Signs you're in a 'two-year slump' at work – and how to get through it
We all know what it feels like to hit a work slump.
Your job doesn’t excite you anymore. You’ve lost all motivation. Maybe your bored during the day, or you can’t imagine yourself trying to progress or get promoted.
This kind of slump can happen for all sorts of reasons, but it’s really common after you’ve been somewhere for around two years. The shiny ‘new job glow’ has worn off, you’re starting to see more of the realities of where you work, and exhaustion is starting to set in.
If you’re feeling that in your job – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to start polishing up your CV and scouring LinkedIn on your lunchbreak. There are ways to work through this slump and come out the other side feeling reinvigorated about work again.
Chris Abbass, co-founder and CEO of global recruitment company Talentful, has shared his tips on how to manage conversations with managers, goal setting, and lack of motivation as roles become more familiar.
What is a two-year slump?
When we start a new job, we are engaged, wide-eyed and challenged. In the beginning, this is manageable and contributes to our learning, but Chris explains that, after a while, tasks become more routine.
‘It takes on average 66 days to form a new habit, and sooner or later the things that once excited us can make us feel progressively disengaged,’ Chris tells Metro.co.uk.
‘For this reason, it is common for engagement and enjoyment at work to trail off around the two-year mark. Part of it is boredom as we settle into our roles and stop learning.
‘But we might also feel the slump if we lose sight of the objectives we had when starting.’
So, why does it happen?
One problem Chris identifies is the issue of stalled career development. He says this is a particularly pertinent problem right now after the pandemic.
‘After a couple of years, employees start to look for a new challenge,’ says Chris. ‘This is manageable if you have a clear idea of what it is that you want to do and what you need to progress in your career.
‘Company cultures that do not clearly relay the steps up the corporate ladder risk frustrating their employees.’
But Chris says we have to remember that employers are not solely responsible for your career progression.
He adds: ‘It is also important that you take accountability by setting out short, medium and long-term career goals in private and then reviewing them with your manager.
‘No company is perfect, just as no human being is perfect. But a good company is one you can see yourself growing at for some time. It makes you feel appreciated for the work you do.’
Another important point for Chis is to ask whether your company matches your core values and long-term career goals.
‘Do you enjoy working there? Do you have a supportive and inclusive community? Can you progress if you perform well?’ he asks.
‘Not all companies will be able to offer an immediate promotion. But having a clear sense of where you are going, what you are doing right and what you need to do more of is a good plan for avoiding a sudden slump.’
Signs you’re suffering from a work slump
After two years in a role, the priorities in your life and career will likely have changed. Chris says it is really important to regularly look at the path you are on and where you want to go, and iron out the creases.
‘If you no longer feel that the work you do serves your interests, it might be time to revisit your objectives with your line manager,’ he says.
‘Ask yourself: why did I take this job in the first place? Have I achieved what I set out to do? And what is the next step I should be taking?
‘At the start of a new learning curve, work should feel like a challenge. After a while, if you no longer feel the value, it may start to wear you down.
‘If your day-to-day makes you feel tired, burned out and disengaged from your work, you may be hitting a two-year slump.’
Early signs of workplace burnout
- You constantly feel tired, no matter how much sleep you get
- You feel increasingly cynical – about your job, yourself, and the state of the world
- You’re impatient
- You have a negative attitude and perspective
- You have no enthusiasm or excitement for work
- You often forget things
- Your organisation has fallen off a cliff
- Even small decisions feel completely overwhelming and impossible to make
- You feel like you can’t properly relax, even at the weekend
- You’re starting to feel detached from your life and work
- The quality of your work has dropped
- You’re experiencing regular physical symptoms of stress, whether that’s headaches or a nausea
Paula Allen, work and wellbeing expert
How can workers get through a slump?
Start by sitting down with no distractions and thinking about the job you want. It’s important to make the time to create clear goals and really focus on what you need from your job and career.
‘Analyse the things that you are good at, passionate about and enjoy,’ says Chris. ‘But also think about your weaknesses and the things that you need to get better at to reach your objective.
‘Then, write it down. Be open to feedback and follow-up. Sometimes you might think you are excellent in a given area, whereas your manager thinks otherwise. It is always good to get a second opinion.’
Chris adds that thinking long-term, scheduling regular check-ins and one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss progress and obstacles, setting tangible goals and reviewing your career path over time, are all important action points.
‘Without a clear idea of where you are and where you want to go, the two-year slump is all but inevitable,’ he says.
‘We all ultimately want the same thing: to have our work recognised and to feel we are moving forward. Often the first step is just a conversation.’
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