A person’s career path is full of ups, downs, and pauses. Whether you are fresh out of school and about to start your first job, or you are a manager with more than 6 years of experience, each person has career goals in mind. While career goals and objectives may vary, people aim to move forward and make progress.
In an ideal situation, everybody would work at the pace they want, be inspired to work all the time, and achieve career objectives when they want. However, we know very well that this is not the case. There are times when you feel that progress is nowhere in sight. If this is how you feel, it’s called a career plateau.
What is a career plateau?
A career plateau refers to points in a person’s career path when it is difficult to progress. It can be described as feeling stuck at a position or a job, like running in place but not moving forward at all. A person who is on a career plateau may feel bored and struggle to find a sense of fulfillment, challenge, and excitement at their job.
Why does a career plateau happen?
Just as a person’s career path is unique, the reasons for a career plateau, how, and when it happens are unique to each individual. There is no uniform reason why a career plateau happens. However, the causes of career plateau can be categorized as internal or external.
Examples of internal reasons are a person’s confidence or motivation in their job, position, company, or skill set. They may no longer feel fulfilled or challenged by their role. On the other hand, external reasons can be company organizational structure where there are not a lot of opportunities to advance in position; or scarcity for senior management roles in smaller companies.
Sometimes, career plateaus are brought about by a traditional hierarchical organization structure that businesses use. As a person moves up the career ladder and becomes more senior, new positions may become less and less available.
No matter what the reason may be, a career plateau feels as if there is no room for growth in terms of career progression. Feeling demotivated, bored, or not achieving anything substantial are common descriptions.
How can you manage a career plateau?
If you feel like you are experiencing a career plateau and want to address it, pat yourself on the back. Having the desire to move past a career plateau is essential to managing it, and finding your motivation again. Sometimes, people may get caught up in feeling stuck by being on a career plateau that they lose the confidence to overcome.
Instead of feeling down and out about the situation you are in, keep in mind that other people go through career plateaus as well. It is not uncommon. Identifying the root cause is essential as it will lead to the steps that you can take to getting yourself out of feeling stuck.
Furthermore, take this opportunity as a way to get creative. If you are no longer feeling excited about your job, maybe it’s time to think about new challenges? Talk to a trusted colleague about it, maybe there are projects that you can spearhead, conferences that you can participate in, and causes that you can help through your skillset.
Consider your options. If you know it is right for you, look for work opportunities out there. Go on job boards, search online, what are available roles? Again, it is up to you to decide what route to explore. New challenges await you if you can identify them. It may also be a good time to learn new skills, train, and explore other things that you can be good at.
Career plateaus happen to most, if not all people. While it can seem daunting to deal with a career plateau, managing it is the only way to move forward from it.
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