Published On: Wed, Dec 20th, 2017

How to get out of a career rut

At the start of a career, especially one that involves a steep learning curve, most people experience a sensation of constant forward movement. However, a few years into the job, once you have mastered all that is required of you and you feel you have reached the highest possible level within the corporate structure of your organization, you may feel as though you are stuck in a rut.

Finding a new job that challenges you may seem like the most obvious answer, but it is far from the only option. Read on to learn about other strategies you can employ to help you get more out of the working day.

photo: photologue_np via Flickr

Evaluate the problem

If you want to avoid ending up in another career rut a few years down the line, it’s important to identify exactly what you find dissatisfying about your current career. Makes notes about all the factors you find bothersome and check to see if any solutions will allow you to remain in place.

If you still feel a move is the best option, you then need to carry out in-depth research into what potential jobs or career moves will be the best fit for you. Ask yourself whether you want to carry on in the same field with a different company or do something completely new.

If a complete change of career direction is needed, consider getting new qualifications by going back to school, either on a full-time or part-time basis. The massive expansion of online learning opportunities in recent years means you can earn a respected qualification while studying in your own time at your own pace.

Learning online can be far cheaper than studying at a traditional campus-based college and, in any case, you may be eligible for some form of financial assistance. There also a number of online colleges that offer laptops and tablet computers to students, either completely free of charge or at a very low cost, making it even easier to start working towards a new career.

Be discreet

The best time to look for a new job is while you already have one because employers generally find job candidates who are currently working far more desirable than those that are currently unemployed, no matter how well qualified they may be. The difficulty, of course, is that your current employer will not be at all happy if they find out you are looking elsewhere, so discretion is essential.

No matter how close you may be with your work colleagues, resist the temptation to share your plans with them in any way. Not only should you avoid hunting for new jobs during work hours, but you should also avoid using your work telephone, email address or even computer to make inquiries. Studies show that as many as two-thirds of companies monitor the internet connections of their employees meaning your plans may be unwittingly revealed.

Any good potential employer will understand that you will only be available for interviews before or after work or during your lunch break, and that you won’t be able to provide a reference from your current employer before being made an offer. If you get offered an interview, be careful not to wear anything that makes it obvious you are doing something out of the ordinary that day.

Launch your own business

Many people mistakenly assume that if they want to go into business for themselves, they will need a large amount of money behind them. Although this may have been the case some time ago, the vast array of opportunities available to online entrepreneurs means that the cost of launching your own startup are now easily within the reach of virtually everyone.

While your fledgling business may not provide you with enough of an income to quit your job right away, you can start out using the job as a form of side hustle and let it grow slowly until it reaches the point where you can dedicate yourself to it full time.

If your current career has given you specialist knowledge in a specific area, such as health and safety, legal services or green energy, you can easily start your own consulting agency. The only costs involved are those of creating a basic website – which can be done both quickly and cheaply using pre-existing templates – and printing up some business cards.

If your business idea would require more substantial capital to get it going because, for example, you need to invest in stock, working a side job could provide you with the extra cash you need more quickly than simply putting aside money from your regular work. Tutoring, blogging or working freelance through one of the many available platforms can all boost your income without requiring you to quit your job right away.  

Consider downsizing

If you have been in your career for some time and are receiving a good remuneration, one major problem will be the fact that any kind of career change may see you fall back to the bottom of the ladder.

Instead of simply evaluating what you do during the nine to five and looking for something to replace it so that every other aspect of your life remains the same, why not consider changing every aspect of your life. If you downsize to a smaller home or move to a part of the country where the cost of living is far lower, would you be able to get by on less income without sacrificing the quality of your life?

If you have been working for many years, combine this way of thinking with looking into voluntary redundancy or early retirement. If you choose to place far greater emphasis on your time and personal happiness than on continuing to climb the corporate ladder, you may find making such a switch wholly worthwhile.

Look beyond the job

Although in an ideal world, we would all work jobs that rewarded us both with great salaries and a constant sense of satisfaction, it may be that the skills you have, the place you live or the financial commitments you have made are keeping you locked in a job that is less than satisfactory.

In such situations, finding an alternative career path may be far more challenging and coming to terms with this may make you even more despondent. One answer is to seek more satisfaction in other areas of your life to balance out the lack of fulfilment in your day job. Try taking up new hobbies, looking into opportunities to do voluntary work with the elderly or the environment, or even starting up your own side-hustle business in a field you are passionate about but doesn’t offer much in the way of financial compensation.

Author: Carol Trehearn

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