Feeling Stuck in Your Mid-Career? 5 Ways to Break Through Mid-Career Stagnation

  • December 12, 2023
  • Xin Hui
  • Jobseeker

You’ve worked hard for years to reach your career milestone but feel extreme boredom and anger instead of excitement. What happened? 

Career stagnation happens to the best of us, and it hits like a train. You were always focused the first couple of years working; you got your tasks done and even took on an extra workload to climb the corporate ladder fast and receive a good review for your appraisal. Yet, you only feel tired, bored, and unengaged. It almost feels like you’ve reached your limit in your career. 

Acknowledging your stagnant career is the first step to changing your professional life. Whether bored or unappreciated, several ways can help you turn your career around and return the excitement.

What is Career Stagnation?

Career Stagnation is when you lack engagement in your work or career. It usually happens when you feel you need more positive outcomes from your career or lose your professional skills. 

These are the signs that you are going through career stagnation: 

  • Regularly feel bored and think about quitting frequently. 
  • Your salary and title have remained the same despite changing jobs. 
  • Your performance reviews are never outstanding. 
  • You haven’t learned anything new in months. 
  • Your future and the future of your organisation need to be clarified. 
  • People who were hired after you have already been promoted. 
  • You often feel defeated or angry. 
  • You rarely see growth or leadership opportunities.
What Causes Career Stagnation?

Some reasons that cause a person to go through career stagnation are: 

  • No opportunity for learning: Your skills can become outdated if your current position doesn’t allow you to learn and grow. 
  • No salary increases or promotions: If you haven’t seen a salary increase in years, it can be a sign that you have stayed at an organisation too long. 
  • Organisational losses: It can create stagnation in your career and indicate that you may want to move and look for opportunities elsewhere. 
  • No opportunities for growth: If you have already advanced as high as you can within your organisation or if there are no foreseeable opportunities for career growth. 
  1. Set Short-term Goals 
    ​​​​​​​A goal is essential, but a big one might be too much for some people, especially those going through career stagnation. Instead of focusing on the goal for your future, why not set some achievable goals within a short time? The goal doesn’t have to include an achievement. Try set some such as completing your weekly task, doing research or sharing ideas with your colleagues.  
  2. Learn New Skills 
    It doesn’t necessarily mean you must spend money on courses to learn a new skill. You can volunteer for a charity and learn skills from daily activities like cooking, knitting, management or finance. Find opportunities through volunteering by offering your skills and expanding them throughout the organisations. ​​​​​

  3. Seek a Mentor 
    A mentor is a senior in their career and volunteers their time to impart their expertise and knowledge to their junior over some time. A mentor-mentee relationship can happen organically or through a professional program conducted by your organisation. If you need help with the details or need more clarification on the following steps, exploring mentorship opportunities within your field might be worthwhile. 

  4. Surround Yourself with People 
    Being in the company of individuals with a positive and proactive attitude can be contagious. Such people can energise and inspire you and provide support and encouragement to help you become your best version. This can make it easier to achieve your goals and enable you to think clearly about your future. ​​​​​​

  5. Networking! 
    Developing a solid network can offer numerous opportunities within and beyond your workplace. Sites like JobsLah, an AI-assisted job Website, can open you to more connections in the industry you’re aiming for. As you establish meaningful connections with others in your field, you may gain respect and become a go-to person for advice. Even a single valuable connection can pave the way for significant career advancement, whether within your current organisation or in a different role elsewhere.

Parting advice

It's important to note that career stagnation is a complex issue that can vary from person to person and situation to situation. Finding a way out of that professional rut may take significant time and effort, but it's essential to keep pushing forward. It's crucial to continue growing, seeking help, and exploring opportunities that spark excitement and fulfilment. Remember, you have yet to reach your peak, so keep striving towards your goals.