What Does It Mean to Get Career Stuck? (And How to Stop)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professional fulfilment results from a sense of worth and purpose in one's profession. When you get career stuck, there are a number of steps you can take to help improve your work quality. If you feel stuck in your job, learning more about how to manage these feelings effectively can be beneficial. In this article, we describe what it means to get career stuck, provide reasons for feeling this way, and highlight steps to help you stop feeling stuck in your career.

What does it mean to get career stuck?

Getting career stuck involves you feel unhappy with your job without being able to leave the position. People can feel this way due to various factors, such as their finances, skill sets, or the work environment. It may be challenging to know what to do in these situations, but it's essential to remember that people can feel stuck at different points during their careers. Knowing the reason for this emotion is the first step in determining the ideal solution to follow.

Related: 10 Tips to Cope When You're Feeling Frustrated at Work

Reasons why you might feel stuck in your career

Here are a few reasons why you might feel stuck in your career:

  • you're unsure of your values and career goals

  • your work in a highly specialized role, making it challenging to identify transferrable skills

  • you feel you can't reject your high earnings for a lower-paying job

  • you convinced yourself to wait and see if a change can happen in your working condition

  • you believe you may demonstrate your worth to gain improved working conditions

  • you don't have the latest skills and knowledge required to perform your duties

  • you can't recognize the value of your skill set

  • you didn't understand the role when you accepted the position

Related: What to Do When You Are Bored at Work: 10 Strategies to Try

How to stop feeling stuck in your career

You can follow these steps to help you stop feeling stuck in your career:

1. Evaluate your skill sets

Knowing and appreciating your skills allows you to prepare for interactions with your current supervisors and potential employers. You can evaluate your skill sets by listing every ability you possess, even if it isn't relevant to your job. There may be abilities you use in your personal life that you haven't considered using at work. You can also examine your current and previous job descriptions to determine which skill sets you possess. Consider requesting feedback from dependable colleagues about your qualities to help you gain insight into how people perceive you.

2. Assess the position with your supervisor

If you interview for and accept a job, your understanding of the position might differ from its actual responsibilities. This can happen because of a misunderstanding or your employer's changing demands. If you find yourself in a position that isn't a good match, you can speak with your supervisor about how to make it a better fit. You can also discuss what tasks and responsibilities can make you happier.

Related: What Is a Job Position? (And How to Include on a Resume)

3. Evaluate your career goals and value

Assessing what you truly desire from your profession is an effective step to take to make a change. You can examine how you want your work and personal life to be in the future. Consider if your current employment can give you the lifestyle you desire or whether a change is necessary. For example, if you hope to attain a senior position in your career in two years, you can start working toward that goal.

You can consider your principles and values and check if they align with the organization. Your values may include community service, a supportive working environment, and environmental projects. These are essential considerations to check if you want to move organizations or change your career. If you understand that the organization aligns with your goals and values but you still feel stuck, you can try exploring a new career path.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

4. Identify your strengths

You can create a list of your strengths to help you identify what you're good at doing. Include your interpersonal and technical talents on the list. You can also highlight the quality that makes you valuable to your present or future job. Consider which skills you appreciate the most as you compile this list. This might help you identify if you're stuck because you're no longer performing the duties you enjoy or the tasks that initially attracted you to the position. Consider asking your manager how you may include these tasks in your daily schedule.

Related: How to Conduct a Skills Inventory (With Steps and Benefits)

5. Build your confidence

If you feel stuck, it might affect your self-confidence. Increasing your confidence can help you discuss your feelings with your supervisor effectively. It can allow you to request a promotion, meet with your manager to discuss new opportunities, and apply for other jobs. You can improve your self-confidence by:

  • developing positive stress and anxiety coping skills

  • engaging in positive self-talk

  • exercising

  • trying a new hobby, such as singing or drawing

  • dressing more professionally for work

6. Create personal goals

It's beneficial to select goals that you feel motivated to achieve. You can achieve this by establishing goals that correspond with your life priorities. This can help you make the change you require to stop feeling stuck. Consider creating SMART goals to help. Here's what SMART goals means:

  • Specific: Establishing a goal you intend to pursue and setting milestones can be beneficial. As you assess your goals, consider when they may occur, where they can occur, and what you eventually wish to achieve.

  • Measurable: You can include specific dates, quantities, and other information in your goals to evaluate your progress toward achieving them. For example, if you want a salary increase, you can specify how much you want your salary to increase.

  • Attainable: If your goal is attainable and challenging, it can build your confidence and inspire you to pursue more challenging goals. Setting attainable goals can help you feel fulfilled.

  • Relevant: Establishing goals that relate to the career or personal interests you wish to pursue is beneficial. Consider setting goals that meet your needs, and ensure you have the required resources to achieve them.

  • Time-based: By establishing a deadline, you generate a feeling of urgency and increase the chances of reaching your objective in less time. You can also utilize the timeline to reevaluate your plan if you can't reach your target by the specified date.

Related: Setting Communication Goals Using the Smart Method

7. Get inspired

Inspiration can stimulate the creativity and motivation required to make significant personal or professional changes. To help you stop feeling stuck, research ways to feel inspired. Examples of ideas that can help you feel inspired include:

  • reading inspirational books or listening to podcasts on self-improvement

  • performing yoga and meditation

  • reconnecting with old friends

  • doing something you formerly enjoyed

  • participating in a new hobby, such as coaching young soccer or ballroom dancing

Related: 51 Inspirational Quotes on Opportunities to Motivate You

8. Find a mentor

You may feel less burdened by your complaints and worries after discussing them with someone. You can find someone you admire who experienced similar struggles and who's willing to be open with you. Consider working with a professional mentor, career counsellor, or life coach to help you understand why you feel stuck in your career.

9. Gain new skills and knowledge

You can leave your comfort zone by obtaining a new skill. For example, you can consider enrolling in an online course to learn new computer software, a coding workshop for beginners, or a leadership program. Gaining new information and abilities can help you advance your career, whether at your current organization or at a new one. You can consider returning to school if you decide to follow a different career path. You may earn a bachelor's degree to begin working in a new field or a master's degree for managerial positions.

Related: 9 Ways to Gain Business Knowledge (With Business Skills)

10. Expand your social network

Having a diverse social network can help you advance in your career. It helps you create connections with experts from various industries and positions. You can use your networks to:

  • explore employment opportunities

  • share your expertise

  • collaborate on ideas

  • ask for advice

  • learn about various industries and organizations

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