Get unstuck: 4 things to do when you’ve reached a plateau in your career

by Jan 5, 2022

If you’re feeling stuck in your job, you’re far from being alone.

A 2021 report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence surveyed more than 14,000 professionals and found that a whopping 75% of people feel stuck in their professional lives. Moreover, 83% of respondents want to make professional changes over the next year.

This data is in line with other reports studying the current state of the job market. McKinsey’s recent survey, for example, discovered that as many as 40% of employees stated they were at least “somewhat likely” to leave their current job over the next 3-6 months. What’s fascinating is that 64% of those ready to make such changes would leave without another job lined up.

These numbers say a lot. Most importantly, they show that people are far less satisfied with their jobs than we believe.

So what do you do if you feel like you’ve reached a plateau in your career? And are there any great ways to get unstuck? Let’s explore the four ways you can take your professional path into your own hands and reach new heights.


Be active about seeking out growth opportunities

If you consider the top priorities people have when looking for jobs, you’ll find that:

  • 88% of people seek flexibility
  • 86% want to work for a company that prioritises outcomes over output
  • 86% want to work in diverse teams
  • 82% feel like upskilling and reskilling will be critical in the future.

These numbers mean that it’s natural for you to feel like you need more growth opportunities. But the one thing you have to accept is that the only person in charge of seeking out those possibilities is you. Once you’re ready to do any additional work, you can move on to the research phase.

Consider what skills or experiences might help you get unstuck. For example, since 2016, many businesses have increased education requirements, which might mean that this is a great time to go for those postgrad studies.

Of course, you don’t have to feel like formal education is your only option. Even an online course in a skill that’s sought-after in your industry, or a new hobby, might help you uncover new job opportunities. So keep an open mind.


Reevaluate your goals

Sometimes, the feeling of being stuck doesn’t come to us because we’re not moving fast enough. It may just be our reaction to not being fulfilled by our work.

Most people go into choosing a career path depending on their ambitions. Then, while they hustle to achieve their goals, they fail to realise that those ambitions have changed.

So, if you feel like you’re not heading anywhere meaningful with your job, stop and ask yourself: have your priorities shifted? If the answer is yes, understand that it is completely natural (and a good thing). After all, people gain valuable insights with experience, so it would be foolish to let all that wisdom go to waste in a futile attempt to want the same things you wished for five or ten years ago.

Even if you find out that you’re ready for a new career path (despite all the hard work you’ve put into your current job), do not hesitate to go after your (new and improved) goals. Yes, making a career change in your 30s or 40s may seem scary. But if it’s the right choice for you, it’s likely to be the only thing that will bring fulfillment in your professional life.


Find a mentor or career coach

Another excellent strategy for those feeling paralysed is to seek out the advice of someone who has an objective view of their work path.

In truth, there’s nothing as valuable as an experienced, trustworthy person willing to share their insights. Your mentor might do this by teaching you about proven-to-work methods for advancing in your career, listening to your worries and offering feedback, or simply advising on how to move next.

Furthermore, having someone in your corner can be the push you need to tackle new challenges. And, it might be the tipping point that proves that you deserve fulfillment and happiness from your job. After all, you spend at least one-third of your life working. It’s only natural that it should feel like a meaningful way to spend your time rather than just a means to get by every month.


Put some distance between you and your job

Finally, if you still feel like you’re not getting what you need out of your career, you might need to take some space to get off of that plateau.

Try to carve out some time for you to travel. Pick up a new hobby. Take a break and do nothing but gardening in your backyard for a few months.

Distance is a precious resource that can help us reevaluate and reveal our priorities. Plus, it holds the chance of uncovering new or hidden paths we hadn’t considered before.

And even if you don’t have the financial means to take six months or a year off to explore the opportunities out there, it’s still possible to get away. Travel, for example, has become cheaper than ever. You can literally book flights to anywhere in the world that cost less than a fancy dinner. And there’s nothing better than visiting a new country than expanding your horizons.

And as for covering the costs of your self-discovery, fear not. As one of the (few) good consequences of the pandemic, more and more companies are open to hiring remote employees. This means that you can make a living anywhere in the world but enjoy the space you need from your current career path.

You’ll see, time off is a great strategy when you need to get unstuck. Even if all your exploration helps you realise that you’ve been on the right career path all along, you’ll have become reacquainted with yourself, your dreams, and your ambitions. And, you will know precisely what you need to do next to ensure the outcomes you’re seeking.


Final thoughts

As you look for ways to move your career forward (or consider possibilities for a drastic change), don’t think that you’re on your own in the way you feel. Everyone goes through the same process eventually – either on a professional or personal level.

What’s essential, however, is that you give yourself the freedom to explore the available solutions – even if they’re completely unconventional. Because, in the end, every single one of us is unique. This means that there’s no formula for a super-fulfilling professional life we can pick up and start applying. We have to figure out that equation for ourselves. And that may take some work. Fortunately, however, it’s work that’s more than worthwhile.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Natasha Lane

Natasha Lane

Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one huge geek. She has a rich history of working in the branding, small business, and career growth related fields, so she is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge all around the web. To see what Natasha is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.