What do you do when “good enough” is a bad fit? It’s the plight of anyone with career inertia. After conducting research, Dr. Brent D. Rosso and his colleagues discovered that finding meaning in one’s work has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance, and personal fulfillment. And yet…

only 30 percent of the workforce in the United States reported feeling engaged in their work around the time those data were published. The remaining 70 percent reported being either not engaged or actively disengaged from their work. It’s quite a chasm. The situation has only grown worse in light of 2020’s events. A recent Gallup study found that 40 percent of U.S. workers have experienced worsening job quality since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some people stay in jobs for decades because they feel more comfortable with being unsatisfied than they do with making a change. You don’t have to be that person who has lost their passion for their work. You can overcome inertia in an unsatisfying job. Here are some tips to help you start.

Identify What It Is That Makes You Good At What You Do

Many people know that they’re good at their jobs. However, they can’t pinpoint the specific strengths that make them good at what they do. Being able to identify your strengths is vital for envisioning your success beyond a single job role. Isolating the strengths that make you effective in your current job allows you to imagine how those strengths can support you in a new pursuit. You will also be able to rebrand your strengths when “pitching” yourself to a new company if you decide that the fix for inertia is a new job.

Get Rid Of This Self-Limiting Belief

Being unsatisfied with a job for so long can make people afraid to dream. They begin to allow a limiting belief to take root that tells them that they don’t deserve to feel fulfilled, they don’t have what it takes to get in a position to feel fulfilled, and they will never find an employer who will agree to give them what they need to feel fulfilled. The reality is that you don’t know what you can get until you ask for it. Replace the limiting belief with a strategizing mindset based on believing that you can truly get what you want once you permit yourself to ask sincerely.

Learn To Equate Your Work With Meaning

For most people, the motivation for doing good work is a good salary. There’s nothing wrong with this mindset. However, there comes a time when no amount of money is enough to justify a level of dissatisfaction that is making you feel sick and tired. Many people who need change don’t pursue it because they incorrectly believe there is no way to extract meaning from a job. They assume that you need to run off to a far corner of the planet to rescue elephants or invent a world-changing product to have a career with meaning. Their minds can’t wrap around the fact that corporate jobs can contain meaning. In reality, simply learning how to frame a job role to find meaning is just as important. Before making a significant change, decide if your current job role does have some droplets of meaning that you’ve been overlooking because you’ve been bogged down by “the grind.”

For example, someone who works in financial services may feel unfulfilled because they only see their role as “crunching numbers” that have no meaning. In reality, the work done allows families to borrow money for home loans that will help them build their futures. Connecting to the source of your work can help to change your perspective.

Stop Doing It Alone

Career inertia leads to tunnel vision, which creates two scenarios. The first is that you talk yourself out of wanting more satisfaction because you can’t see other options. The second is that you make a drastic decision too quickly because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re unbearably miserable. Perspective is everything when overcoming career inertia. Make sure you’re getting some outside perspective.

You can’t snap out of career inertia overnight. Baby steps can help you to build momentum. Momentum may include adding one new contact every week, becoming a student in either an official or unofficial way, or simply telling someone outside your job about how stuck you feel.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.