tasks to complete to make your job interesting again. If there’s something you know needs doing, even if it’s a simple task like clearing the shared drive and organising it, take it upon yourself to manage it. You could even form a social club to boost the overall morale of the company – just be sure to run it past your boss first!
3. You’ve Stopped Learning
Has it been a good year or so since you’ve stopped actually learning anything new? Do you feel that you know everything there is to know about your job, but haven’t grown within the organisation? A sudden halt in your career’s development can – and should – cause alarm.
By volunteering yourself to take the lead on new projects – like giving a presentation or taking on a new client or proposal, for example – might just give you a new lease of excitement in the workplace. Not only this but it will also allow to research new ideas and use your brains in ways that it’s not used to.
4. You’re Earning the Same Money You Started On
If you’re still earning the same money you started on or barely saw an increase in salary over the years, despite all your hard work and commitment, it might be a sign that you’ve stayed in the same role for far too long. You’ll need to get to the root of the problem: for example, is it because you’re working at a small startup with limited funds or, worse, your manager simply doesn’t value you?
If the latter is the case, schedule a private meeting with your boss and consider ask for a pay increase. Before your chat, though, be sure to research what others in your field with the same level of experience typically earn so you back up your argument with valid statistics. If your request for a rise is refused, meanwhile, it’s probably time to jump ship.
5. You’re Passed over for a Promotion
Are other people in the company jumping the ropes? People who joined the company after you? And are you being passed over for promotion after promotion? It can understandably be quite demoralising, to say the least.
A good way to approach this particular situation is to first make a list of all your accomplishments at the company. Then arrange a meeting with your manager and ask them why you’re not getting promoted when everyone else – and you’ll have your list of accomplishments at hand to show why you deserve to be. Remember, though, that the reason you’re not moving up the ladder might simply because you’re the only who knows how to do your job. If there’s really no room for you to move up, then perhaps suggest a fair alternative, like a significant pay rise, for example.
6. You’re Not Using all Your Skills
You were initially hired because you brought a specific skillset to the table, but you may have realised after a few years that you’ve not actually used any of those skills and that there’s been no change in your role. This understandably can leave you feeling frustrated and even overqualified for the job.
Before you throw in the towel, though, you need to assess whether you really are in a dead-end job or you just don’t like what you’re doing. If the latter is the case, you could consider asking to move to another department or even suggesting an entirely new role that would be a better fit for you.
7. You Clash with Your Boss
Do you never see eye to eye with your boss? Do they constantly put you down, making you feel insignificant? Do you dread going to work every day because you’ll have to spend eight hours with them?
Rather than letting all that anger build up, which in effect can ruin your overall career development, it’s best to start exploring other options and find a job somewhere where your values align with those of the organisation.
8. You’re No Longer Praised for Your Work
Is your performance review identical to last year’s and the year before that? Does your work simply ‘meet expectations’ and is your performance simply ‘adequate’?
To break the curse of just being ‘okay’, you should schedule a one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss your performance and set goals to achieve more at work. You could even ask for additional responsibilities and challenges to help you progress.
9. You’re Given No Opportunity to Grow
According to a University of Phoenix survey, 64% of working adults report having limited opportunities for growth in their current companies. So, if you feel like there’s no way up, you’re not alone.
A good way to avoid feeling burned out at work is to try freelancing. You can start with a small venture that you’re genuinely interest in and take it from there. And you never know: it might just bloom into a booming business and you’ll no longer need your day job anymore!
10. You Lack Motivation
The most obvious sign of all is a clear lack of motivation. Do you struggle getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed and making it to work on time? Are you the last to show up and the first to leave? Has your drive to do well dropped to zero and do you count down the minutes to the end of the day?
If that’s the case, you might need to adjust your attitude to see whether the problem is you. You’ll need to identify where your dissatisfactions lie and then find ways to overcome them. You could start by making a to-do list – you’ll start feeling much more motivated when you tick off the tasks you accomplish.
If your career has stalled, finding a new one might not be the only answer. It’s important to identify the cause and to find ways to fix it – and this guide might prove useful.
Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your job? Join in on the conversation below and let us know your experiences and how you handled a stagnant career…