What is plateau? Bob Sullivan, author of The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success defined it as this in a Forbes article: “Plateaus, such as the force of acclimation, can be healthy and helpful. Your sense of smell goes numb in a dirty bathroom pretty quickly, and the noise of a subway behind your apartment dulls over time, because our bodies are trained to notice new things more than old.”* However, plateaus are not always a good thing. Living in your comfort zone for too long can hinder advancement either personally or professionally.
So plateaus can hit in your career? You bet! Career plateaus happen when you’ve been in your professional comfort zone for too long with little change or advancement. After a while, “the norm” can get boring, leaving some professionals feeling frustrated and less fulfilled. If you feel like you’re in the middle of a long plateau, there are things you can do to hop off.
Assess the Issue
What has been holding you up? Is your work not diverse enough? Is there not room right now for advancement? The “same-old-same-old” feeling could be coming from a number of areas. Take a look at your professional life to see what might be causing this. Who knows, something as simple as a change of scenery within your office might be a huge help!
Talk to Your Boss
After you have a good idea on what might be giving you the plateau feeling, you should talk to your boss. Your boss might be able to give you different projects to shake things up or even talk to you about starting your next steps on your career path. Maybe your boss won’t have an immediate solution, but he/she might be able to give you specific advice on what you can do differently in your day-to-day to help.
At the end of the day, getting off that plateau lies on you. Take action to reenergize your professional life! Switch up your routine, find ways to diversify your day and look for your next opportunity for advancement either within your current company or beyond. A career plateau can’t end without your willingness to change.
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*Dan Schawbel, Forbes, Bob Sullivan: How Plateaus Prevent You from Career Success, May 7, 2013