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Career Rut?
5 Skills to Get You Un-Stuck

See also: Continuous Professional Development

Most jobs have a repetitive side. No matter how interesting or varied the job seems overall, you're going to encounter times when you feel like you're repeating the same day over and over again. Sometimes that boredom can seem to take over the job experience for weeks, months, or even a couple of years before you wise up and realize you need a change. If it happens for long enough, you might even find yourself wondering if it's time to switch careers entirely.

A career rut can be especially dangerous because so much of your life depends on that paycheck. When you feel like you have to stay in a psychological dead zone just to earn the rent, you can end up feeling even more trapped — which only intensifies the rut and can make those feelings spill over into other areas of your life.

Before you reach a breaking point, take a look at these five ways to free yourself and refresh your enthusiasm for your career.

Build Your Tech Skills

No matter what field you work in, technology plays a role in your life that will only continue to grow and advance. Take some time to learn new skills or upgrade old ones that you haven't used in a while.

For example, if the last time you touched on web page design was back in the days before cascading style sheets, now's the time to learn some WordPress skills. If you think the apps on your smartphone are neat, this would be a great time to learn to create similar ones. And even though "learn to code" gets tossed around on social media as a callous insult directed at those who have lost their jobs, this actually might be an opportune time to learn to code, simply to become more competitive. You don't have to plan to leave your current job, but new employees joining the company will likely have learned some coding skills in school. If you never had classes like those, this is a great time to begin learning the basics.

If your current field isn't reliant on a lot of technology past the usual company computers and website, adding to your list of tech skills may seem pointless. However, those skills are still likely to help at some point in the future, or at least provide you with a viable side gig that gives you enough energy to crush that career rut.

Add to Your Skills and Certifications

Many professions don't require certifications or licenses to start working, but that doesn't mean you can't add a few to your resume, anyway.

In fact, having these extra skills can make you look more attractive to your employer when a chance for a promotion rolls around. And no matter where you find yourself, skills that improve your basic capabilities as a human will always come in handy.

One such opportunity is CPR certification; another is certification in advanced first-aid techniques. CPR, especially, has changed drastically over the past few years, with hands-only CPR becoming the standard except in specific circumstances. Having up-to-date knowledge of lifesaving procedures can be a boon in almost any field, especially if you're aiming for a supervisory role.



Increase Your Networking Circle

If your job is the type that relies heavily on contacts, then maybe expanding that circle of contacts could shake things up. Look into industry-related trade shows, conferences, and other networking opportunities. Among the people you meet, you never know who might turn into a potential client. Then revamp your business card files (and, if you're a contractor, your resume), and look into secure cloud storage to let you protect, organize, and access that sensitive info from anywhere.

Also start upgrading your social media profiles, from professional resume sites to the more general platforms like Twitter. A lot of job leads come from social media now and you don't want to miss out on those opportunities. The energy that you put into bringing new people into your circle, be they contacts for the company or clients for yourself, can lead to a revitalized career.

Take Charge of Your Finances

Nothing can make you feel quite so trapped as not having enough money to make a change. Conversely, though, nothing makes you feel quite so empowered as taking charge of your monetary situation and getting your financial ducks in a row.

To begin with, check your credit score (no matter how squeamish it makes you feel). Monitoring your score regularly is essential because it gives you a clearer picture of what needs to happen next. If your score is low, there are plenty of steps you can take to clean up any dings and help raise it. If, instead, you find your score already in good shape, then you’re free to start saving for retirement or making another smart money move. In either case, just facing and understanding your finances can provide you a needed shot in the arm.

Do Something for Yourself

You don't have to limit your revitalization efforts to just money and your career. A personal project — not an idle hobby, but an actual, beginning-to-end project that you plan out and execute — can give you that mental boost you need to pull out of that career rut. Find something you can immerse yourself in outside work hours, something that really lifts your spirits. It can be learning a language, restoring an old car, researching your genealogy, or any other project that, once you finish it, gives you a sense of major accomplishment and forward momentum.

Career ruts aren't always about the career part. Ruts come about when you stop attempting to move forward, and they can occur in any sector of your life and spread to other sectors. Career ruts just seem more obvious because you spend so much time at work. They don't always mean that it's time for you to leave that job. They just mean that something has to change, and you get to decide where that change occurs.

Don't stay in that rut for too long before attempting a change, though. The minute you recognize that you've stalled, that's the perfect time for you to get moving.


About the Author


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

Molly writes resources that help office and remote workers alike reach their personal and professional goals of becoming more successful. Follow along with her and her boyfriend Jacob on their blog as they pursue a nomadic lifestyle while freelancing and traveling across the country.

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