Being comfortable in your job and having a set routine to your work isn’t a bad thing, as long as that comfort doesn’t turn complacent and the routine doesn’t get boring. Even the most learned professionals and successful employees might fail to acknowledge stagnation in their career, even if it was staring them right between their eyes.
The benefits, amenities and the salary that comes with working a job are enough to ensure that we never leave our comfort zone to look any further, and most of the times, we fail to recognise such a situation, until we are in the middle of it. Although there could be several signs, big and small, that could point to the fact that your career is stagnating, the following are the most definitive ones:
The only thing you have to update on your resume is ‘Experience’
If you find yourself in a situation wherein despite gaining more practical and relevant experience, your pay and job title remains the same, find out why. The problem could be more acute if the situation persists even after you have switched employers, and your roles and responsibilities are the same, despite earning relatively more. Now, to be fair, salary isn’t the best measure to see how far you have progressed, but it certainly is one of the measures you need to watch out for. If, despite learning, growing and being more skilled than you were before, you fail to prove your value to your employers – something is obviously amiss.
Either your growth and learning doesn’t hold as much value as you thought it would, or, your employer thinks you bring nothing new to the table; both of which are scenarios that need an intervention.
You don’t remember the last time you acquired a new skill/gained new knowledge
When was the last time you felt seriously tested and challenged by the work you were given? When was the last time you learnt a new skill and were excited to use it? When was the last time you were forced to undertake some self-learning in order to complete a task at work? If you can’t satisfactorily answer these questions, you need to sit up straight and take notice. If learning and growing (company-mandated or self-learning) isn’t a part of your job, you need to make an effort to do so, for you cannot afford to be outdated. Furthermore, feeling proud – of learning, or executing a tough task, or achieving a challenging target – will keep you motivated and satisfied at your job.
Bottom-line is, if you have stopped learning, or stop feeling challenged at your role, and do not feel the need to update your skill-set and knowledge, you could be setting a trap for yourself – and inevitably be leading to the last point.
You are knowingly passive and lax about it
The toughest, and also the most important, to identify is your attitude and reaction to the above listed signs. If a certain sense of boredom and carelessness has crept in, and you find yourself caring only about how many hours you are clocking on the job, and you fail to see where you are going in your career – but are okay with it, chances are you have already become too comfortable to grow. The next time your opinion is ignored in a meeting, or you are passed over for promotion, or you get a ‘satisfactory performance’ in your review; notice how that makes you feel. If you find yourself frequently reasoning and arguing with your inner voice, that what you have is ‘Okay’ – and what you have going is good, be warned. If you no longer dread the feeling of being struck or working without passion, you know you need to make a change.
How to work around the stagnation?
It is one thing to realise that you need to start working out to stay fit, but it a whole different thing to actually work out to stay fit. Similarly, even after you realise that something needs to change, making that change can be a challenging task.
Here’s what you should consider:
Talk to your boss: Even if you are convinced that the step might be counter-productive, confine in your boss about how you feel about your work. Discuss if it is possible for you to make a lateral move to a new role, or increase the responsibilities in your current role, or if you could undertake a training to brush up your skills. This discussion, if nothing, will give you an idea if your boss can help you ride over this spell of stagnation, and can serve as a mentor, or if you have to figure it out yourself.
Review yourself: Take a day off, and honestly review your own performance. Self-analysis and introspection is critical at this junction to formulate your plan of action ahead. You need to be honest with yourself about whether you need to learn additional skills, take up a new job, change career paths, get a certification course or go back to studying.
Talk about it with your colleagues and friends, and check if they are of the opinion that you are not tapping into your potential. It is very important that you achieve clarity regarding why and how your career stagnated, in order for you to pick up pace again and avoid the pitfalls in the future.
Make a change: Based on your understanding of the above to factors, decide the best course of action ahead. Is it necessary to change your job, or can you work out an arrangement with your existing employer that helps you achieve your objectives? Do you need to quit right away, and then look for a new job, or would you prefer searching for one while working? Do you need to take a short course, or will getting a full-fledged degree help? Is there somebody in your network who can help you get a new job, or guide you in the process? Find the answers to these questions and stick to your plan.
Admitting short-comings and not being defensive about it, or admitting that we have become complacent at a certain stage, are a few things that we aren’t taught to do naturally – but learn with time. The important thing however is how you tackle the stagnation, and how you bounce back from it.
When did you realise your career was stagnating, and how did you deal with it? Let us know!