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Published on April 15, 2019

Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm

Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm

While we are creatures of habits, our habits can quickly become stale, leaving us feeling stuck or unsatisfied in certain areas of our lives. This is especially true for individuals who have been working in one position for many years.

The truth is that it is natural to feel stuck during points in your life and these moments exist to remind you that you are always growing and evolving, and crave change after a while of doing the same thing day in and day out.

Regardless of whether you feel stuck because you are unsatisfied and are looking for more out of your career path, or because things have simply become repetitive and you need to find more joy and purpose in your current position, here is why you feel the way you do and what you can do about it!

Why You May Feel Stuck in Your Career

You may be surprised to learn that there are actually quite a few reasons why you may feel stuck in your job after being on your chosen career path for years or even decades.

Let us go through some of the most common ones and see if you can find one that you can relate to!

1. You’re Undervaluing Your Worth and Your Abilities

No matter which career path you have chosen, you are going to experience competition.

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While teamwork is an important part of employment and you have to be able to cooperate with your coworkers, you are also expected to be great at your job and can only secure a position if you prove that you are one of the best people who has applied for the position.

That being said, once you secure a position, it can be easy to take a look around and determine that it would be hard to move up due to the misconception that others are “better than you”.

The problem with this type of thinking is that it can prevent you from moving forward while others continue to excel. No one is better than you! You have your own set of skills and strengths that give you a competitive advantage in comparison to others.

You can leverage those strengths to get to where you want to be in your career. Undervaluing your worth and abilities and not moving on because of this is one reason why you may feel stuck in your job.

2. You’ve Become Too Comfortable (and Have Lost Sight of What Matters)

If you’re not someone who is experiencing self-doubt that has prevented you from moving forward, you may simply feel stuck because you have become too comfortable where you are.

Learning new skills and being re-trained for a position can be a daunting task, and it can be easier to say, “I’d rather stay in a position where I know what I’m doing.” It doesn’t help if this position provides you with enough money to lead a comfortable lifestyle.

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You may be comfortable but comfort doesn’t equal contentedness. Your comfort may be the main contributing factor to your feeling of being trapped in your job.

If you’ve settled for your job because it provides enough for you, evaluate the reasons behind this choice to settle and seek comfort rather than progress or purpose.[1]

3. Your Work Doesn’t Challenge or Fulfill You

Your career path is generally one that you have some passion for, or one that you enjoy. It is also one that should inspire growth and should keep you engaged and challenged throughout the course of your career.

During the course of your career, you may find yourself at a plateau where your work is no longer challenging or you are no longer finding the value in what it is that you are doing. If this is the case for you, ask yourself, when did this happen? Why don’t you feel the same way you do about your work as you did before? Where did you lose that sense of purpose?

Only by figuring out where things have dropped off will you be able to pick up the pieces and begin to enjoy the qualities that attracted you to your position in the first place.

What You Can Do About It

Being stuck can leave you feeling helpless, but your life is in your hands. If you’re feeling stuck in your career, take control of the wheel with some of the helpful tips listed below!

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1. Determine Your Personal Needs

Feeling stuck is like feeling hungry or tired; it means that there are needs that need to be met that are not being met at the moment.

Sometimes, this results in a complete change of direction in terms of your career path; and other times, it means that you just need to tweak some of the current aspects of your job so that you can continue to love it.

The most important thing you can do right at this moment is to figure out what you need and lack in your career. Is your career providing for you? If so, what parts don’t you like about it and what things do you need to change to fall in love with your job again? If not, what career do you want and what skills will you need to learn to get there?

Once you figure out some of these harder questions, you will be better able to change your course to reach your destination.

2. Make a Plan That Will Help You Get There

Whether you’ve chosen to stick with your current position or go for a completely new one, you can’t just wing it. You need to make a solid plan that will help you to get to where you need to be.

After you’ve made a list of your needs, break down that list into solid actions that need to be carried out, so that you can move forward with your career goals.

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Do you need to learn new skills? If so, where can you learn them and when can you make time to learn them? Do you need to apply for new jobs? If so, what type of job are you looking for and how will you be able to acquire that position? Does your resume need to be padded? Are you prepared financially for the change?[2]

It can be a bit overwhelming to cultivate change in your life but it will be worth it in the end. A solid plan will help you along your journey.

The better you plan, the better the results will be and the fewer roadblocks will be in your way as you move forward in your career.

3. Stick with It!

Change only comes with consistency. Becoming unstuck in a situation where you feel trapped is not something that will happen overnight.

You need to constantly work at it and work with the end goal in mind. This will either be changing your career or putting your current job through a makeover. Use that as your motivation while you are following your plan. And then you are guaranteed to succeed!

The Bottom Line

Our life is full of cycles, which means that you are going to have to refresh every so often.

If it is your career that is starting to feel dull and can use a rebirth, the tips above will help you to break free of your work entrapment and begin anew.

More Resources About Getting Unstuck

Featured photo credit: Nicola Fioravanti via unsplash.com

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm How to Find Work Motivation When You’re Unfulfilled at Work How to Get Out of a Rut and Start Living the Life You Desire 13 Things to Do When You Feel Uninspired and Stuck Where You Are How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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