No matter what stage you’re at in your job or career, it’s common to feel lost from time to time. When this happens, one of two things occurs. Either you recognise the signs that you’re coasting or you try to change the direction of your job as quickly as possible. Or, you hope for the best and continue to coast along in the hope that change will come to you and the situation will eventually sort itself out.
The reasons why our careers lose direction differ quite a lot. It can be that your job has changed from what you originally applied to do, or it can be due to you hitting the glass ceiling in your current role. It may be that your role had no actual career pathway when you started. The reasons why you’re coasting aren’t too important. Here are some signs that point to you possibly coasting in your career.
Time doesn’t move when you’re at work
We’re all prone to long days at work. Sometimes we just have days full of tediousness that can’t be avoided. So just because you had a couple of dreary days in the office in the past few weeks doesn’t mean you should consider your career at a standstill. However, if it happens week in week out and you’re finding that your place of work is somewhere where time doesn't move, it could be that your work isn’t stimulating or challenging enough – or you’ve done the same work too many times for it to hold any excitement for you.
You dread the work week every Sunday
Sunday evenings can be a bit miserable. The weekend is coming to an end and you have to prepare for the work week ahead. Once again – everyone suffers Sunday night blues, but if you’re dreading Sundays because the premise of Monday is too much to bear, your career needs shaking up big time. Your personal life is always a good indicator to how your career or job is going. Sundays are personal days – if work is bleeding into your personal day then you need to evaluate your career.
You can’t see your job going anywhere
Everyone always says you should have a five-year plan. Especially early on in your career. The job market is changing fast with more people job-hopping. Each job should have some future to it. It’s not always a progressive path full of promotions, but it should be at least developing and full of learning opportunities. Do you want to be doing the exact same thing in five years’ time? Perhaps you need the experience, in which case it doesn’t matter if your five-year plan is to do what you’re doing now. However, if you can’t see where your role is developing in the next two to five years then it’s a sign that the role is coasting.
You don’t know how to improve
If you were asked right now: ‘How can you improve your role at work?’ how would you answer? If you honestly can’t see areas that need improvement or how you can better your performance, it means you’ve stagnated in your role a bit. Do you have the drive and want to expand your career or job? Sometimes our job is just our job and there’s no need for expansion. Other times, there’s room for expansion of your role but you just don’t want to do it. Alternatively, your company may want to make some changes to your department but you’re pretty indifferent about it.
Lack of belonging
If you don’t feel like you belong where you are in your job, try evaluating why this is. Is it a company culture thing, or is it the colleagues you work with? Do you disagree with the ethics of the company and what you actually do? Do you talk about your role to people outside of work, or do you feel ashamed to talk about it? Many of us should have an element of pride in the work we do – no matter how boring it is. If you don’t feel like you achieve anything at your job or you’re not challenged enough to the point of feeling like you’ve made an achievement, then you’re coasting.
Generally, if you feel as if you’re stuck in a rut at work then that’s the surest sign that your career needs a move. Everyone goes through boring stints in their job, but if your role hasn’t moved an inch in the past year or so then your role is definitely stagnating. Perhaps you don’t feel as if you’re in control of your job. The idea that you don’t have any ownership over your job can make you feel stuck. Everyone needs to be able to make their job or career their own, and a sense of ownership is essential for that to happen.
If you can relate to most or even to all of the above signs then you need to make a change of career as soon as possible. If you’ve exhausted all of your options with your current employer (progression/promotion, moving around departments or trying out some further training) then you should start dusting off your CV and making some new connections with your job search. Good luck!