askST Jobs: I am unhappy and feel trapped in my current role. What can I do?

In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: I am unhappy and feel trapped in my current role. What can I do?

A: You are not alone.

Ms Rupali Gupta, talent solutions leader at global consultancy Mercer Singapore, says: “We all go through highs and lows in our careers, where we feel, perhaps, that the work we do isn’t meaningful anymore or that our values and interests have evolved.”

Feeling “trapped” can stem from various perspectives, for instance, when you feel that your career progression is stagnated, or that you haven’t been able to improve on work standards despite the effort put in, says Ms Rupali.

It could also be that you are not getting the right opportunities to challenge yourself, your ideas have been constantly shot down by the bosses, or you feel underpaid for your current role.

This could be demotivating over the long run – and it could even damage your reputation if you leave it unresolved, she adds.

You may gradually feel that you no longer look forward or even dread going to work.

Mr Praveen Nair, a psychologist and senior consultant at Raven Counselling and Consultancy, says that work is often more than just earning money.

“It can serve as one’s contribution to the larger community or world,” he notes. “This often means it can impact how a person feels at a very visceral level.”

Start addressing this concern by asking yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?”, suggests Mr Nair.

Break it down by making a list of pros and cons about your current role, says Ms Rupali. “What do you like and not like about your current job? What makes you happy or causes you to feel trapped?”

After that, re-evaluate your needs, think about your aspirations and strengths, and work towards your new goals.

Sometimes, speaking to those around you, including your family, friends or co-workers, about your predicament can be helpful. Get their inputs on what else you could do.

Workers can also raise concerns with their supervisors or HR, advises Dr David Leong, managing director of human resource firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting.