5 Reasons You May Be in a Work Rut (And How to Get Out of It)

And how to identify, then overcome them.
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If you’re back in the office after a great summer vacation and already feeling like you’re in a rut, you’re not alone. Studies show that 70% of people are more likely to look for a new job after a holiday or vacation. But finding a new job isn’t always the answer. Sometimes you’re in a work rut because of your own habits at work and, the good news here, is: You’re in complete control over your actions. Here's how to get out of that rut ASAP, depending on what's causing yours: 


People who are depressed experience the world differently, according to this study—and that includes the workplace. Being depressed or living in a more black/white world doesn’t allow you to engage in the colorful experiences around you. Try changing you perception versus focusing on your surroundings and, if needed, seek out a mental health professional. Making your mental and physical health a priority will yield a high ROI—always.


Comparing yourself to the colleague that who got a big promotion, checking out the glamorous lives of world travelers on Instagram from your cubicle, and having a sense of FOMO is very real and very normal—when it happens from time to time. Women especially struggle with comparison (as Emily mentioned in her post yesterday!) and while a little inspiration never hurts, too much could hinder your own professional growth. Try keeping a work journal to track your achievements, make plans with friends where you put a limit on how long you can talk about work before moving on to a new topic, sign up for a new course, or listen to a profession development podcast. When you’re so busy thinking about what you don’t have or have missed out on, you forget to put your attention on the things that really help drive progress: pure focus.


We all get nostalgic about the way things were. That amazing boss you used to have, what it was like to work at the company when it was smaller, or even that work wife you knew had your back before she was reassigned. Yes, we all get nostalgia for the good old days but just like past relationships and the high school glory days, dwelling on the past doesn’t get you to a great new future—or out of work rut. I’d recommend rephrasing each sentence that you make about the past so it’s more like this: “We had a great boss named Molly last year who was really supportive and, while Nancy is new and still learning how the department works, I think her vision for our department will help me learn a lot.”


A surefire way to dislike your job, company, boss, coworkers, etc. is spending time with the unhappy coworker who spends her day gossiping. From the water cooler to instant messenger to after-work happy hours, gossip is like a culture vampire—it sucks the life (and joy) out of your day-to-day. Don’t allow an unhappy person to influence you and send you down a work rut route.


One of the biggest culprits for sending a person down a work rut is a lack of clarity around their purpose at work. Why does it matter that you show up every day? How does your job affect the bottom line? What comes next after you’ve mastered this skill set? This is definitely one of the biggest complaints we hear at Career Contessa and I’d first recommend you think about your career vision and what you want. Then, set up time with your boss to fill in any of the gaps (like how your role affects the bottom line) and get real answers around your purpose at work. Bosses love when employees take charge of their futures.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you stuck in a work rut? What are you doing to push through it? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Hero image via Architectural Digest.