How to get out of a rut in your career

To make a career change at age 51, I used the job search videos and workbooks available through the Church. I suggest the following:

Order a set of booklets for yourself through your ward clerk. Check out the accompanying videos from the ward library.- Write a "strengths and skills" resume based on exercises in the booklets. Don't limit yourself to emphasis on current or past field of work. Emphasize skills and abilities.

Include skills developed at home and Church that transfer to the job market such as leadership, organization, speaking or teaching and time management skills.

Tell your friends of your needs by using the 30-second verbal resume described in the booklets. Let everyone you meet know of your job search. When asked, "What do you do?", answer, "I have skills (or abilities) in . . ."

rather than giving a list of past jobs.

Arm yourself with questions found in the booklets to ask potential employers when interviewing. They make for an impressive interview.

I can count the value of the booklets in thousands of dollars in increased income annually over the past decade. They are an invaluable tool made available through the Church. - Mark D. Collier, Gilbert, S.C.

What we did:

Pertinent questions

It's been my observation and experience that ruts may be caused by the career we have chosen or that someone has chosen for us. If that's a possibility, you may want to examine the effect it's having on your life by asking the following questions:

Do you find pride and satisfaction in your career?

Do you have a feeling of accomplishment?

Do you look forward to challenges of the day?

Do you get recognition for your efforts?

Do you have time to serve your family and Heavenly Father?

If you're not comfortable with the answers to these questions, you may be spending time in the wrong career, digging a deeper rut.

The thought of changing your career could be scary but remember an average bread winner will spend 30-40 years in the work force. That's a long time to be in a rut.

While working with the public some 35 years, I see people in their 60s-70s working and enjoying it. By accident or design, it seems they have found their niche in life, being of service and free of ruts. - Ward Cottrell, Upland, Calif.

Continue education

One way to continue to enjoy your career is to take advantage of every opportunity you may have for continued education, whether it be through your current employer, at a community or technical college, or through some other means.

Another possibility is to become an instructor in what you do. For example, I have enjoyed teaching various computer-related classes at a nearby technical college one night a week. The additional income has been useful and the relationships formed with students have been most enjoyable. An added bonus (and it came as a surprise) is that prospective employers have been impressed with the fact that they see on my resume that I have actually taught others the skills I use every day. They see much value in that kind of a person.

And, as always, prayer can be helpful as you express to the Lord your desires to have your employment become more meaningful. I know for a fact that He truly cares for each one of us, even in the area of what we do for a living. - Larry Willis, Minneapolis, Minn.

Change attitude

Often, all that is required when we feel that we are getting in a rut is minor change in attitude. I have found that the following have helped:

Dedicate your work to the Lord's glory. If you cannot sincerely feel you can do this, you may need to consider another line of work.

Pray each morning for His blessing that you might serve Him, others and your employer. Ask for specific help with challenges. Pray during the day as needs arise, remembering that He knows everything.

Cheerfully and promptly offer your tithing. You will, as promised in the scriptures, feel a literal partnership with the Lord.

Consider your pay as sacred to be spent on worthy goals.

Acknowledge and thank Him continually for your gifts and talents. Dedicate them also to His purposes.

We can be partners with our Father in Heaven and feel a glory in our daily work just as Joseph did in Egypt. - Don S. Robertson, Spanish Fork, Utah

Pray, explore options

Pray for guidance. Explore options. Choose and move forward. In my case, this process led to an advanced degree program and a lateral move into a new field. I am grateful for spiritual guidance in the process, but it did not come until I actively explored options and made choices. Now I am pursuing a professional certification, which will open more doors - and keep me from trading one career rut for another. - Kris Robertson, Norman, Okla.

Set goals

"You don't know how lucky you are to enjoy your job!" This was one of the last things my dad told me prior to his passing. I have thought about it since that time, knowing that he stayed in his line of work merely to support his family, not because he derived great joy therefrom.

To avoid getting into a rut that can then easily regress to dislike of my job, the following things help:

Set goals germane to present position and responsibilities.

Attend conferences that present new and refreshing concepts relating to career.

Make time to read appropriate periodicals and professional journals relating to career.

Associate with those who are striving toward excellence and who avoid mediocrity.

Cultivate and nurture an attitude of gratitude for the privilege of being able to work.

Draw the boundary between work and home life.

Learn new skills and hobbies that add extra depth and dimension to life.

Be grateful for what you have. Look around you, realize others have it worse than do you. - Chuck Rasmussen, La Jara, Colo.

How to checklist:

1 Pray for guidance; be grateful for opportunity to work.

2 Evaluate your life, goals; explore options, study career materials, videos.

3 Develop talents, hobbies that add dimension to your life.

4 Learn new skills, attend conferences; become an instructor in your field.


Jan. 24 "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life."

Jan. 31 "How to save more, spend less."

Feb. 7 "How to teach children respect for their elders."

Feb. 14 "How to keep a clean home despite a busy schedule."

Feb. 21 "How to teach children to be honest."

Feb. 28 "How to supplement your regular income."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help yourself or loved one overcome an abusive nature," "How to be prepared to share the gospel and answer questions," "How to build a strong work ethic in children," "How to encourage children and young people to be physically active," "How to better serve those to whom you are assigned as a home teacher or visiting teacher."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed