University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Feeling Stuck in Your Job?

by Rosie Barry

Even if you were excited about your job at one time, it's not unusual to reach a point where you feel unsatisfied or even stuck. Even the most interesting work can become mundane over time. Here are some common statements made by people who feel stuck and some tips for becoming unstuck!

My job is interesting some of the time, but I'm losing interest

Many people stay in jobs because they value some of the rewards, such as the health benefits, their friends at work or the routine. If more of your job becomes unsatisfying, however, you may reach burn-out, which has physical and psychological consequences. No job can meet all of your needs, but you can try taking classes to expand your skills or volunteer for new activities.

What should I do next?

A career plan will help you to avoid drifting in your job like a boat without a rudder. In today's marketplace, you need to set a career course for yourself that considers who you are and what is important to you. First, re-evaluate your interests, values, skills and goals. Then use this knowledge to chart a new course. Set some small goals and hold yourself to them.

There's no opportunity in my department

Perhaps one of the reasons you feel stuck is that you are only looking "up" for opportunity. Getting a promotion is not the only way to move your career along. Sometimes you need to look around more creatively. What new skills can be learned in your department? Also think about options outside your immediate department. Consider participating in an inter-departmental task force or committee. This will give you a chance to meet new people and add to your skill base.

I'm afraid to make a change

Change is inevitable. You can choose to let change happen to you or proactively guide the change in your life. A career plan can be helpful here too. If you have goals that you would like to reach, you can make gradual, incremental changes that get you closer to where you are going.

I don't have the skills or experience to do what I want to do

Getting started in a new area can seem circular you need experience to get the job and you need the job to get the experience. How can you get the experience to get the job? People who have overcome this problem say that creativity is important. You can look for a project in your department that will help you experiment with and develop the skills or you can do some volunteer work in the area that you wish to develop.

The bottom line to all of this is that getting "unstuck" is up to you. It's easy to hope that opportunity will knock on the door while you wait. Instead, think creatively to open doors for yourself.