7 Reasons Why You May Feel Stuck In Your Job

Perhaps you are waiting on a pay raise or other major change to revive your passion for the job. The nursing profession is brimming with career options, yet it is easy to feel stuck in a career trap.  Read on to learn 7 reasons why nurses often feel stuck and unable to forward. Nurses Career Support Knowledge


7 Reasons Why You May Feel Stuck In Your Job

Have you ever thought about leaving a job for something better but never put effort into "feeling out" the job market? Most of us have been in a career rut at some point and felt trapped in an unfulfilling job role. We wake up dreading the workday and literally countdown the days and hours until time off. If this describes you, it is possible to become "unstuck" and regain passion for your current job or move forward with finding a future job. The first step is to take a look at what barrier (or barriers) is keeping you trapped and career stuck.

You're Bound By Golden Handcuffs

In nursing, recruitment and retention strategies may include pay incentives that keep you pulled in, such as with sign-on bonuses or baylor pay. However, money that is too good to resist can become golden handcuffs that keep you in a job that no longer makes you happy, affecting your overall quality of life. In this case, you can work on an exit plan, a budget and timeline, such as "Over the next year, I will cut back and live on a budget to save money. Then, I will look for a job that will give me a better work-life balance.”.

Your Confidence is Wavering

Sure, there will always be someone else with flashier skills or with a different talent than your own. But, this doesn't mean you are less capable or your talents are not as important. Everyone, at some point, has compared themselves to their coworkers. Focus on your strengths while working on weaknesses to build your confidence and keep forward momentum.

You're Just Waiting....

Have you ever found yourself waiting "just until"? Perhaps you are waiting until your next evaluation to see if you receive a raise. Some nurses wait to see if "things get better", such as a change in management, better staffing or a work culture overhaul. But, the waiting game can lead to significant amounts of time passing with the expectations of change falling flat.

Not Sure What You Want

In nursing, there are endless career options and job types. However, it is hard to your dream job when you aren't sure of what you want. In order to move forward, it is important to ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • What do I want from my career?
  • What are my job "deal-breakers"?
  • What am I most passionate about?
  • What are the things I must have in a job?
  • What skills do I have to offer?
  • What skills do I want to improve or learn?
  • What type of work culture and environment do I want?
  • What is my expected salary?

You may find the article "9 Questions That Will Help You Find Your Dream Career" helpful, even if you just want to stay in nursing but try something different.

Your Job is Familiar and Comfortable

A simple Google search will yield an endless amount of motivational quotes about stepping outside of our comfort zones. Although you may be unhappy in your current job, you know what to expect during the workday... you duties and interactions are familiar. Most likely, you have working relationships with co-workers and understand all the nuances specific to your work environment. The fear of the unknown keeps us trapped in unfulfilling work comfort zones. To offset your fear, it is important to determine if your fear is based in reality. For example, you may tell yourself "I will never find another job with hours similar to the job I have now.” and never explore other job openings or career opportunities.

You Put Self Care on the Back Burner

If you feel trapped at work, there is a chance you are not consistently practicing self-care. Have you lost work-life balance and burning the candle at both ends? It is easy to lose perspective and motivation when we are mentally and physically tired. Try simple acts of self-care, such as meditation, going for walks, taking a class or relax doing something you love to keep yourself centered.

You Need to Expand Your Network

Talking to nurses working in other settings and environments may shed light on career options you find interesting. There are several ways you can build your professional network.

  • Online networking through LinkedIn or other professional networking sites
  • Reach out to your existing contacts to ask for help, seek advice or look for inspiration.
  • Attend a local nursing association meeting or conference

The goal of networking isn't just expanding your number of professional contacts but to also focus on a vision for yourself.

Are you feeling trapped in a job? If so, what is keeping you from moving forward?


J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education. 

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