Top 7 causes of career stagnation and how to solve them.

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Your career should fulfill you in all dimensions. But when it fails, it is your responsibility to initiate change.

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Photo credit: Thirdman

Career stagnation is a time-old tragedy, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. In fact, due to the rising statistics of people who continuously report dissatisfaction in their careers, the topic has been and should continue being taken seriously.

As a consolation, lack of fulfillment from a profession is understandable. However, it won’t help to dwell on the problem.

This article will be a wake-up call for you to quit complaining and act to change your reality. You will find seven possible reasons why you may arrive at the grim conclusion and declaration of career stagnation and recommendations for handling each cause.

1. Lack of/ vague career goals

This is probably a universal mistake because although goal setting has been overly-emphasized over time, many still take it lightly. If you don’t have clear goals, you may be operating in autopilot mode. You may be disconnected from your work and thus report only for the security and the paycheck.

Here are some guiding questions that can help you set clear career goals: 

  • What is your profession?

  • How many career paths can your profession lead you to? 

  • Which one resonates with you the most? 

  • What are your short and long-term career goals in terms of skills, influence level, income, and position? 

  • What does it take to get there (consider skills and commitment)? 

  • What actions are you taking/will to take to attain the goals?

  • If you have not been taking any action, what has been holding you back?

  • If you have been taking action, what is the progress so far? 

  • Which habits do you need to leave behind to progress? 

  • What will you do to leave them behind? 

  • How will you measure progress? 

Setting clear career goals and choosing the right actions are sure ways of jumpstarting your career.

2. Waiting to be noticed

Sometimes waiting is necessary and inevitable. But other times, it can be corrected.

If no one has taken note of expertise in your workplace and given the rightful compensation, you may think that you have hit a dead end, which may not be the case. Sometimes the individuals who can pave the way for growth are preoccupied in their duties or have a varying perception. That is; what may look like an exceptional accomplishment to you may not be perceived in the same manner by another person. This is the main reason why you should approach your managers when the need for additional recognition arises.

If you are having difficulties approaching the individuals, professional training on effective communication would help you to get the desired results.

Here are some of the questions that can help you diagnose your situation and prepare adequately:

  • Have you been waiting for someone to notice you? 

  • If yes, by who and why?

  • If you have been held hostage by fear, where does it come from, and how can you overcome it?  

  • What have you noticed in your surroundings or within your capabilities that can increase value in the company? 

  • Is it in line with the company’s missions, visions, and goals? How? 

  • How does it compare to your current company’s working strategy? 

  • What would it take to implement it?

  • What would be the results, immediate and in the long term? 

  • If implemented, how will the company compare with competitors? 

  • Are you willing to follow the idea to the end?

  • What skills do you possess that can help you to oversee the implementation of the idea to its fruition? 

  • Will you need assistance? If yes, what kind and to what extent?  

Making bold moves for career growth strengthens the confidence muscle. Your idea may not be welcomed immediately, but it can change the perception towards you.

3. Having high timeline expectations 

More often than not, growth is incremental. This means that awaiting overnight results in your career may lead to wrong conclusions of stagnation.

This doesn’t mean you should scale down on your expectations of upgrading to a new role or getting a promotion you may have been eyeing. On the contrary, it should encourage a side-by-side scrutiny of your capability versus the desired outcome.

  • What is your current position, and where do you think you should be?

  • What do you think is holding your back or could be done better?

  • What do you need to do to get there? 

Let your actions reflect your career goals.

4. Not having definite measures of success

How do you measure career success? Is it in terms of money, skills gained over time, responsibilities held, career title, outreach, influence, professional network, or wages?

Jobs offer more than monetary value; they also help in improving social status and expanding network. This indicates that focusing on one aspect, such as the financial value, may lead you to thinking that the career has hit a dismal end.

Listed below is a list of questions that can help you understand the multifaceted nature of a job and thus craft your way of defining success. 

  • Which are the different measures of career growth?

  • How do/ would you define and measure your career success? 

  • What was your career status a few months or years ago?

  • How is it today?

  • What have you gained over time? 

  • What have you gained the fastest and slowest?

  • What haven’t you gained even on the slightest bit? 

  • Why have you learned some skills more than others?

  • What would change if you examined career progression from a different angle?

  • How can you accelerate growth in all areas of your career?

By understanding the possible measures of success, you will know whether growth has manifested or not.

5. Negative mindset 

Mindset plays a major role in career development. When it is confined and negative, it casts a shadow on everything around you, making it hard to see any form of growth in your career. It can also make you see the grim reality and ignore the possibility of a better future. When it is positive and appreciative, it pulls in opportunities that would be beneficial for professional growth. It can also propel you to seek and take opportunities that guarantee progress.

Nurture a positive mindset.

6. Outdated skills

The skills required to excel in the corporate world are changing. This means that those who have outdated skills are at risk of missing career growth opportunities or losing their positions altogether. To cushion yourself from a job loss, determine whether your skills are still applicable in the job market, and advance where necessary.

7. Lack of growth opportunities in the company

Lack of growth opportunities can lead to a lack of satisfaction in your career. To rectify this, you inquire about the company’s goals, vision, and the opportunities that may appear in the future. This will broaden your scope of understanding about the overall direction of the company to see if your needs will be met.

It may also be helpful to seek professional career guidance. The knowledge gathered can help you to identify opportunities in your workplace and prepare for the future.

Final words, Your career should fulfill you in all dimensions. But when it fails, it is your responsibility to initiate change.


About the author.

Catherine Wanjiru is a writer, author of Layers of a Human and a personal development enthusiast.

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    Ben | October 24, 2020 04:07

    Appreciatable words of encouragement... Thank you and keep on giving us directions

    ONESMUS | October 24, 2020 03:01

    Thanks Catherine,very informative..

    DIANA | October 23, 2020 13:00

    Thank you Catherine. This has come at a much needed time and it has been very insightful.

    Jackline | October 23, 2020 12:51

    Thanks sis

    Fredrick | October 22, 2020 17:07

    Thanks a lot

    KELVIN | October 22, 2020 16:17

    Very critical points, thanks alot

    Robert | October 22, 2020 11:27

    insightful. thanks

    Tobias | October 22, 2020 11:04

    Thanks a lot Catherine. It's true inspiration. We should initiate change towards direction of realising our career dreams and avoid stagnation as much as possible though sometimes it's necessary for re-evaluation, redirection and reassessment before the next move. Thanks for sharing

    Bernard | October 22, 2020 09:08

    Thank you Catherine, your info has built my hope. Nurturing a positive mindset keeps the candle burning.

    Agaba Emmanuel | October 22, 2020 07:57

    Thanks Catherine, this is so great & insightful

    AMANYA | October 22, 2020 07:02

    Thanks Catherine, This been so helpful!!

    Brenda | October 22, 2020 06:30


    Okol | October 22, 2020 06:28

    This is awesome

    JEREMIAH | October 22, 2020 06:14

    Salute Catherine. Very informative and insightful to say the least, we truly have the power to make the change!

    Mugambe | October 22, 2020 04:57

    Thx for the bread of the brain will help many to change there mindset ...

    Justus Ibrahim | October 22, 2020 03:47

    Thank you very much Catherine.

    Emmanuel | October 22, 2020 02:43

    So splendid and motivational

    Nalumu Carolyn | October 20, 2020 13:31

    Very insightful.Thanks Catherine.

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