The time of year when a small animal pops its head out from under the ground to look for his shadow – Groundhog Day. Have you heard of it? We don’t mark the occasion in the UK, but the phrase is widely used. According to the Collins English Dictionary, ‘Groundhog Day’ refers to a situation in which events are, or appear to be, continually repeated.
It’s a phrase that hit the headlines in January when Theresa May was mocked by the opposition for dragging MPs into Brexit ‘Groundhog Day’ – when her proposed plan B for leaving the EU was accused of being almost identical to the original.
Outside of politics, the term is most commonly used for those times when life doesn’t seem to be moving forwards but, rather, playing on repeat like a broken record. Used to describe that uninspired, trapped feeling that most of us will have experienced at some point in our lives, career advisors are all too familiar with job seekers who identify with this American event.
If you are going through your own personal Groundhog Day (or even week, month, or year) when it comes to your career, you really should take action. Perhaps you can’t decide whether you’re simply moving along at a comfortable, normal pace for someone in your position or are, indeed, stuck in a rut as you fear. Below are some surefire ways to tell if your career is stalling and help you to decide whether it’s time to move on to pastures new.
Motivation seems hard to find
Do you feel as though your job has become routine and it’s difficult to keep yourself motivated?
Day-to-day tasks may have started to feel mundane – like you could do them with your eyes closed. The problem is, when motivation declines, so does your professional edge. When this happens, you aren’t using your full skill set anymore and will likely have already stalled.
To improve things, you could investigate whether there are opportunities to change your job within your current organisation. Could you transfer to another department or take on an exciting new project? Switching things up like this could be just the motivational injection you need. If this isn’t an option for you or the organisation you work for, then it may be time to freshen your CV and seek new job opportunities elsewhere.
There are no opportunities for growth
If you’re no longer learning new things, you’re no longer growing in your career. If you haven’t learned new skills at your job in a long time, it’s time to re-evaluate your current situation. Ask yourself whether the senior management team is truly investing in you and your future. Have opportunities for further training ever been discussed? What about opportunities for promotion? Training workshops, industry seminars, and sit-down conversations about your personal development are all essential to your career growth.
Managers aren’t mind readers, however, so it is always worth giving them a chance to rectify this situation by explaining how you feel and suggesting ways that could improve things for you. But if you haven’t previously received much support for learning, and can’t see anything on the horizon after having this conversation with your boss, then you’ve most likely become stagnant and it’s time to move on.
You’ve lost your voice
Whether you no longer have anything to say to your colleagues, or have stopped putting up your hand in team discussions, a lack of communication is always a bad sign. Perhaps you feel as though you’ve said everything you can in previous meetings and you’re just going over old ground, or maybe you have simply run out of energy to chit chat with Joe from accounts on your tea break.
Equally, if you feel that colleagues have stopped speaking to you, ask yourself why this might be. Has the perception of your role changed, or are you less instrumental in the business? Are you less friendly than you used to be? Maybe your colleagues are also suitably tired of chit chat! Whichever is true for you, when you stop speaking to your colleagues, it can be an indicator of a job where you no longer feel it’s going anywhere. This certainly isn’t a place you’ll thrive.
You no longer get praised for your work
Can you remember the last time your boss praised you on a job well done? Perhaps your boss has never been the type to say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ much, but if they used to give you this sort of feedback, it might be time to rethink your position. This could be due to a lack of motivation and enthusiasm on your part, or complacency on that of your boss’.
If you can pin down this problem to a lack of motivation, perhaps you could address those issues to solve this one. Only you will know in your heart whether this problem can be improved by speaking to your manager.
If any of these telltale signs ring true for you, and you feel that your career has become more like Groundhog Day than you’d want, now is the time to act before you find yourself still there in 10 years’ time. Assess your experience, skills, and desires, and start looking for a new job today.