5 ways out of career stagnation
Time to change the record?
Do you hear yourself saying the same thing over and over about your job? Do you ever feel like you're a hamster on a wheel, or that you are the starring role in Groundhog Day? The job you once loved now fills you with dread because you know every day is going to be the same as yesterday. Worse still, when you look forward to the years ahead of you, you know the next 10 years will be the same as it has been for the past 10.
A survey from 2018 highlighted 25% of people interviewed felt they were unhappy at work, an increase over the previous years where it was one in three. Job satisfaction within the public sector is generally lower than those surveyed within private sector organisations. Some of the reasons cited by public sector workers for this level of dissatisfaction were:
- The lack of opportunity to develop skills within their current job role
- Their organisation did not provide them with any opportunities to learn and grow
- The lack of career progression and feeling they were unlikely to fulfil their career aspirations
- There was a lack of motivation, with respondents feeling a lack of inspiration from the organisation to perform at their best
- Feeling undervalued by the organisation as a whole.
Having worked in the public sector for over 14 years I would have responded in similar ways, and still have discussions with people now about these re-occurring, and it is easy to feel that you are just a number or that you are taken for granted. However, there are things that you can do to create some variety within your working week.
5 ways to create variety in your working week
1. Step up
I am sure that when you first started, somebody felt it necessary to share the advice 'don't volunteer for anything'. But, is the best thing for you and your career? By stepping up and volunteering, you are making yourself more visible to others within your organisation, and you'll experience opportunities many other people miss out on by not putting themselves forward. What about asking for different or more responsibilities? These opportunities give you a chance to gain new knowledge, enhance your existing skills or develop new ones.
2. What's your story?
Look back over your career history from your very first job to where you are now. List them along a timeline with dates of when your job or role changed - can you see any patterns? Are you someone who changes jobs every two to three years, every 10, or are you still in the same role as when you started following leaving school or university?
There's no right or wrong answer and everyone is different. When I looked at my employment history, on average I changed careers every 10 years. A close friend needs to change role or job every three years; for others, it is a lot less. Whatever your story is, consider whether the lack of variety is contributing to you feeling like you're stagnating, and maybe now it is time to make a change either by applying for internal posts within your organisation, moving to another company, or having a total career change. Decide what your next chapter will be.
3. Comfort zone
Consider when the last time you felt stretched at work was, either intellectually or within your skill set. Staying within our comfort zone is something everyone does at one time or another, but as people, we have an innate desire to seek growth in some way. When we go beyond our comfort zone, we learn, we strive, and we grow. Whilst sitting within this zone might feel comfortable, you aren't 100% happy or satisfied, and you'll notice feelings of discomfort before too long which seep out and start to affect other areas of your life. Identify what is holding you back from moving roles or changing your job.
Have you outgrown your current role? What do you need to do to move up within the organisation? When was the last time you went on training or learnt a new skill? Whilst many organisations have in-house training, some often have an additional budget to use for external training. If there is a course or event which you think would contribute to your professional development, make a request to see if work will fund this. Equally, there are many free or low-cost options available for you to pursue additional learning in your own time, where you are not only enhancing your skills in relation to work capacity but potentially you are developing new skills and interests which can be used in both the wider social and working world.
Don't forget, you could ask to take on activities in which there is greater responsibility which could help you develop a different skill set.
Sometimes stagnation comes down to a lack of communication, or rather the right kind of communication. We need to let people know that we want to offer more, to experience something else. Colleagues and managers aren't psychic, so unless you tell them there are things you want to do or experience, they aren't ever going to know. It is very easy to say what we don't want, but it is sometimes difficult to explain what it is we do want, either because we think we know what the answer will be and don't expect a positive response, or because we don't actually know what it is that we do want to do to change.
The next time you wake up hating the thought of going into work, arrange a time to go speak with your colleagues or manager to discuss options and opportunities to switch things up a little at work.