5 Signs You’re Just Going With the Flow at Work (and Hurting Your Career in the Process)
Remember how eager you were when you started your current job? Maybe you showed up to your very first team meeting and immediately volunteered for a special project. Or you developed a new process to replace an inefficient one that had been in place for years. Or you brought a fun team tradition to an organization that had an unbelievably dull company culture.
It’s that kind of boldness that can advance your career, because it proves that you want to make a difference, you care about the company’s effectiveness and efficiency, and you’re dedicated to the organization’s success.
But over time, that audacity can fade. You get comfortable in your position, and just like that, you’re floating along with the rest of the workforce—not necessarily doing anything wrong, but certainly not striving to stand out. In short, you’ve grown complacent.
Have you lost that drive to succeed? Here are a few telltale signs that your spark is gone—and what you can do to get it back.
1. You’ve Stopped Sharing Your Ideas
Maybe when you first started your current role, you were intent on making an impact—so when you spotted an inefficient process or came up with an innovative new way to approach a project, you eagerly shared it with your boss and team.
But now, it’s easier to go with the flow. Maybe your ideas were met with resistance too many times, or maybe you simply fell into the team’s long-established processes, and now it seems that any change would be an unnecessary burden for yourself and your team.
You may feel completely competent within your current workflows, but if you’re not constantly looking for ways to improve, it’s clear that you’ve lost some drive to succeed.
2. You Don’t Speak Up When You Disagree
When you’re eager to succeed, you often want to let your voice be heard and opinions be known. And so, you enthusiastically speak up if someone presents a project or idea that you don’t think will work.
But maybe your dissent never got the reaction you wanted. Perhaps no one else on your team agreed with you—or at least, the decision-makers didn’t agree with you—so the flawed project moved forward without any regard to the points you made. And no matter how often you spoke your mind, no one seemed to listen.
Now, instead of looking out for your teammates’ best interests, you have an attitude of “if they want to make bad decisions, let them; they’ll get what’s coming to them.”
3. You’re No Longer Interested in Staying Current
Is everyone else in your industry learning to code, while you’re not convinced that you need to learn anything beyond Microsoft Word? Are you opting out of conferences and other events that would keep you up to date on important knowledge and tends in your industry?
When you feel a little too smug in your position, it’s easy to let your job knowledge slip. If you’re able to meet expectations in current role, why would you spend valuable time and money learning new skills or striving to stay on top of industry updates?
4. You Don’t Take Initiative
Think back to your first few weeks on the job. Any time anyone asked you to do anything, you got it done—with time to spare. You turned in assignments ahead of deadlines, you volunteered to help co-workers with their projects, and you asked your manager for added responsibility.
Now, things have changed. You’ve settled into your routine—but you’ve also grown a little lax. Instead of working ahead on your to-do list, you let your responsibilities pile up until the last minute. You don’t have the time or, frankly, the motivation to ask if there’s anything you can do to help your colleagues or manager.
5. You’re Not Motivated to Advance Your Career
There was a time when you felt like the professional world was at your fingertips. You were eager to rise to the top of your career, so you looked for every opportunity to advance—whether that meant proactively asking for a salary review or applying for a new position within the company the minute you saw it posted.
Then, things got comfortable within your current role. You know how to do your job—and do it well—so why apply for that newly vacant manger position that would require much more responsibility? Now, it’s easier to simply meet the requirements of your position and nothing more.
If these sound familiar, you may be bordering on complacency in your current role. So what’s the fix? It depends on your unique situation. For example, if your day-to-day routine is simply feeling stale, there are plenty of ways to make it feel fresh again—try these seven.
However, it’s also important to recognize when your complacency is a sign that you’ve grown beyond your current role or that your company culture is hindering your growth—by, for instance, discouraging new ideas or dissent. In that case, it may be time to start looking for a role in a company that will challenge you and bring back your original tenacity.
But one thing is for sure: If you allow yourself to remain complacent, you’re likely going to grow dissatisfied while your performance suffers. For the sake of your happiness and career, learn to recognize these signs and start considering what steps you can take to renew that “new job” feeling.
Photo of man floating courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
After beginning a career in management, Katie realized she wasn’t doing what she loved and determined it was time for a major career transition. Now, as a staff writer/editor for The Muse and a content marketing writer for a healthcare IT company, she gets to do what she loves every day—write and edit content ranging from demand generation campaigns to career advice. Her career and management content has been published on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, Inc., and Newsweek. Find her on Twitter @kgwolfie.