How to Get Out of a Career Rut

Have you ever experienced a serious lack of motivation? Disinterest in your work? If you answered yes, you likely have or are experiencing a rut. When people are in a rut, they often question their purpose in their role, as well as their career, and ultimately feel confused and drained of energy, falling behind in productivity. Whether you experienced these feelings temporarily or long-term, you are not alone. However, if you’re a leader, it’s essential to manage these situations. Otherwise, you create a negative impact on your team and risk harming your culture. Fortunately, these emotions are manageable but require effort and dedication to improving your mindset.

If you are feeling stuck or struggling to be excited about work, consider these five practices to get out of a career rut and get back on track.

  1. Make your health a priority.
    When people are feeling out of the ordinary, health is often a contributing factor. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating a ton of fast food? What do you do to cope with stress? Incorporate a self-care regimen in your daily routine, utilize your vacation days, travel, or take a walk. When you prioritize your health, you create stability and a boost in energy levels. This combination can be the fuel you need to reignite your motivation.
  2. Create a personal challenge.
    A rut can simply derive from boredom or not feeling challenged. If you genuinely love your job but lack motivation, this is a great opportunity to develop your skillset. If your organization offers learning and development opportunities, use this to your advantage. Find a communications course or volunteer to take the lead on a new project. Think about how you want to grow professionally. What other responsibilities can you own that will challenge you? This is a good time to talk to your boss and see how you can take the initiative and expand your skillset.
  3. Set professional goals and measures to meet them.
    Are you feeling stuck in the same routine? Doing the same routine every day can get old and eventually make you feel unhappy. It can also cause you to stop taking risks since you are living from a place of comfort. Avoid the status-quo. The other side of your comfort zone offers new opportunities, such as making a greater impact, getting to the next level in your career, and achieving all of your dreams. Set a goal that inspires you. If it’s easier, start small. Slowly push yourself with a micro-habit. Remind yourself not all goals have to be grand. They can be small and lead to great rewards over time.
  4. Reflect on your passions.
    Why do you love your job? Or, why do you hate your job? We tend to move at such a fast pace in the workplace, forgetting the roots of our interests and passions. Reflecting on your passions is a good reminder of where you currently are in your career and where you want to be. How do you want to evolve? Reflecting helps you evaluate your career and determine if you are on the right path. Bonus: when you connect with your passion, you create more positive energy to focus on the challenge at hand.
  5. Consider looking for a new job.
    Whether you have been contemplating a career change or switching up the industry, that “rut” feeling may be telling you to pursue new opportunities. Don’t allow fear of the unknown convince you to stay at the same job forever. Stay because you’re happy and thriving, not because you think there’s nothing else out there or that you’re a failure if you quit. No matter where you are in your career, it’s vital to gain exposure to other work environments and step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Regardless of how it plays out, every new venture is a learning opportunity.