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Bad Workday or Career Rut? Here are the Signs and How to Get Out

Maximize your potential.
by Arianne Merez
Feb 7, 2022
Photo/s: Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse

Writer Melissa mulls resigning from her four-year-old job, her first since she graduated from college five years ago, to transfer to a new company in hopes of better pay and opportunities.

Since she joined her current media firm, Melissa said she has been doing the same tasks over and over with no promotion in sight, at least she thinks so.

"Pakiramdam ko kasi hindi ako nago-grow at parang hindi naman nakikita ng mga boss ko yung extra effort ko kahit na I go beyond my duties," Melissa, who refused to reveal her real name for fear of reprisal, told reportr.

"Alam ko naman sa sarili ko na I can do better and I can do more. Feeling ko pag nag-resign ako, hindi naman ako kawalan sa company ko," she added.

Melissa is not alone. Globally, nearly six out of 10 people or 59% want companies to provide more opportunities for professional development and growth according to the LinkedIn 2022 Global Talent Trends Report.

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It's a feeling that resonates with millions working remotely or on-site, who think they're in a career rut, trapped to do the same tasks every day.

While many people have lulls in their careers, professional life coach and psychologist Beverly Denice Ongson of Dear Future Self PH said career ruts are a whole different thing.

"There is no set time frame for describing someone who is stuck in their job. If you dread going to work every day and worry about the upcoming workweek every Sunday night, you should reconsider if this is the right career for you," Ongson told reportr.

Unsure if you're in a career limbo or just having a bad time at work? Here are signs to watch out for to see if you're in a career rut:

You don't fit in the company culture

Feel like you don't share your company's values and mission? Chances are you're not a cultural match.

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According to Ongson, if you feel unhappy at work because you don't share the prevalent work ethic and are uncomfortable in the workspace, it might be a case of culture misfit.

"Language and communication, as well as everyday work ethic and the integration of work and lifestyle, are all indicators of cultural fit," she said.

Your value is not recognized

Ongson suggests answering the following questions to see if you are valued. If you can't answer yes, chances are you need to look for another work or opportunity:

  • Are you welcome at work?
  • Do you think you're valued at work?
  • Are you able to contribute and get compensated for your efforts?
  • Is it possible for you to be yourself in this organization? 
  • Does the company still trust you or suspicions are there for good?

Your work suffers

A common symptom of a career rut is the degrading quality of work which is often used to deal with lack of contentment in the job according to Ongson.

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"You begin to miss deadlines, lose confidence, and become dissatisfied with your work. You may also grow indifferent and lose the motivation you previously have," she said.

You feel stagnant

Are you still learning new skills and ideas in your job? Do you find new opportunities and responsibilities? If not, Ongson said this could be a wake-up call that you're becoming stagnant career-wise.

"If you feel that you've reached the pinnacle of your learning curve, your performance is likely to drop. Take some time to consider what you'll need to find purpose in your workplace if you're unsatisfied," she said.

Your health suffers

Have you been restless because of your job? If yes, chances are you've developed a poor work-life balance.

"When you're stuck in a rut, it might seem like you're trudging through quicksand every day just to get by. You're exhausted and drained," Ongson said. "Pay attention to your body. It may be time to explore a new position or career if you have a bad work-life balance and are continuously anxious and overwhelmed."

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How to get out of a career rut?

First things first, it's best to think that a job is only one aspect of a person's life along with family, friends, significant others, hobbies, and many more, according to Ongson.

If you find yourself in a career rut but are unable to resign, Ongson advises finding purpose in your current profession.

"Make a list of what's most important. Make sense of work... Consider why [you] chose that profession in the first place. It's not always advisable to finish anything you started if you can't recall why you started it in the first place later on," she said.

"Treat yourself to small pleasures, and don't underestimate how satisfying it is to see small improvements," she added.

Here are some tips from Dear Future Self Philippines to regain motivation if you're stuck in a career rut:

1. See your tasks not as a chore but as a piece of the puzzle that will help you develop in your career or life.

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2. Focus on one issue at a time and reduce the enormous goal down into manageable chunks.

3. Examine your to-do list carefully and cut out everything that is both demotivating and unnecessary for you to complete.

4. Remember that it's impossible to be enthusiastic all of the time.

5. Take care of yourself. Set aside time to unplug and disconnect from the pressures of your job.

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