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Get out of your career rut

by Amanda Collins

While it’s always nice to be paid, sometimes work just seems to deflate us. Either you lose interest and find it hard to get out of bed in the mornings, or maybe you feel held back in your job, whatever the reason you have that ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling.

Here’s how to pull yourself out of your funk and find a new lease on life.

career rut

Identify the problem

The very first thing you need to do is work out exactly what it is that is making you feel this way. Once you narrow this down, you can tackle the problem and work on a solution.

Do you need to talk to your boss about adding responsibilities or learning a new skill? Perhaps you are under-resourced and need to speak up? Or have you considered taking a sideways step into a different department?

Break your routine

When you’re in a rut, breaking up your routine can really make a big difference. Firstly, list everything you do during your working day, include your breaks and routine chats.

Now, every day you are going to shake up your routine.

You need to start slow. Choose one thing each day to change up or experiment with. For example, you could go for lunch with a colleague you haven’t spoken to in a while, you could get up 45 minutes early and read a chapter of a book, or you could make a batch of muffins for your team. The possibilities are endless.

Get healthy

We all know that exercise releases feelgood chemicals in the brain. So going for a walk at lunchtime could really help to boost your mood and mental clarity. It doesn’t have to be a mad dash, just enough to lift your heart rate and enjoy some sun and fresh air.

Make sure you are also getting enough sleep, and ditch negative people from your life. You don’t need that. What you do need is love and support from your friends and family.

break the cycle

Unleash your creative side

Whether it’s painting, journaling, creative writing, playing piano, drawing, dancing or building something, you need to express yourself.

When you’re in a rut, you can feel a bit like a mopey robot. When you do something every day that expresses who you are and that allows you to be creative and free, then you can snap yourself out of that sluggish feeling.

Take a mental health day

If you are really feeling at the end of your tether, it may be time to take a day off work. Sleep in, make yourself a nice breakfast and then use the day to relax. Don’t schedule anything. This is your time to recuperate.

If you are really exhausted, take a week off. Go away, visit loved ones or enjoy a total change of scenery. It’s amazing what a break can do for your mental and physical health.

Add small bits of new responsibility to get you interested again

Have a think about new skills or responsibilities that you would like to take on. Choose things that will benefit you and your career. Then speak to your boss about gradually adding these new skills and responsibilities into your everyday job.

Make sure that this is a gradual process. You don’t want to overload yourself, remember this is about enriching your work life and getting you interested again, not adding extra stress and burden.

Have you got balance?

Have a look at your life. Do you have balance?

When you have life balance you make time to include physical, emotional, intellectual, creative, social, family and career pursuits in your weekly routine. If you are neglecting one area it may be the reason that you feel stuck in a rut.

Spend some time having a look at your schedule against a life balance check sheet. If you are neglecting one area, make sure you spend some time slotting these pursuits into your week.

What have you accomplished?

At the end of your day, make a list of everything you have accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back. Endless ‘to do’ lists that we never fully achieve often make us feel like we’re drowning.

Instead, spend time looking at all the accomplishments you get through during the day. You will be surprised by how productive you actually are.

Side projects

Break out of your rut by starting a side project. This could be anything from learning a new skill like sewing, to volunteering at a local shelter. You may even want to start up a nice little side business to earn some extra cash and boost your confidence.


Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. There is some truth to this adage.

With this in mind, it may be time to hone your networking skills.

Every day, speak to someone you don’t know well in your workplace, or your everyday life. You may want to get in contact with old friends, or join a club. The more people you network with the greater your chances of finding work you really love.

Research alternatives

Have a think about what you really want to do for a career. Think about what you are passionate about and begin to research how you can make that into a career.

Plan a path that will take you from where you are now, to the job that you actually want. Then take the necessary steps to bridge that gap.


It’s not the end

When you are stuck in a rut it can feel like nothing will ever change. But, as you have read, by shaking up your routine, adding some colour to your day and working out what it is you really want to do, you can break yourself out of your rut and start to enjoy your work, and your life again!

Are you stuck in a rut?

Studying a course with Open Colleges could be your ticket to a brand new career or the promotion that you’ve been after. Study online, at your own pace and get the skills you need to take your career to the next level.

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