6 things keeping you stuck in your career

September 21, 2021
4 mins

Given all the upheavals of the past couple of years, many of us are placing a renewed focus on our careers. What will the future bring in the new environment in which change is the only constant?

If you’ve been taking a look at your career, and are feeling it’s time to make more progress, there are a few signs you should look out for, to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Here are a few of the most common.

Photo by Scott Graham.

1. You don’t have clear career goals

Of course, you’ll have your work goals, and you meet them, but when did you last make a plan for the next 5 or 10 years of your career? What does it look like? What steps are you taking to get to the next stage?

2. You’re not using your full potential

If you're bored in your current role and don't feel like you're making full use of your potential, there’s a danger that your ability to make a greater contribution won’t be noticed.

If your role doesn’t energise you, if you don’t head home each day satisfied that you’ve done a great job, frustrations can mount. You’ll either stay stuck, increasingly disengaged and unfulfilled or start to look for greener pastures.

How to overcome this inertia? Make a plan, and seek support from those around you. Look for any opportunities to test out your abilities with new challenges.

3. You don’t feel aligned with your colleagues

A recent HBR survey noted that poor peer relationships were a factor in 29% of cases where executive careers got stalled. If you don’t feel that you’re part of the team, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel passionate about contributing to its success. The answer could be a change of environment – perhaps a sideways move to another team where you can establish yourself as a valuable and engaged colleague.

4. You’re playing a waiting game

If you regard yourself as the natural successor to someone else’s role, you’re in danger of wasting valuable years of your career. If that person doesn’t move on, you’ll stay stuck, perhaps missing out on other, less obvious opportunities. And when your target finally retires or vacates the position, are you sure that others will see you as the most qualified person to take over?

5. You’re irreplaceable

So, you’re in a pivotal role and vital to the success of your team. You’re convinced you’re ready to make a transition, but somehow it never happens. It could be that you’re stuck because there's no one capable of taking your place. It’s a trap many leaders fall into.

The greater your contribution, the more important it will be to ensure you’re developing a potential successor. If you’ve been wondering why that long-promised move doesn’t materialise, ask yourself - who’s ready to do my current job, or who can I prepare to take over and succeed?

6. You’ve stopped seeking out feedback

Do you welcome feedback about your strengths as well as your areas for development? Are you communicating openly about your plans for the future and seeking support for them? A key part of any leader’s role is developing the team. When did you last request a meeting to discuss your performance and career potential? If you’re not showing interest in your contribution, people could be forgiven for assuming that you're satisfied to just keep doing what you’re doing.

Photo by John Schnobrich.

Get unstuck!

Did you recognise yourself in any of the above? Then the question is - how to get unstuck?

1. Acknowledge the issue

You’ve taken the first step by acknowledging there could be an issue that needs to be faced.

2. Find a mentor

If possible, identify a mentor who is willing to help you clarify your goals and support you as you make the transition into the next stage of your career. Choose a more experienced person, whether inside the company or in a related field – not necessarily your manager.

3. Make a plan

Finally, create your game plan. Share it with those you want to support you, be prepared to change and adapt it, but keep your focus on the end goal you've set yourself. And at regular intervals, look at it and ask yourself what actions, however small, you'll need to take to move you closer to whatever career success means to you.

Ready to take action and get your career unstuck? Sign up to Wojo and get a personalised game plan built for you - “Job advancement' is just one of the journeys available on the platform.

You’ll find plenty of inspiration, based on real-life experiences and practical ideas on our blog.

Go for it!

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