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Feeling Stuck In Your Career? 5 Ways To Change That

by David Carlson
March 3, 2016 | Work

We’ve all been there. One day you are excited with your job and career, the next day you are bored and wondering, “what’s next?”

It happens for many reasons. You may have been doing the same old stuff for too long. You may not see how you fit with the direction the company or team is going.

Feeling stuck in your career is never a fun place to be. The days go by slowly and energy is typically at an all-time low. There is little to be excited about. You may even ask yourself “this can’t be all there is for me.”

The good news is that this feeling of being stuck and wanting something more---or even just something different---can supply you with the motivation necessary for making a much-needed change. In fact, it may be the best thing that could have happened to you.

So, what should you do? Here are 5 things to do when you feel stuck in a career.


1. Evaluate Your Situation

As a writer, I talk to a lot of people who want to start blogs. The first thing I ask them is why do you want to start a blog? Knowing your “why” will help determine the best plan of action, as well as whether or not they should even attempt to start blogging in the first place.

This can be applied to careers as well. When you feel stuck, you have to ask yourself “why?” What it is about your job that you don’t like? Is the work not challenging? Are the people you work with annoying? Does your manager not back you up or have your best interest in mind?

Determining the “why?” will help you figure out what direction you should take. For example, if you want more challenging work, it may be worth having a conversation with your manager. If you want more opportunities to move up, it might make sense to move to a growth area of the company or a new company altogether.


2. Look at Options and Oppportunities

Even if the idea of leaving your current employer or position seems difficult, it’s worth looking at job openings both internally and externally. You may be surprised at what positions you are qualified for or you may stumble across a job that sounds perfect for you. When you feel stuck in your current job, make browsing job openings a weekly activity—who knows what you’ll find?..

Besides just looking at job openings, you should also consider looking at what the average compensation is for a comparable job at a comparable company. Using a website like Glassdoor or Payscale you can quickly see what the average person is making in a given role. If the reason why you aren’t enthusiastic about your current situation is due to compensation, it might make sense to pursue jobs at companies that pay their employees more.


3. Pursue an Advanced Degree

Pursuing an advanced degree is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If the reason you are unhappy in your career is simply due to the current team or manager you work with, getting an advanced degree is an expensive solution to a problem that may have a much easier solution like switching teams.

Sometimes it can make sense. Let’s say that you were a psychology major as an undergrad and currently work at a mental health clinic. Because you don’t have your master’s degree in counseling yet, you can’t be a provider. Instead, you work in a patient support role. Pursuing a master’s degree in counseling would provide two huge benefits: a more challenging career with better options and higher compensation.

Another example is someone who works in business operations but knows that marketing is where their passion lies. Getting an MBA that has an emphasis on marketing could provide a natural and easy transition to the field you want to work in.

Rosemary Hook, who runs a career coaching and consulting firm provides some additional advice when looking into an advanced degree. She suggests finding out what you can expect to make once you have the degree. If compensation is your reason for being unhappy in your career, be sure you understand a ballpark range of what sort of difference getting a master’s will have on your compensation prior to starting the program.


4. Take Lessons Online

One thing that many professionals confront at one time or another is the possibility that they aren’t in the right career. For example, there are some who start in a finance or accounting role who realize that they actually enjoy programming more and would be much happier in a programming job.

The biggest roadblock? Not having the right skill set.

With websites like Udemy and Lynda offering more and more courses targeted at working professionals, there is no limit to the skills you can gain through online courses. Daniel Gelernter, CEO of tech startup Dittach, said that he is no longer looking to hire computer science majors because of the poor job universities do at teaching them coding skills.

We are moving more and more to a skills-based job market where hiring managers care more about qualifications than formal education. Learning and mastering the appropriate skills can help you shift your career trajectory towards an area you are more interested in.


5. Start a Side Hustle

In a nutshell, a side hustle is a way to make money outside of your 9-5. Blogging and freelance writing are two of my side hustles. Side hustles can be a great solution if you “don’t mind” your career but are ambitious, entrepreneurial, or want to create an extra income stream outside of what you do at your 9-5.

In my new book Hustle Away Debt I share many different ideas for side hustles and specifically discuss using side hustles to pay off debt faster. Debt is just one reason to start a side hustle, though, and side hustles can become a second full-time income or even morph into a whole new career. I know many who have transitioned out of traditional 9-5 jobs because their side hustles were more enjoyable and made more money than their 9-5 jobs.


The best thing you can do if you are feeling stuck in a job or career is to be proactive. It’s easy to get scared of the unknown and stay where you are, but you never know what else is out there until you look.

At the very least consider your options and be proactive in your pursuit for something different. No one is going to change your situation for you, so don’t be afraid to take some risks.

This article is part of America’s Entrepreneurs, a Rewire initiative made possible by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and EIX, the Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange.

David Carlson
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