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How to Climb Out of Your Career Rut

How to Climb Out of Your Career Rut

By Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck
National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling CoachesSM


No young person ever says, "I want to be stuck in a career rut when I grow up," yet that is exactly where many working adults find themselves.  How about you? Is it getting harder to make yourself get out of bed in the morning? Do you feel like you are just playing a role as you go through your workday? Do you wish you were excited about your work instead of struggling to endure it? You don't have to stay stuck, however. Let's look at three common career ruts and how to climb out of them.

What's Your Rut?

1. You are unchallenged by your job. When you first started in this job or career field, you were excited to see what you could do. You enjoyed tackling new challenges, and found you were able to achieve great results. Gradually, however, you realized that while you have the necessary skills and knowledge to do your job well, there are no new goals ahead of you that interest you in the slightest. You feel stagnant, underutilized and unmotivated.

Action Steps: From a pragmatic perspective, take an objective look at your job, department and company. Explore opportunities for new projects, cross training, or assignments that would bring a renewed sense of interest and excitement. From a spiritual perspective, take time to pray, read and reflect on what God has to say to you. Boredom and dissatisfaction can be a way of God getting your attention to discover something new He has for you to do.

2. You constantly feel stressed. In this economic climate, many companies have downsized and given increased hours and responsibilities to the remaining employees. While grateful to have a job, you find that the increased stress is affecting you physically, emotionally and spiritually. You aren't sure how long you can go on this way.

Action Steps: Pay attention to your health. When busy and stressed, many people tend to ignore physical or emotional warning signs. If you are experiencing frequent physical discomfort, constant anxiety, unusual emotional blow-ups, difficulty sleeping or other symptoms, make an appointment to see a doctor. Don't wait until something serious happens; be proactive to help ensure you have a healthy, productive future.

In addition, take an inventory of the causes of your stress and identify any specific things that can be done to reduce either the situation or your reaction to it. If, for example, you feel you have too many competing priorities, make an appointment with your boss to get his or her input on prioritizing your responsibilities. See if any tasks or projects can be renegotiated or delegated. Discuss any ways you might be able to do more of the things that energize you and less of the things that drain you.

3. You feel trapped by your salary. You are burned out and longing to do something else, but have lived into your income and don't think it's an option to do anything else. On the other hand, you can't imagine being able to go on this way for the rest of your life. Although you don't know what else you would like to do, you daydream about living a more satisfying and enjoyable life.

Action Steps: If this describes you, God may be using your circumstances to motivate you to take a fresh look at who He has created you to be and what He is calling you to do with your life. What do you enjoy doing? What types of causes and needs motivate you? What brings you joy? The answers to these types of questions can provide clues as to what God has created you to do with your life.

You always have choices. The key to getting out of the money trap is being able to identify your real choices and the impact each will have on your life. Often, people assume that if they make a career change, they will earn less. This is not always true; in fact, when you are doing something that is in alignment with your God-given design, you may earn more money because you will be motivated to excel.

Called to a Life Above the Rut

You don't have to stay stuck in your particular rut. God has designed you perfectly to fulfill your intended purpose. He is not limited by your current circumstances, and will work through you with His limitless power. Discovering and living your calling, however, doesn't "just happen"; you have to take action. God calls you to take steps to do your part in changing your life, but promises to be there to do His part so that you are able to fulfill His plan for your life.

At its core, the motivation to make changes comes from having a clear vision of what you want to do with your life and having a "do-able" game plan for making it happen. If you desire to make positive, life-giving changes in your life, but don't know where to start, we invite you to explore how professional career & life calling coaching can give you the tools, guidance and support you need to become the person God created you to be. To discuss how professional career coaching can assist you, schedule your free consultation session today.


Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.

© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.