Are you in a career coma? Here’s how to tell

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Jobs offer security and stability. They allow you to earn an income, support you and your family, and help maintain a certain lifestyle and routine. This is great, but it shouldn’t be the only thing a job offers.

The right job for you will bring you joy but also challenge you, will allow you to develop a relationship with your boss and coworkers where they will push you when you need it, your passion and creativity will be ignited, and even in the toughest times deep down you will know you’re in the right job.

Unfortunately, it’s not rare for people to be in the wrong job, profession or industry, and while some won’t know this, most deep down can feel something isn’t right, but often choose to suppress it. If you are one of these people feeling disgruntled and trapped in a job or industry, then you might be in a career coma.

A career coma is an expression referring to someone’s career-making them feel almost unconscious as they roll through the motions, unstimulated and never progressing. It sounds exceedingly dull, but it’s not uncommon, in fact, more than half of Australians are unhappy in their jobs according to a survey conducted by Survey Sampling International on behalf of SEEK Learning. Even more alarming is that only a small percentage are actively looking to change their unhappy situation.

While finding a new job is easier for some than others, the most important step is acknowledging when you aren’t in the right job, and then working out what feasible changes can be done so you can take a more passionate and engaging direction in your work. In order to recognize whether or not you are in a career coma, here are some of the signs.

You’re in a dead-end job

If you aren’t progressing in your job then the harsh truth is that you are in a dead-end job. Having your ideas ignored, feeling undervalued, never receiving a promotion, getting shoved tasks that those higher up don’t want to do and overall feeling unmotivated, all point to that same truth.

Think about it this way; if you envision yourself in five years at your current company would you still be in your same role receiving the same tasks and still feeling undervalued? If so, then think about the impact staying in that role would have on your mental health and compare that to a job where you were challenged and appreciated.

Even if it’s not today or in the next year, burning out in a dead-end job is inevitable. Just like in school we can’t expect students to repeat the same grade year after year doing the same work and never being challenged. So you shouldn’t have to accept that in a job either.

You know you need to leave

Whether you are overt with the fact that you need to leave your job, or you choose to keep it a well-hidden secret that even you don’t want to come to terms with, either way you yourself have a gut feeling that it’s time to leave your job behind.

Maybe it’s because you need a challenge, don’t feel appreciated, dislike what you’re doing, or your values clash with those of your employer. Whatever the reason, staying in a job when you know you need to leave will only prolong a career coma and can have a significant detrimental impact on your mental health.

It’s not always easy to just leave a job or the industry you work in, so once you come to terms with the need to make a change, think about what will be required for you to move on in your career. Maybe you need to consider further study, or starting back down the ladder in a new industry.

You use your age as an excuse

So many successful personalities found their true calling in their mid to late adulthood. In fact, it’s not really until mid to late in your career that you really reach your peak. Think of JK Rowling, arguably one of the most famous authors in the world, who didn’t hit it big time until her mid-30s with the publication of Harry Potter.

There are so many pressures on workers these days, particularly those in their 20s and 30s since companies are in high-demand of young, fresh talent, that they believe they need to be at their very best and most experienced then. When in fact, it’s not until you’re older that you will truly peak in your career.

It may sound unnerving for young people out there but think of it as liberating. It means you have more flexibility to find what you truly love doing, and if you have already done so then you know you will only get better with time. Think of your younger years as a formative period, where you can explore different career paths that spark your interest. But always remember you’re never too old to make changes!

You feel like nothing you do matters

Are your mundane work tasks so mind-numbing that you believe it wouldn’t even matter whether you completed them or not? Or maybe you just have no interest whatsoever in what you’re doing that you wouldn’t care about the consequences of putting in a poor-effort, or worse, not even doing the task at all?

While we all have to take on boring tasks at work sometimes, this shouldn’t be how all your work feels. Your work should bring you some satisfaction, and your boss or colleagues should support you and provide feedback when necessary.

If you feel like your work doesn’t matter, then it obviously doesn’t to you. If you find something you love doing, or a workplace that you know appreciates you, you should rarely feel this way.

You’re bored and unsatisfied

A survey from Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, said that most professionals are unhappy with a “passionless job” and nearly 35 percent of respondents claimed that being bored or craving a challenge was their top reason for looking for a new job.

If you’re bored or unsatisfied in your job, think about this quote by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

A job you are bored with is not a job you love, so don’t surrender to what you are used to and continue to just run through the motions, instead seek out what you love. There is no cookie-cutter approach for everyone to waking up from a career coma, but finding what really sparks your interest and passions while it can be a long journey, the reward will always be worth the effort. Your life will be completely uprooted in the best way possible.

This article first appeared on A Girl in Progress.