Lack of Career Progression: Finding Fulfilment

Written by: Jacqueline Osgood Renouard – BA (Psychology)

Last updated date : January 04, 2023

Before talking about that feeling of lack of career progression and the pain of seeing no job growth, let’s take a look backwards. From the day we are born and begin to learn about the world and begin to talk, we are asked about our careers.

We begin with highly ambitious careers that we’ve perhaps heard others talk about. We go to school and then possibly university and get told constantly by our education system and those around us what we should do. We follow the advice to the letter and get an office job, or a career that seems worthy to tell people when asked at parties what do you do for a living?

We grind, wake up every day and spend every second at work contemplating what we will do when we get home. Planning for what little holiday days we get. Just hoping that our boss will see our potential one day and promote us up on the famous ladder we’ve heard so much about, but these ladders are slowly becoming non-existent.

Split image of two people being outdoors, distracting themselves from their lack of career progression

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Chapter 1:

When Fulfillment Comes into Question

When we begin to lose motivation in our careers, every moment can feel like an eternity. The count down to the pay raise that never comes can make it feel like our hearts are slowly sinking. In addition, each second spent at work is causing more anxiety, especially if the hours eat into the weekend or late in the evenings.

We feel trapped, unfulfilled, and unimportant.

But this is a perfect time to ask yourself, are you fulfilled by what you’re doing? Does this job align with what you want from life? Is a career progression going to make me truly happy? What kind of job growth would mean a better overall life?

Chapter 2:


The lack of career progression is a time to look inwards, a moment to contemplate what success really means. In our minds, we tend to jump to the big fancy car, the property we’ll be able to own, and tend to think that that is why a career progression will help us be happy.

But if you’ve ever spoken to someone who is at the top of a company, has the shiny car, the big house if they’re happy – you may find that beneath the surface they’re not.

A good idea is to get a piece of paper and write down everything that sets your heart alight, all the things you adore doing. Then, write down all of the values that make you uniquely you. What is it you truly believe in behind closed doors?

What are the dreams you have that you’re too afraid to express?

Are there hobbies that bring you joy? How would love to help others and bring meaning to both their lives and yours?

What skills can you take from your career and blend into a new one? What internal and external growth will lead me to the job growth I’m seeking?

Chapter 3:

The Outcome Mindset

We’ve been taught to believe that outcomes are what is important in life. The grades you got, the money you make, the things you bought. But is money an outcome that has really satisfied anyone?

Instead of money as an outcome, what if asking whether meaning should be the outcome? For example, does your job provide meaning to your life; does it help you grow as a person, does it ignite your curiosity, does it spark joy?

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville.

What school doesn’t teach us is that standing out is far better than fitting in. That following what makes us happy is a far better outcome than climbing corporate ladders. Additionally, discovering who we are and what we can change in the world is far more meaningful.

Chapter 4:


Let’s dive into identity and why we may think and feel that our lack of career progression is due to these biases. Because if we fear doing what we really want to do, it could be because of some of these factors.
Past Experiences
We collect certain identities throughout our lives, starting in early childhood. It’s usually from external factors like what people have said about us, our race, height, gender, etc. Then, as we develop into teenagers, a sensitive time, we start to hold onto these types of biases that aren’t in our control and don’t define who we are.
Our school system, community, news, and the type of information we receive can also start to create an aspect of our identity and what we think of as good job growth. We may not even know how our culture affects our identity and our need for career progression. Culture can hugely affect the values we perceive as our own but perhaps aren’t ours.
Family & Friends
The people we are surrounded by can create an image of us that may not necessarily be who we truly are inside. Their thoughts may be misaligned as we try to please them. The more we aim to follow suit with those around us, the more likely we will make bad career decisions.
Socio-Economic Background
What class we come from also affects our identity. It can create a bias in thinking you can’t go for certain opportunities in life. Although you may be aware that you are not any of these things, you can start to form a subconscious bias against going for specific career paths that might fit you better.
It’s innate within the human condition to compare ourselves to those around us and improve. But the rate at which we do this now is far greater than when human’s were in caves. Constantly bombarded with lifestyles we think we need, can create confusion.

Chapter 5:

The Future of Work

We are currently in another type of industrial revolution, but it’s all online instead of factories. As a result, we’ve seen a rise in “side hustles” and people trying to navigate new forms of career. A survey in 2019 showed that 45% (around 70 million) of working Americans have a side hustle.

Also, due to the fact that a large majority are in financial debt due to University fees, it means that the incomes people are receiving aren’t enough. Also, the corporate ladder is beginning to deteriorate.

