Vault and Firsthand have combined platforms! Learn more


6 Ways to Get Out of a Career Rut

Published: Jan 24, 2020

Topics: Workplace Issues  

Tired of the same work routine day in and day out? Who wouldn’t be? Repetitive work can make anyone want to run for the hills to escape the boredom. If you’re tired of your daily grind, it’s time to make some changes—ASAP. If you don’t, you could find yourself heading toward burnout, which can hurt both your professional and personal lives. A career rut is a dangerous place to linger. Not only can it prevent you from reaching your true potential but can also leave you feeling unfulfilled. Here are six ways to get out of a rut.

1. Pursue a professional skill or certification.

Have you been eyeing a certification or even just entertaining the idea of getting one? Maybe you’ve lacked the initiative to go for it. Give yourself permission to make a commitment to just do it. Seriously. Why wait? You’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. 

Expanding your skill set, even in areas outside your professional wheelhouse, is an excellent way to improve your frame of mind. Gain a certification in CPR training or safety skills, or teaching yoga. Even if you still lack motivation at your current position, once you’ve reached your goal, a new notch on your belt might lead you to a new job or even a new career.

2. Invest in yourself.

Another way to get invigorated is to invest some time, effort, and a little money into bolstering your professional reputation. Attending networking events is a good place to start; you’ll meet like-minded people with whom you can start building relationships, and you’ll get your name out there. And even though so much business is conducted online, it’s still important to make sure you have up-to-date business cards—or, even better, branded promotional items—to help your new contacts remember you and your company.

3. Get your money matters in order.

In 2019, consumer debt hit a whopping $4 trillion. Yes, trillion. If you’re one of the many Americans struggling financially, it’s time to take action. Personal money problems almost always spill over into a person’s career headspace. How can they not, when you’re worried about whether or not you can pay your rent or electric bill next month?

Even if you’re doing OK right now but are unsure what the future holds, you can still get your money matters in order. Start by checking your credit score. If you see any problems, take corrective action to avoid potential issues down the road. Once you’re confident with a healthy credit score, you can take a big sigh of relief and put the worries behind you.

4. Change your routine.

You can often escape the professional doldrums by making some simple changes in your workflow or daily habits. Begin by cleaning out your desk and rearranging it for either better efficiency or just a new look. Plus, here are some more in-depth suggestions you can present to your boss as a way to jumpstart your motivation:

  • Ask if you can adjust your hours. This could give you time to go for a run, take an exercise class, or treat yourself to a nice breakfast in the morning before you go to work. If you’re an early bird, see if you can come in earlier and free up your afternoons to do something you enjoy.
  • Request an option to work remotely. Even if it's just for a couple of days a month, a change of scenery, along with a degree of flexibility, might be motivating in itself.
  • See whether you can join any exciting projects. Explore possibilities outside your normal area of responsibility. You can learn something new by working with new subjects and helping with different tasks.
  • Ask about cross-training to learn another skill or job. This is a win-win because you can try something new — and simultaneously, your boss gets another person on the roster who can provide coverage when someone is sick or on vacation.

5. Relocate.

Relocating is perhaps a little more drastic than other methods of getting re-energized, but sometimes it’s necessary in order for people to really reignite themselves. If you’re looking to really shake things up, look at opportunities for affordable housing, better job options, or finding a healthy work/life balance. Do your research, put your excess belongings into storage, and see what adventures lie ahead.

6. Polish up your online reputation.

Clean up your online act next. Go through your social media accounts and clean up anything that doesn’t look professional or could be misconstrued. A side benefit: Seeing all your accomplishments collected in print may make you feel rejuvenated. And while you’re at it, try these techniques:

  • Revamp your online profiles by adding new taglines or photos of yourself.
  • Update your résumé if you have it listed on any job sites.
  • Freshen up any personal websites that promote your professional side, adding new skills, experience, certification, or anything else that makes you stand out.

If you decide to start looking for a new job, be it local or remote, it’s always good to be prepared. Improving your online presence is always a worthy activity.

Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad. She works remotely, travels constantly, and explores different cities across the U.S. She started her site as a resource for travelers, nomads, and remote workers