Feeling stuck in your job? Ask yourself these 5 questions to get moving and set yourself up for success

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This was adapted from CNBC's Work It newsletter on LinkedIn about all things work — from how to land the job to how to succeed in your career. Click here to subscribe.

There are a lot of ways you can get stuck. Last week, we talked about getting stuck in your job search. This week, we're taking a look at getting stuck in your job or career.

It's a common problem: You're not growing. You haven't been advancing the past few years. What can you do?

First, let's not look at it as a negative.

"I would frame it as an opportunity and a great thing," said career coach Natalie Fisher. "The fact that you're stuck right now means you're ready for new information. It means that you are ready for new knowledge. And ready to have a huge up-level in the next step."

That is some great advice. Instead of starting off by beating yourself up — about what you haven't accomplished, or what point you haven't reached — you could approach your situation with an open heart and mind, ready for what's next.

The first thing you need to do now is identify where you're feeling stuck. Then ask yourself some questions.

Get advice from 'a colleague you trust'

First, let's say you like your current company but you feel stuck in the job. You're not getting promoted, you're not getting noticed. You feel stalled out.

"[T]alk to a colleague you trust who is a few steps ahead of you in the organization and ask for their advice on what you should start doing, stop doing, and keep doing to get to the next level," said Gorick Ng, a Harvard career advisor and author of "The Unspoken Rules." "Bonus points if this person is also your manager, but I realize not every manager is supportive."

[T]alk to a colleague you trust who is a few steps ahead of you in the organization and ask for their advice.
Gorick Ng
Harvard career advisor and author of "The Unspoken Rules"

Make sure that you are visible. That you and your achievements are on the radar of your boss(es) and other higher-ups.

When you're first starting out, no one tells you about how you need to take ownership of your career trajectory by speaking up in meetings and making sure people in positions of power know who you are. No one tells you how to navigate office politics. But it's something you need to do from the get-go in your career to make sure you don't get stuck.

Wherever you're at in your career trajectory, it's important to make sure that:

  1. You are on the right ladder — that you know which position you want next and the one you want several rungs up from that
  2. You are getting noticed
  3. You are on track for advancement

Ng says asking these five questions can set yourself up for success at work.

  1. Am I aware? Specifically, "Do I know which behaviors get rewarded — or penalized — in my workplace?"

    "If no, compare the behaviors of the 'high performers' on your team to those of others," Ng wrote. "Bias, discrimination, and double standards are definitely factors. The differences you observe can also tell you a lot about what you can do to avoid getting stuck."
  2. Am I visible? Are you as seen, heard and known as others at your level? If not, Ng said, you need to get in the habit of introducing yourself to higher-ups, sharing your work, offering to help, etc.
  3. Am I intentional? A lot of times, but especially early on in your career, you may be excited just to get offered the job or be given an opportunity to try something new. But you have to ask yourself if you are really excited about the path you're on and the opportunities that lie ahead, given your current role.

    In other words, are you climbing the right ladder? If the answer is no, you need to rethink that. And you need to find the right ladder as soon as possible.
  4. Am I mentored? Do you have someone helping you navigate the system at work? If not, find someone who is ahead of you, ask them how they got there — and stay in touch.
  5. Am I sponsored? This is different from mentoring. What it means is that you need to know that there are higher-ups who will advocate for you — even when you're not in the room. If you don't have those people, introduce yourself to more higher-ups, volunteer for them, and do a good job so they want to help you advance.

Are you constantly complaining about your job to friends? Vent to us instead! We are here to answer all your work questions and concerns. Comment below or email us at

Don't worry, we won't tell your boss.

Feeling stuck in your career

You might realize that where you're stuck isn't in the job or this company — but in your career. Maybe you're ready to try something new.

Here are a few exercises suggested by Sarah Doody, the founder of Career Strategy Lab, who has helped clients land jobs at companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, Nordstrom, Spotify and Blue Origin:

  1. Do a retrospective on your career so far. For each role, make a list of the things you liked — and what you didn't like.

    "This will give you insight into what you might want to do in the future and what you may want to avoid," Doody said. "Consider not just what you did in the role but also the team, management style, and even company culture and values."
  2. Figure out where you want to go — and identify any skills gaps you may have.

    Divide a piece of paper into three columns. In the first column, write down your current role and what skills/experience you have. In the third column, write down where you want to be. In the middle column, try to identify what might be stopping you from getting that role and any skills, experience or other factors you may need to get there.

    "This will give you a road map of what to focus on in the future," Doody said.

The No. 1 habit that sets successful people apart from everyone else

When we're trying to get that job, get that promotion, be the best, our inclination is often to push, push, push. Go harder, faster, stronger than the next guy. Push past your limits.

While hard work is definitely important to achieving success, exertion is not what sets successful people apart from the rest of us, Sarah Sarkis, a psychologist and the senior director of performance psychology at Exos, told CNBC Make It.

It's recovery.

"We mistakenly associate success with constantly having our foot on the gas, and ... [w]e think we're lazy, unfocused or undisciplined" when we don't, said Sarkis, who works with NFL players, executives at Fortune 100 companies and other professionals who work in high-pressure environments.

The people who prioritize rest and recovery are the ones who are "at the top of their game" and "the happiest," Sarkis said.

So, if you're stuck — just take a minute and figure out where you're stuck. Is it this job? This company? Or do you think you just need to try something new altogether? Are you on the right ladder?

Once you get the answers, you can make a plan. And make sure that plan includes rest, exercise, meditation, a nap — whatever you need to do to recharge your battery and be at 100% for the next challenge.

— With reporting by Morgan Smith.

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