4 Common Reasons People Get Stuck in Their Careers

stuck in career

We all have a right to the pursuit of happiness. So why does your job make you feel stuck in your career and robbed of all joy?

Don’t worry, it’s an extremely common feeling among adults. Identifying the reason is the first step to tackling the problem and developing a purposeful plan for the future.

A Bird in a Gilded Cage

You might get some strange looks if you admit to being unhappy in a lucrative job, but you’re not alone! It’s hard to turn your back on a hefty salary, regardless of the state of your finances. No matter how much you have, you can always use more, right?

Unfortunately, this leads to a few risks.

Some people accept high paying jobs only to find themselves in golden handcuffs down the road so called because, while they’re making great money, they lose their personal lives, hobbies, and relationships to 80-hour weeks and immeasurable workplace stress.

Others maximize the opportunities a six- or seven-figure salary offers, only to become dependent on the money and unable to accept a lower-paying job without disrupting a comfortable life, for both themselves and their dependents.

If this sounds like you, consider saving money and making strategic budget adjustments over the next few months to give yourself the wiggle room for an exit plan. Your job doesn’t have to own your soul, even if the money’s good.

Blindsided by the Job

Perhaps your current job looked and sounded perfect when you applied. You truly believed it was a great match for your skills, goals, and personality. However, three or four weeks into the job, the honeymoon has ended.

It’s common for employees to accept job positions without full knowledge of what their responsibilities involve. Maybe you’ve been forced into tasks that make you uncomfortable or told to juggle multiple duties at once; maybe the hiring manager with whom you clicked at the interview has abruptly left or been reassigned, and you can’t get on the same page with the new boss. Perhaps you just kind of hate the company culture and most of your co-workers.

Quitting on the spot isn’t the best choice, but it’s wise to evaluate your options and search for job openings at other organizations. Make sure you avoid being blindsided in the future by reviewing feedback on job sites like Glassdoor and asking meaningful questions during interviews (especially once you have an offer, as you’ll never be in a stronger position). Try to suss out the intangibles: the corporate values, work ethic, and types you’ll be working with.

Stuck in a Shrinking Field

Even the most valuable and well-paid positions can become obsolete, largely due to the influence of technology. The transition from print media to digital media and brick-and-mortar banking to online banking are prime examples of fields where positions are evolving, if not being eliminated outright.

If you specialize in a profession that was once highly sought after but is quickly becoming obsolete, it’s time to update your skills and refresh your resume. Even specialized skills can transfer to other industries and professions if you market yourself with the right angle.

Forgetting What Makes You Happy

We’re encouraged to put our feet on a career path in high school, long before we become adults and the decisions we make then can influence the rest of our lives! How many of us select a profession because we have to, or because it sounds impressive, or because someone could get us “in” not because it makes us happy?

Have you stopped recently to consider whether your career brings you joy? Does your job description align with your values, principles, and aspirations? It’s easy to put on blinders, collect your paycheck, and live for the weekend. But you deserve more out of life.

Have the courage to evaluate your priorities and search for a position that enriches your existence, instead of subtracting from it.

Learn how to save now and retire early: Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) Explained.