Liv 4 Success: How to know when you’re stuck in a rut - and what to do about it
Getting stuck in a rut happens to the best of us. It could be down to a period of stress, sometimes it’s because of relationships with other employees, or having to adjust to a different working environment. Even a loud neighbour keeping you awake at night can start to affect things in the office! If it was always going to be easy, then it wouldn’t be called work.
But how do you know the difference between just a bad week and a bad job? It can be difficult to know when to call it a day and find a new job. If you’re truly feeling like your work is meaningless, it might be time to move on.
Read on to find out the top causes of feeling unfulfilled at work, that are warning signs it won’t get better soon…
Lack of clear direction In every job, it’s important to be working towards a firm goal and know exactly why you’re doing it. If not, you may find yourself lacking ambition. Strong aims mean a company has direction, and ammunition to get to the end result. When you’re blindly doing work with no purpose, feeling demotivated isn’t far away.
Project fear Being scared isn’t a feeling that you should associate with the workplace. Sadly, it’s one of the most common reasons for feeling stuck in a rut. Leaders and managers being fearful means they will not make big decisions easily. On the other end of the scale, scared employees don’t have the confidence to be bold and feel confident - leading to great work and colleague relationships that they are missing out on through fear.
Skills Gap More often than not, you get a job because of the skills you’ve accumulated through university, courses and experience. The problem occurs when your position doesn’t properly utilise your skills while having no opportunity to gain new ones. If you’re not moving forwards or helping others to improve, you can be left stagnant, waiting for a fresh opportunity.
Appearing productive Have you ever looked around the office at everyone typing furiously, scribbling notes and jabbering on the phone and thought - what on earth is everyone doing? People look busy but are really just managing expectations. When everything is for show to merely appear productive, tasks can go round in circles meaning nothing is ever actually done. Toxic office systems often signal deeply unproductive environments.
What’s the point? Meaningless tasks are the ultimate flashback to being an inexperienced intern - made to make coffee and not do much else. The equivalent is doing tasks that do not match with your skill set and receive no feedback when completed. Actually, you’re not even sure if there was any point in the task. A lack of clear upper-management to give direction and productive tasks mean your job and mood suffer.
So, what should you do?
First, things first - before you head into your boss’s office for a shouting match! - check to see if you can improve the situation. Think positive and try to change what you can control. Do small things that, when added together, can make a larger impact. Or even try speaking to your manager to resolve these smaller issues - at least as a start. Be careful to not come bearing only problems though; be ready with solutions too, to actually help get yourself out of the hole.
Beyond this point, sometimes the best thing to do is accept that which you cannot change, and start looking ahead. As the saying goes:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Also, an unsuspecting but very bright positive lies in this experience (bear with me!) which is that you are now better informed about what to look for (or what to look out for!) when searching for your next role. Is it the type of personalities that surrounded you? Is it the company mission? A sense of purpose? A non-hierarchical organisation? Every time you progress up your career ladder you become better at fine-tuning what’s best for you, too.
Like any breakup (relationship, job or otherwise) remember there’s plenty of fish in the sea, so get swimming.
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