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Is Career Stagnation Eating You Up, While Everyone Seems to Be Progressing? This is for You

Career stagnation usually crops up in the absence of clear-cut career goals and could trigger sluggishness in one’s career growth or no progression at all. In this article, we’ll understand the signs of career stagnation and how to prevent it. Read on.

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Career stagnation usually crops up in the absence of clear-cut career goals and could trigger sluggishness in one’s career growth or no progression at all. In this article, we’ll understand the signs of career stagnation and how to prevent it. Read on.

Photo credit: wayhomestudio

Do you feel stuck, and as though you're going nowhere in your career? Has your job become a soul-crushing rut and has lost its spark, and excitement after a couple of years performing the same set of tasks and there's no career progression? Perhaps, the colleagues you began the journey with seem to be ahead of you. You hope that fate would at the appropriate time, propel your career to greater heights. But please, snap out of it! It’s time you considered the role of cause and effect as a major factor in career growth.

As an aside, but not unconnected with the subject—is the concept of change. The propensity to evolve and advance is in our DNA and our general orientation centers on upward mobility. In light of the foregoing, however, whether you’re in paid employment or a solo entrepreneur, there’s a solid and immutable commonality.

It is the longing for making progress, and whenever we are prevented or derailed from increasing our fortunes and prospects, we get very jumpy. We will dissect the causes of career stagnation and revive the chances for the growth and advancement of your career. Let’s dive in!

What is career stagnation?

Career stagnation is a general lack of excitement and absence of engagement in a person's responsibilities in an organization. It is usually precipitated by years of doing work that has become routine to the point of being overly simple and uninspiring. You dutifully complete your tasks every workday but you’ve been in the same position for too long, and you’re beginning to despair. Sadly, your mental tizzy and state of unease impact poorly on your performance and productivity at work and it further obscures and diminishes your odds for promotion.

But hey, look alive! It’s not all doom and gloom. Down the road, you'll learn to flip the tide of career stagnation and create a delightful future in your chosen area of endeavor.


The following are the telltale signs of career stagnation:

Boredom at work

Regularly feeling bored at your job usually stems from doing unchallenging and lame work. Your job is repetitive and does not invoke the exercise of your current skill-set and knowledge.

Static earnings

You haven’t had a raise in salary in a while. Your pay has been the same for a considerable period (a year or two) because you’ve been working the same position and performing the same tasks through that period. Possibly, your output has no direct impact on the organization’s profits and bottom-line and does a raise—at least not in the short term.

Lack of promotion

You have remained in the same role for quite some time and people who were hired after you have already been promoted. And often, it makes you feel staid and deflated.

No learning opportunities

Sure, you may be executing your tasks beautifully well, but you can do it all with both your eyes shut. If your current position doesn't offer a learning opportunity, you'd become outdated and no longer a resource for your organization. After a while at your current job, assess yourself:


  • Is there anything new you learned?

  • Did you learn any new skills?

  • Did you uncover a part of yourself that needs a bit of improvement?

If your answer is no, you are stagnant in your career.

Absence of opportunities for career growth

The future looks bleak and career growth is nowhere on the horizon for you. You doubt your odds of advancing in your career given the current financial state and structure of your organization. If you consider your current job and ask yourself, “Where will I be in three years, or five years?”, and there are no clear possibilities for promotion, what you have is a stagnated career.

Causes of career stagnation

Several factors can elicit stagnation in your career:

No opportunity for learning

When your current position doesn’t allow you to learn and grow, your skills can become outdated and you’d be unable to show the capacity to take on evolving challenges. Employers would likely pass up for a promotion.

 No salary increases or promotions

If you haven’t had a salary increase and/or a promotion in years, it can be a sign that you have stayed at an organization too long.

 Organizational losses

An individual's career can get stuck if the organization they're working with is experiencing losses and is on a free fall. If this is the case, you might want to make a move and look for opportunities elsewhere.

No opportunities for growth

Career stagnation can occur if you’ve reached the pinnacle of the corporate ladder within your organization or if there are simply no career growth opportunities in the offing.


How to overcome career stagnation

It's time to shake things up and grow in your career. Having identified the signs that your career is stagnating and its causes, there are several measures you can take to upend this professional rut:

Have a career goal

One of the reasons people don't detect stagnation early enough in their career is the absence of a clear career goal. When you ask yourself the question: “Where do I see myself in 3-5 years?”, and you don't have a good answer, you simply don’t have career goals. You only want to go with the tide. Setting career goals helps you to monitor your progress. State what you intend to accomplish in your career and have an action plan to actualize it. This will help you track your performance and career growth while keeping stagnation at bay.

Look for new challenges

It's easier to slip into a career rut when you lose enthusiasm for your job, and it becomes drab. You can walk up to your manager or project lead and ask for a new challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new role or a responsibility that would help you improve on your current skills. You can equally propose a new idea or take up a new project. You’d be surprised to see your new roles stretching you in new and exciting ways and creating growth opportunities.

Stay updated

Take stock of your skills and those required to be competitive in your industry. Identify the skills you know and have mastered and which you still need to learn. Individuals who aren't aware of the changes in their industry will find it difficult to cope in their profession.

Update your skills

Learning new skills is a part of an effective personal development plan and an integral part of career growth. Updating your skills is necessary to be a step ahead of the competition in your chosen career. You might have started with a basic certificate in banking or jurisprudence.

To be on top of your game, you need to acquire relevant skills and certifications that would help you climb up the ladder. A person who has something different from the crowd can advance more quickly. Improving your professional skills is one of the ways to adapt to industry changes and overcome career stagnation. It opens you up to newer opportunities in the workplace and job market.

Give back

Look for ways to give back, both in and out of the workplace. Identify ways you could give back within your organization. Perhaps you could help organize a company or departmental event. Perhaps, there are opportunities to mentor junior-level employees and hone their leadership skills. Taking the initiative to give back to others and your organization can rapidly get the attention of supervisors and alert them to your willingness to go above and beyond. You can learn more about leadership skills here.

Do some networking

Networking with people in the same sector as you opens you up to opportunities in your career. When you engage with people in your industry, you learn and become privy to information you wouldn't have known otherwise. If your current organization is going downhill, and you need to move to another workplace, your network will come in handy. You can seek out positions that have the potential for career growth. You can read more on things to do before looking for a new job here.

In conclusion, if you feel stagnated in your career, you owe it to yourself to act and upturn the situation. And this can only be achieved by no one else but you. The stagnation in your career can be a turning point to put things in perspective and an indication of the need to evaluate your current career posture to tie loose ends.

Written by

Tobey C. Okafor

Internet Entrepreneur and Content Writer based in Lagos, Nigeria.

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