What to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck at Work

Korin Miller
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Photo: STYLECASTER/Getty Images

Being at work is never going to be as much fun as… anything else. But still, it’s important to feel like you’re invested in your work, and amazing if you actually love what you do.

Unfortunately, sometimes you can just feel stuck at work. You don’t feel like you’re moving forward, and you just feel blah about the whole thing. First, know this: It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck at work, especially if you’ve been in the same role for a while or keep facing seemingly tough work projects, says executive coach Lori Scherwin, founder of the New York City-based career consulting firm Strategize That.

Luckily, knowing that you feel stuck is half the battle, says career coach Carlota Zimmerman—once you know things don’t feel right, you can actually do something about it. Of course, knowing that things need to change and actually doing something to change them are two different things.

Here are a few moves you can make when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere at work.

Pinpoint the Cause

It’s easy to blame your job (and that might actually be why you’re feeling stuck), but plenty of people in high-powered roles feel this way, too, Zimmerman says. Instead, try to dive into the nuances of why you feel this way. Maybe you’re simply too used to your daily responsibilities and need a change, or you need a role where you get more acknowledgment. Regardless, it’s important to know your needs so you can find a way to get them met.

Take a Breather

“Often people get stressed because they feel they have too much to do with increasing demands, which in turn leads them to work harder and do more, adding even more stress in the process,” Scherwin says. So take a moment to make sure things are done right—not ASAP—if you’re feeling overloaded, or just give yourself a timeout to make sure you’re able to recharge your batteries. That might mean going for a quick walk around the block or actually taking a vacation from work. “It’s possible you will feel differently after time away,” Scherwin says. “You’ll come back with a clearer mind about what you want to do next.”

MORE: 5 Questions to Help You Figure Out if You’re in the Right Career

Consider Your Awesomeness

You can also make a list of all of your recent accomplishments if you need a reminder. “You’ll realize there’s more ammo than you initially thought to help bring out your best traits and quiet or combat the negative inner voice about the process,” Scherwin says.

Reflect on the Last Time You Felt This Way

Everybody has had some moment where they felt meh about something, whether it was school or life in general. That’s why it’s important to reflect on what you did to improve things last time you were in this situation, Scherwin says. Maybe a little tweak made a huge difference or you needed to do something drastic to mix things up. Either way, your past can help clue you in to what can help now.

Suggest Some Changes for Your Role

If upward mobility is tough at your job, see what you can do to expand your role. Consider what changes you’d like to see in your job that could also benefit the company, Zimmerman says. Then, put them into a proposal and present them to your boss.

Job Hunt

You know your situation best and, if you feel like nothing is going to improve at your current gig, you can start looking for something new. A good way to figure out if this the right move for you, per Zimmerman: If you find yourself getting excited by the idea of something new. Just make sure you know what you want out of a new job, and how to actually achieve it. “You up your chances of finding a great new role if you can be specific in articulating what it is you are looking for,” Scherwin says.

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