Are You in a #Career Rut?

October 20, 2019

© Carole Kanchier, PhD

A Job You Dislike Can Ruin Health, Happiness

Barbara worked for a large commercial furniture company. “Initially, I loved my work and felt empowered by my success,” she says. “But after five years, I lost enthusiasm…”

 Has your job lost its challenge? Is your performance deteriorating? Are you disconnecting? If so, you may be in the disengagement stage of your occupational cycle. You may also be experiencing changes in other life components.

My research on job satisfaction and career change, identified a three stage occupational cycle: entry, mastery and disengagement. These cycles range from five to ten years, depending on individuals and occupations.

During entry, you commit to the job, are enthusiastic and involved. In mastery, you strive to achieve excellence, build experience, improve skills and derive feelings of accomplishment, purpose and confidence. Disengagement occurs when you’re no longer challenged and growing. Enthusiasm, energy, confidence and productivity plummet.

Disengagement stages of occupational cycles often parallel transition stages of life cycles. Although we have our own rhythm of change, we generally proceed through alternating developmental and transition periods throughout life.

Transitions, often beginning during late adolescence and occurring each subsequent decade, are times for questioning who we are and where we want to go. During developmental periods we commit to, and work toward desired goals.

Coming to terms with developmental issues during transitions will ensure continuing growth. Staying in dissatisfying situations will result in stress related problems such as insomnia, headaches, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, burnout and depression.

Barbara’s disengagement from her position caused her to reevaluate career and life goals during her age-50 transition. She left her job for more autonomy and challenge with a different organization.

 Revitalize your life career

1. Evaluate and enhance lifestyle. Sometimes, other life components depress us. Poor health and lack of leisure or an intimate relationship may contribute to feelings of boredom and low confidence.

Identify sources of discontent. Find hobbies, volunteer, study or other activities that provide needed perks.

2. Identify satisfying and dissatisfying job facets. Note what needs your job must satisfy to make you happy. For example, is your job satisfying your needs for respect, creativity, security? What facets are making you dissatisfied?

In particular, identify whether your job is satisfying your needs for challenge, achievement, autonomy, support and feedback.  If you’re not getting these rewards, you won’t be motivated.

There is a cyclical relationship between challenge, achievement, confidence, goal attainment and satisfaction. Mastering a task pushes you to higher levels of competence, satisfaction and confidence resulting in greater involvement. Increased success, involvement and commitment lead you to set more difficult tasks.

Autonomy enables you to set work goals. Support spurs you on and fosters creativity. Feedback evaluates performance and gives feelings of accomplishment.  Your good feelings of success and satisfaction are called psychological success.

 3. Manage your own career. Take charge now. Don’t wait for a layoff or for others to plan your future. Create new opportunities. Know what you can contribute to help your organization maintain a competitive edge, and convey this to superiors.

Develop your own challenges. Explore ways to creatively redesign your job. Imagine how a peak performer would handle your job. Mark, bored with his Copy Center job, suggested his manage offer logo design services. This gave the Center new revenue and Mark creative challenges.

Participate in cross-functional teams to get exposure to other areas and also enrich your position. Advise key people in appropriate departments what you can offer. Show how you can contribute to the department’s bottom line. Identify jobs that require completion, discover ways to enhance projects, and offer management assistance and suggestions.

Know company happenings. Read memos, listen to rumors, attend meetings. Explore other company positions. Anticipate change. Network, read newsletters, job postings.

4. Explore news options. You have many exciting alternatives including another position in the company, a different organization or field, self employment or time out for travel or study. Consider downward, lateral or regional moves.

When evaluating options, determine compatibility with your mission, needs, interests, strengths and goals. Identify how to get started and how to minimize potential difficulties.

.Do what you feel is right for you, not what others think you should do.  Career growth does not always have to be up the career ladder. What may seem as a step down to many may actually be a step up in some people’s eyes as long as it’s towards personal and career revitalization.

Fred, an established engineering executive, decided to leave his position to do maintenance work where he could “fix things.” Fred believed he moved up the career ladder because he was “growing as a person.

5. Get out of your rut. Define a goal. State your goal in the present using concrete, positive terms. Know where you can get information and support to m the goal less risky. Take small steps, stay focused, persist and maintain optimism.

“It’s never too late to change,” says Barbara. “I’m glad I took charge….  Despite fears, I knould succeed.”

How can you improve your work situation? What’s next for you?

Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Carole Kanchier, PhD, will help you clarify life career goals, and develop a master plan for moving forward. Get a copy of Questers Dare to Change:

Author Bio: Carole Kanchier, PhD, is an internationally recognized newspaper/digital columnist, regispsychologist, coach and author of award winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life.  Kanchier has taught at University of California, Berkeley and Santa Cruz, University of Alberta, and other institutions of higher learning. Dr. Kanchier is known for her pioneering, interdisciplinary approach to human potential.