How to Recognize You’re in a Work Rut

by Kristina Rudic | July 05, 2017

  • My Vault
Two men sitting back to back and working on their laptops

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know if you’re settled or if you’ve settled. While some workers may feel ready for a promotion every year or two, there are plenty of others who find themselves in a role they wouldn’t mind doing for a long time. Whichever of these best describes you, we’ve found three ways to recognize whether you’re in a work rut—and several ideas for how to get out of it!

1. You’re Not Learning

It’s common to hear that being bored means you’re in a work rut. While this may be true, doing certain time-consuming tasks can also indicate you’re in a work rut—and you might not realize it. If you come into work and find yourself doing a majority of mindless tasks, this can be an indicator that you aren’t being challenged enough and that your skills aren’t evolving at work—or even being used. And while some roles include more mundane work than others, if your skill set isn’t growing, then it’s time to look for a change.

A simple way to fix this problem is to determine which skills would make your job easier and then narrow them down to three or less. By identifying your areas for improvement, you can set yourself up to take initiative in your current role. Acquiring new skills will make you happier in your current role and help you build a stronger résumé that will aid in any future job searches.

2. There’s a Lack of Opportunities

Consider the type of projects you were assigned in the first couple of months in your role, and then compare them with the ones you are engaged in now. Are they the same or just slightly different? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to seek out new opportunities. Being assigned advanced projects is a sure sign that your supervisor trusts you and wants you to grow at the company. If this is lacking, then growth at the company might not be in your future.

While it may be difficult to take on new opportunities—especially if you feel swamped with your current responsibilities—it’s important to look at ways in which the opportunities can engage you in new, more difficult work. If your manager presents opportunities in meetings or through emails, chime in and volunteer for ones that will help you grow in your job. However, if no volunteer opportunities crop up, then it could be time to sit down with your manager and express interest in being involved in more complex projects. Make sure to explain why you would do a great job and why you are interested in a given project.

3. You Aren’t Applying to Open Roles

Staying motivated to constantly grow at work can be exhausting—and it’s easy to see why we become unmotivated sometimes. Getting stuck in a comfort zone happens to many, especially if the pay, hours, amount of work, or lifestyle of the company suit your own. And while these are perfectly fair reasons to stay at a company, you should not stay in your current role if you’re bored or unhappy. If the company suits you, then consider other roles there that you could apply for that will expand your career.

If you don’t wish to remain at your current company, then look at what you do in your current role and think about which direction might be next for you. Scan job titles that seem to be a level above yours and read job descriptions at companies of interest to you. Knowing which direction you wish to grow in will make your job application process easier and more straight-forward.

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

Tags: career rut | opportunities | resume building | skills | work rut

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