Why Being in a Rut Might Be Your Greatest Opportunity Yet

Dear Office Mom,

I’m feeling like I am in a rut professionally. I have a good job in marketing, but I don’t feel challenged. I’m not dissatisfied with anything in particular, but I’m not motivated or excited and I think it’s affecting my creativity. I can’t decide if I should get a new job or stay where I am. I get conflicting advice from my mom (do not leave) and friends (find your passion). Do you have any advice?
— Sarah

Hi Sarah,

If you're in a rut, you're not alone. Many young professionals get in this quandary. In fact, it's likely to happen many times during your career. You don't want to stay in a rut too long or make hasty decisions to get out of one, but if you analyze your situation objectively, you may find opportunities you didn't expect.

If you're feeling dissatisfied, what is driving that feeling?  You may have outgrown your job, be in the wrong position, or dislike your boss but, if it’s general malaise, take a long, hard look before you bolt.  During my career, I found the same things that drove my dissatisfaction early on are the same things that drive it today.  If you want to do something different, or just be different, a rut is as good a place to start as any when you consider your career moves. Here are 5 questions to ponder and some ideas too.

  1. Do you feel dissatisfied with your current job, or are you feeling stagnant? If things have gotten a little stale, look at ways to change things up. Develop new skills and learn right where you are, right now. New skills and a new approach often helps propel you from the depths of despair.

  2. If you don’t feel challenged, or motivated in your current job, seek different assignments and projects. Projects often lead to new relationships, increased visibility, role changes or at least new bullet points for your resume.

  3. If you feel trapped in a dead-end job, confirm that to be true. Is there a career path with your current employer? Are job postings few and far between? Is it likely anything will open up within the next six months? Talk to your manager and let her know you are interested in new internal opportunities.

  4. If you move on, will you likely make a lateral move only to find yourself in similar circumstances when the sparkle and shine wear off? If so, you may want to stay where you are until you're better positioned for a promotion.

  5. If you’re feeling isolated, attend networking events and get involved in a professional organization. You may find that by doing so, you get a whole new perspective on what's happening in your field. You may find ways to expand your current role by recommending a new approach that helps the company.

You will have many career decisions to make, and only you can make them. You owe it to yourself to take your time. You'll figure it out. Good luck!


Your Office Mom