Are You Stuck in a Rut? Identifying Signs of a Personal and Professional Plateau |

Are You Stuck in a Rut? Identifying Signs of a Personal and Professional Plateau

I’d been doing the same role for a couple of years and I realised that’d I’d hit a wall.

Meetings were routine, the level of challenge had fallen off, and worst of all, I didn’t feel like I was growing.

I was starting to get that Sunday night feeling, that I had associated with stress. But this was a different type of stress. The stress of stagnation.

Maybe you’re familiar with that feeling too? It doesn’t have to be at work (though that’s the most obvious place for it to happen); it can occur in friendships, in relationships, in terms of personal growth, spiritually growth, health and fitness.

We can end up plateauing in pretty much any domain of life.

Here are signs you might be plateauing in your career:

  • Lack of Progression: If you've been in the same role for a long time without a promotion, raise, or expanded responsibilities, you might be facing a career plateau. Remember, progression isn't just vertical – lateral moves can also help you grow.

  • Diminished Learning: A sign of career growth is continual learning. If you find that you're no longer learning new things in your role, this could be an indication of a plateau.

  • Decreased Engagement: If you're feeling less enthusiastic or motivated about your work, it might signal that you've plateaued. If your job no longer excites or challenges you, it could be time to seek change.

  • Lack of Recognition: If your efforts and contributions are consistently overlooked, it might be a sign that your career growth has stagnated.

  • No Clear Future Path: If you can't visualise your future within your current organisation or role, or if there's no clear path for advancement, you might be at a career plateau.

  • Feeling Underutilised: If you feel that your skills and abilities are not being fully utilised, it may indicate a career plateau.

In your personal life, the signs might look like this:

  • Loss of Enthusiasm: If activities or hobbies that once brought you joy no longer do, it could be a sign that you're stagnating personally.

  • Lack of Goals or Ambition: Personal growth is often driven by a desire to achieve certain goals. If you find yourself without any personal aspirations, or if you've stopped pursuing your existing ones, you may be experiencing a personal plateau.

  • Feeling Stuck in a Routine: If your daily life feels monotonous, without any variations or excitement, this can signal a plateau. This is especially true if the routine doesn't involve new experiences or opportunities for learning.

  • Lack of Personal Satisfaction: If you constantly feel unfulfilled or dissatisfied, despite having no significant worries or problems, it might be an indication that you're plateauing in your personal growth.

  • Avoidance of Change: If you find yourself resisting change, preferring to stay within your comfort zone, it could suggest a personal plateau. Growth often involves embracing change and overcoming new challenges.

  • Neglecting Self-Care: If you're not taking the time to attend to your physical, mental, or emotional needs, you might be experiencing a personal plateau. Personal growth involves taking care of yourself holistically.

Whether it’s at work or at home, there’s good news when this happens though. Because  it’s a really clear invitation from life to up our game, to get out of stagnant energy and move towards the next level of growth.

If those are all the symptoms, what’s the prescription? Here are some practical things you can do…

  1. Set New Goals: If your current goals no longer motivate or challenge you, it might be time to set new ones. Think about what goals could stretch your abilities but still be achievable to keep you engaged.

  2. Embrace Learning: Continual learning keeps the plateau at bay. It could mean acquiring a new skill, diving into a new book, attending a workshop, or even travelling to a new place. The act of learning itself can reignite your motivation.

  3. Seek Feedback and Guidance: A mentor, coach, or trusted peer can provide valuable perspective. They might identify areas for improvement or growth that you may not have considered.

  4. Embrace Change: It's easy to stick to what's comfortable, but growth often requires stepping outside of your comfort zone. You could try a new role at work, pick up a new hobby, or seek out new social experiences.

  5. Self-Care: Physical, mental, and emotional health are vital for maintaining motivation and focus. As a quick audit, do you have: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep? A mindfulness practice can also contribute to overall well-being and help reignite your passion and drive.

  6. Network: Connect with new people both within and outside of your current circles. This can expose you to different viewpoints, ideas, and opportunities.

  7. Reflect and Reevaluate: Take some time to consider what's causing your feelings of plateauing. Is it the task, the environment, the relationship or could it be internal factors such as burnout? Understanding the 'why' can help guide the 'how' to overcome it.

The short version is that we all thrive when there is opportunity for growth. A life without growth can feel restrictive, dissatisfying and unfulfilled.

Take a moment to audit where you are in your life at the moment. Does it tick enough of the growth boxes? And if not, which areas might you need to take care of?

Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash