Four Symptoms That You’re Stuck In Your Career: The Real Reasons You’re Staying Put In Your Job

Those two words might seem like a panacea for people, especially if they hate their boss, feel underwhelmed by what they do, and haven’t had a promotion in years.

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Despite a record number of job openings, though, people are not leaving their jobs in droves. In fact, the so-called “quits rate” has held steady at just over 2% for two years.

Have people suddenly fallen in love with their jobs? I doubt it—not based on what I’m hearing. One thing is for sure, it’s not because of money: The latest projections, for the seventh year in a row, is for the median salary increase to be about 3%.

The real reasons why most people aren’t making the jump are inertia and cluelessness. Finding a job, even with the unemployment rate under 5% for a year and a half, takes more effort than a lot of people want to expend. Inertia spawns rationalizations: My job’s okay — I don’t have to work that hard. A new job might not be any better than the one I have now…

As for those who might be inclined to make a switch, they are typically clueless about how to go about landing a job they really want. So they stay put, sinking deeper into cluelessness—with an extra layer of hopelessness.

4 Symptoms That You’re Stuck In Your Job

1. You’re addicted to the snooze button. Monday through Friday, you vow to get up with the alarm, but you hit the snooze button three or four times. When you finally drag yourself out of bed, your first thought is how late you are and how the day is shot.

2. Your last performance review lasted six minutes.You’re hardly a blip on the boss’s radar. Asked in your last review to discuss your goals, you struggled to come up with something. You haven’t had a promotion for five years, so you convince yourself that, in your company, it’s just not possible to move up.

3. You love your commute. Your train ride is two hours each way, but it’s the best time of the day—you look out the window, read a few more pages of War and Peace. Or you drive and traffic is a nightmare, but you love listening to Oldies on the radio. Besides, the highway snarls are a great excuse for coming in late and skipping out early.

4. Your lunch hour is anything but. Your lunch hour never fails to stretch to ninety minutes—and the food isn’t even that good. The only thing better than a really long lunch would be getting jury duty.

If any of this sounds like you, it’s time to eradicate these symptoms. Otherwise you won’t just lose out on a chance to change jobs, you could risk the one you’re in!

The Cure: Passion And Purpose

Without a strong dose of purpose and passion, your performance will be only mediocre at best. You’ll be doomed to be among the 80% who accomplish the 20 percent. And, you’ll stay stuck in your job, for as long as you manage to hang onto it.

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Recall when you were a kid and it was your birthday, or you were going camping or taking your first trip to Disneyland. By four-thirty in the morning, you were wide awake, so excited for the day to begin. That’s the feeling you need now! When what you do every day aligns closely with your values—when you know you’re making a difference to your organization and the customers it serves — you can’t wait for each day to begin. You’re up at four-thirty in the morning, without the alarm.

Rediscovering your passion and sense of purpose is the only ways to re-engage in your career. The good news is that there is passion in all of us, even if your last job squashed it. As you manage to reconnect to what you’re doing and why, your performance will improve. Not only will your current job become more satisfying, but you’ll improve your motivation — and your chances — to explore new job possibilities.