Reviving a Stagnant Career

By Tim Lutenski

In the modern world of work, no matter how satisfied we are in our careers or committed to our work, after a certain amount of time almost everyone experiences a period where work no longer holds the challenge or provides the excitement it once did. Generally this involves a “loss of self” in our professional lives; we tend to lose our passion and feel listless, inactive, and sluggish, believe we are not developing or growing, have difficulty maintaining motivation, and assume that our work has lost some of its fundamental meaning. Striving to overcome such feelings and reinvigorate ourselves so that we can again find passion, meaning, and work satisfaction can be a tremendous challenge, but also one that enables us to experience needed growth. When working with clients, as well as when dealing with the demands and challenges of their own careers, career counselors can successfully enhance vocational satisfaction and fulfillment by establishing the proper mind set, engaging in self-evaluation, reassessing skills, and taking action.

Proper Mind Set

You are responsible for shaping your own version of success and creating positive outcomes to form your best life and career. This requires conditioning your mind for success through visualization, discontinuing old, ineffective patterns of behavior, being willing to take risks, and trying new approaches. Harness the power of your mind and utilize mental energy for controlled, optimistic, and forward-thinking. Be willing to make the effort to recognize what is working, let go of what isn’t, take on new learning, actively explore options, and move on to new commitments.


To overcome career sluggishness and find a “new place,” get in touch first with your personal world and then develop a broader vision of yourself within the work world. Re-define and re-position your work roles by doing some soul searching and pinpointing sources of your dissatisfaction and frustration. Examine how your underlying mind set and fears are driving your reactions, understand the obstacles you face, and recognize your readiness for making changes. Write out what your ideal work would look like, however, avoid forcing things to happen and save your energy until you're truly ready to work on your own terms.

Reevaluating Skills

Those who identify the skills they are passionate about and who can effectively communicate these to employers, position themselves to find and engage in work which provides greater meaning and satisfaction. Know your skills and exercise good judgment as to how and when to use them in the workplace. This can allow you to build meaning in work, make job tasks more relevant, negotiate or simplify tasks with little value, spend creative time on meaningful tasks, and commit work efforts to better fit your passions and vision. Focus on core competencies - concentrate on developing your strengths, not improving areas of weakness.

Taking Action

Any significant life change requires that you do something new in order to experience something new. Many people who are floundering and struggling at work want to make significant changes, yet keep their same habits, patterns, and routines. Try to create a basic action plan which includes clear, realistic goals and steps to accomplish them. Track your progress by setting benchmarks and reward yourself when you achieve them. Determine strategies for getting where you want, the time involved, and the trade-offs you may need to make. The key is that you must initiate and take action – nothing will happen unless you make it happen. Some methods and strategies to refresh, refocus, and reinvent yourself include the following.


You can overcome a stagnant career and move forward by making small improvements, adding to your skill set, and being open to new experiences. It is important to be proactive in using these strategies, but also important to have a reflective and open-minded attitude set. These strategies can help provide intrinsic motivation and satisfaction, leading to a refocusing of your work energy, and a better understanding of yourself and your goals.


Tim LutenskiTim Lutenski is an Instructional Specialist at St. Clair County Community College and also operates a career consulting business. He teaches career based courses, workshops, and seminars, provides career services for individuals, groups, and organizations, and is a community volunteer who assists those with special vocational needs. Tim conducts professional seminars at conferences and for associations and organizations, and writes articles for various professional and academic publications.  He has an M.A., in Organizational Leadership and an M.A., in Counseling Psychology, with professional certifications in tutoring, employee supervision, training, leadership, career coaching, mutual gains negotiations, and community mediation. He can be reached at tlutski@yahoo.com.

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James A. Relken   on Wednesday 06/02/2010 at 02:10 PM

Tim provides us all a reminder of our role to improve ourselves. Taking on new challenges and climbing to new mountain tops, requires re-evalution and reflection on a regular basis. Making a plan and sticking to it will lead to new achievments and new goals met.
Thanks Tim for reminding all of us what is important!

Jim Berry   on Friday 06/04/2010 at 07:36 AM

Tim, what a great article and very timely too. In these days of 2010 and probably for the future as well, we can all use some useful information that allows us to keep a clear head and a purposeful look toward the future within our jobs and careers. I am glad you are working for us (our students) and appreciate what you do.

Vaughn Simpson   on Saturday 03/19/2011 at 11:46 PM

Grate article, excellent advice Tim

Kay Cee   on Saturday 12/10/2016 at 12:14 AM

One can do all of the suggested and get nowhere in a stagnant economy ruled by corporate greed. Hard work and good attitude will not overide blatant rascism, sexism and ageism that are the heartblood of modern day workplaces. Two Americas is a reality.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.