We can’t guess what the world of work will be like in the next twenty or thirty years. But, it’s worth contemplating what you can do in your career to either change the shape of your corporation or go on a different path for job growth.

Chapter 6:

Follow Your Passion or Unfollow?

There is a lot of debate as to whether you should start to sell your hobbies and passions. For example, some argue that following your passion is wrong because you’ll either have hobbies that can’t be monetised or that you’ll hate them if you do. They’ll also say that it’s an unrealistic goal because some people have loads of hobbies while others don’t know what they love.

Others argue that you should wake up and love what you do every moment of the day. That following your passion is the only way to find joy in what you do.

But what if the answer is somewhere in between these two arguments? If you’re in a job that doesn’t value you, where you feel you can’t change the status quo, and where you’re mindlessly following a set routine. Then perhaps looking closely at what kind of career would give you autonomy, the ability to master your skills, and provide you with that sense of purpose and joy.

It might take a mixture of using the skills you’ve already learnt at your job and applying them to something that matters more to you – possibly a passion. So it’s not necessarily about loving every single aspect of your job, but seeing how you fit in the bigger picture and connecting with what you do at the core.

Chapter 7:

How to solve the Absence of Career Development

Embrace the Messiness of Change
In today’s job market, we need to learn to adapt, and things are changing fast with technology. Learning to take your skills to different avenues and embracing these changes is a good start in job growth. Also, allowing the messiness of trying to figure out what you want in a career, it’s not a simple task, and that’s okay.

Delve deep into your why, why do you want a particular career? Why will this benefit me and others? Why might these changes to my career shift my perspective?

Seek Meaning in What you do
When we get frustrated with a lack of career progression if we haven’t said it enough, purpose, purpose, purpose! Finding your purpose isn’t about becoming the most important figure in your career – it’s about correlating your job to the bigger picture. For example, you could be cleaning the streets of a city and still have purpose because you see that you’re making it cleaner and safer for people to move around.

Finding your purpose means understanding that everything you do in your job has an effect. Of course, it’s complicated to find that purpose if you’re in a position that doesn’t satisfy you overall or doesn’t connect to your values. But you’re not stuck; there’s always more jobs and more paths out there.

Think of your Time as Valuable
The minute you sign a contract, you are signing away your time. Time is the most valuable thing any of us has, and we don’t get much of it in this life. So, remember that you can decide what you choose to do with it.

Chapter 8:


Each individual is capable of a huge impact on the world. It’s a case of whether you want to change the shape of your perceptions. Money can help create impact, but it’s not the finite reason you cannot make that impact now. See, once we find meaning in the little moments and the way we affect others, is the moment impact begins.

Whether you do this in a regular job or in a career you adore isn’t super significant – you can create impact either way. But, if your career is something that naturally pulls you towards it, the impact could be more powerful.

Chapter 9:

Vision – The Career Audit for Lack of Career Progression

Below are some questions to help you navigate what you love about your current role and what you feel needs changing. Go through these, and you can rate each question from one to five. One is not at all happy, and five being your role brings you abundant joy.
  • Do you currently get the job growth that you want? (learning, training, financially)
  • Are you currently being pushed out of your comfort zone in a great way?
  • How do you feel about your current manager?
  • Does your manager help guide your progress?
  • How do you feel about your team? Do you gel well?
  • Do your values in life align with what your companies values are?
  • Can you be authentically yourself in your career?
  • How would you rate the happiness you find in day-to-day tasks?
  • Do you feel like your job provides meaning?
  • How would you rate your current work schedule and hours?
  • Do you have the freedom you want?
  • Are you seeing a potential for a bright future?

Once you’ve rated these, you can start to see the areas that work for you and create a vision for what you want to improve in the future. This is a great way to connect to what you want, whether that’s more flexibility, more money, or more meaning. Then you can start to plan your next moves a little better.

Chapter 10:


The best advice for that lack of career progression is to align yourself with yourself. Who you are, the beauty that your individuality can create. Understanding what you want to leave behind and what legacy, great or small, you want to produce.

Finding this alignment means discovering who you are without any bias, without anyone else’s perceptions, the truth of you. That process isn’t easy, it isn’t linear, and nobody – not even us – can tell you how to do that.

But if you start to ask yourself these questions, face up to the truth of who you are, there is no doubt that you’ll find far more significance than just a career progression. We wish you well on that journey of self-discovery, job growth and hope the world gets to meet the real you.

"Structured and engaging course" Joan

69 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount