Ways to Avoid Career Stagnation

by Sachin

Career stagnation is a common occurrence among employed people who feel a lack of engagement in their work. In most cases, you will notice that there are no positive changes in your work, so you get the fear of losing your professional skills. Signs to watch out for include:

  • A strong feeling of boredom that prompts you to contemplate quitting. Despite changing jobs, your salary does not seem to change.
  • Over the months you have worked, you discover that there are no new things you have learned. 
  • You do not see any future with your current organization.
  • In most cases, you feel angry about everything at the workplace and eventually feel defeated.

Before you turn around your career, you first of all need to understand some causes of career stagnation. 

What Leads to Career Stagnation?

The workplace is dynamic, so numerous reasons can get you to the limit of your job. Some reasons are simple while others are very complex. It can be a case of compensation, a broken office machine, colleagues, your boss, or a combination of multiple triggers. You need some introspection to discover what could be the real cause of your frustration. Some reasons have been discussed below.

  • Lack of clear goals

In your entire professional cycle, there are moments when you can feel like there is no sense of direction. This state of mind makes you feel incompetent, hence you will lose motivation and focus. If you are disoriented from your path, you will definitely be disconnected from your career. Under this circumstance, you will not have a dream to chase, which consequently puts you at a standstill in your workplace.

  • Absence of challenges

Challenges exist to make us better as we keep pushing to overcome them. No matter how tiring they can get at times, they improve our abilities. If you are in a work environment that does not offer challenges, the routine can really get monotonous and dull. Employees will lack creativity and eventually experience burnout. Challenges will push you to think outside the box; before you know it, you are better than yesterday. Your intellectual drive will stay alive and keep your spirits high. The absence of challenges will keep you stagnated.

  • Understimulation

It is common for overqualified individuals to sell themselves short in a bid to secure employment. In this case, you will be assigned duties that are below your grade and potential. Unfortunately, if your skills are underutilized, there is no basic foundation upon which you can improve them or acquire new ones. Employees in this setting will not realize any growth, and their work life will be full of boredom.

  • Insufficient compensation

Many people seek employment for the sake of sustaining their livelihoods. It is okay to be motivated by money because everything has a cost. Employees will try as much as they can to increase their rewards. However, the urge to work hard will diminish in the absence of sufficient compensation. When your salary does not match your effort, you will remain stagnant in your career. This is a common and legitimate reason for workers who have committed their time and effort to their jobs.

  • Overstimulation

You may be recruited to work under a cranky boss who wants you to complete heaps of work every day. This problem can also be compounded by inconsiderate workmates who are unwilling to help out. This situation amounts to overstimulation due to the massive pile of work ahead of you. Too much work will influence your personal life and make it very difficult for you to balance with your career, and this amounts to burnout. Ultimately, contentment lies in the balance between overstimulation and understimulation.

  • Lack of appreciation

While money is the biggest source of motivation for workers, it is not the only form of compensation. Employees who are not appreciated in any way will feel low, especially after achieving a milestone. An acknowledgment will lift an employee’s spirit and keep them energized for the next tasks. Remember, money can help you foot bills, but your ego feeds on acknowledgment. A positive ego will boost your self-esteem and worth. Without appreciation, you will lose confidence and doubt your potential. Another way to remain motivated is by working on something you are passionate about. This way, the outcome of your work will be more rewarding than an actual salary. 

Things to Do to Avoid Career Stagnation

Career stagnation may be slowly catching up with you, but you can redeem yourself by living up to the practices below.

  • Set clear goals

Unfortunately, many people consider their careers as an income source and nothing more. They end up only accumulating money but never stimulating their minds. Create goals, whether short-term or long-term, and you will have something to look forward to. Priorities and plans will change with time, but you must keep setting new standards to maintain a sense of direction.

  • Adopt realistic beliefs

Success starts in your mind. If you have an objective to achieve, you must build some belief around it by acknowledging how hard it is to achieve it. Measure the difficulty level against your ability because this step will make the task ahead clear, whether you can manage it or not.

Assuming you have a goal that ordinarily would take two years, is it possible to accomplish it in one month? For example, if you want to study for an online MBA in management, you will need enough time to accomplish all the requirements of the course. A student who wants to achieve an MBA is expected to conduct a research project and defend their thesis. It is unrealistic that such a huge task can be accomplished within a month, however hard you can work. Instead, you run the risk of quitting. Your desire to achieve the degree will also diminish. This example shows that individuals must communicate realistic beliefs that will help them understand the difficulty levels of their tasks.

  • Constantly upgrade

The work environment constantly keeps changing. Regardless of the industry you work in, you must always stay updated. Step up your game by improving your current skills and building new ones. Learn the new trends to keep up with current affairs. You must show commitment to your goal by showing up every day to sustain your drive. If you have a very difficult task ahead of you, it should fire you up more and trigger your perseverance. Live with the thought that good things do not come cheaply, so you must endure to achieve them.

  • Surround yourself with appropriate company

Identify workmates who have a positive attitude. They will inspire you with their contagious energy. When you seem to lose hope and motivation in your career, they will support you and help you become a better worker. They can guide you on how to build a better future and make your goals clearer. Even outside your work premises, you can always build a network of people with the right mindset. It could be the local restaurateur, a secretary at your hospital, or an attendant at the supermarket. It doesn’t matter the positions they hold; as long as they have the correct mindset, they will influence you to pick the right career attitude.

  • Find a mentor or coach

A mentor is different from a coach, so you can choose either of them as long as you can get along. A mentor is someone within your career whom you look up to. They have greater knowledge and experience. If they are willing, they can guide you and pass their wisdom to you. Over time, you will build an organic relationship through a formalized program. 

On the other hand, a coach is trained to help workers set and work toward achieving their goals. Normally, a coach offers these services at a fee, so you can hire one if you can afford the services. Alternatively, you can enroll in a mentorship program together with other workers because it is cheaper. Nonetheless, both coaches and mentors offer incredible value, especially when you face the risk of stagnating in your career.

  • Learn a new skill 

Unfortunately, people associate learning a new skill with studying a new course back in college. While this can be one way to acquire the skill, there are many other ways. For example, you can begin as a volunteer on a local committee. You can then share your current skills as you learn others, like event planning and public speaking. This sacrifice will lead to greater opportunities as you will interact with board managers and chairpersons of committees. You will acquire administrative and governance skills, with the possibility of creating bigger networks. This new experience renews your sense of purpose, allowing you to excel in your career.


Career stagnation can adversely affect your professional life. However, self-introspection can help you unravel many things about your job as you seek a solution. Your decisions should be based on your values and develop a unique approach to how you handle your situation. Proper strategies will surely enable you to cross this hurdle. Change your course by testing your limits, and you will surely overcome all barriers that could be holding you back.

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