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Feeling stuck in your career? 10 possible reasons for career stall

Is your career heading down a dead-end road?

Photo by Benny Lin

If you’re not moving forward in your career, do you know why? Not knowing the cause of your “stuckness” can be a huge obstacle to breaking free. Here is a list of ways careers become derailed. Do you see yourself in any of them?

1. You’re at the top in your company: There’s no place to go in your line of work except down or out.  You may be frustrated with your own lack of progress and even more frustrated with your company’s lack of follow-through on promises. Many companies have put expansion plans on hold during the recent unfavorable economic climate, and as a result, projects, jobs, and promotions once a hot topic for discussion have been relegated to the back burner.

2. There are people in your way: You don’t like thinking about it that way because they may be friends and colleagues, but they stand between you and the position you really want. With family in the area, kids in school, and a healthy mortgage, they don’t look like they’re going anywhere, and they won’t be retiring soon.

3. Your enthusiasm left town with the economy: Ever since the first round of layoffs, you’ve wondered what happened to the job you used to love. You’re now performing two, no wait, three jobs, and you haven’t seen an extra dollar.  At first, you felt proud that the company felt it could count on you. Now, you’re just tired.

4. This isn’t your job: You thought you’d do this for a year to pay the bills and maybe get ahead a little. That was in 2006. You’re still not ahead, and past the first year when it still looked like there was light at the end of the tunnel, you haven’t liked this job for a single minute.

5. This used to be your job: You loved your job for a long time. And suddenly, you didn’t. Maybe the work changed; maybe the people changed; maybe you changed. It’s just not fun anymore.

6. The stress is killing you: You actually like your job, but you’re worried that spending one more year in it may mean that they’ll be talking about you instead of with you at the next company picnic. It was always a pressure cooker, but the past couple of years have blown the lid right off. Your health has become a bigger concern than your career, and you’ve backed way off on accomplishing anything.

7. You made the wrong move: You turned down the move to headquarters. You didn’t make good on your promise to reorganize the office by the end of the year. You took family leave to care for your dying parent. You went on maternity leave during the last month of the big project. It wasn’t a federal crime, but it put you out of your boss’s good graces.

8. You gave it everything you had: That last project took it all: Your energy, your creativity, your time, your mojo. It left, and you haven’t seen it since. As a result, you feel like you’ve been coasting, and you don’t know how to get back on track.

9. You’re under attack: Someone – it doesn’t even have to be your boss – has made you the target of their frustration, anger, and need for power. You can’t do anything right. They may scream at you outright or undermine your authority in more subtle ways. Many times, you can’t put your finger on what’s going on, but you know that your confidence has suffered a major hit, and you don’t know how much longer you can hang on.

10. You were fired: The worst day of your career has already happened. You’re barely over the shock, you really need a job, and no one is returning your calls.

This list runs the gamut from temporary boredom to life-threatening stress and failure. If you see yourself in any of these stories, write down the answers to these questions:

  • How long has it been this way?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how much do I want it to change?
  • How soon do I need it to change?
  • What will be the best thing about the change?
  • What will be the worst thing about the change?

If you don’t see yourself in any of the above scenarios, please share your experience with being stuck in your career in a comment below. You may help others clarify what is happening to their careers, as well.

If you already know you want to make a change but thinking about it makes your head feel like it will explode at any second,  contact me at Jeri@WorkwriteResumes.com to schedule a 15-minute no-obligation consultation. We will figure out together if I am the best person to guide you out of the dark, scary place your career has become. 

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