Career slumps don't happen overnight. So it's no surprise that people often spend a decade in a chosen field only to figure out they're not doing what they want.
After working her way up the corporate ladder to become a vice president of marketing, Pamela Skillings, career coach and founder of Skillful Communications, realized she wanted to do something else.
She yearned for a career that would let her explore her passion for writing.
She coupled her experience in the marketing field and her interest in writing to launch a new career as a counselor and author. Her book, "Escape From Corporate America," is due out in May.
"You owe it to yourself to see what else is out there," she said.
Marcia Worthing, co-author with Charles Buck of "Escape the Mid-Career Doldrums," lists five steps to digging your career out of a rut.
Assess. It's important to pinpoint what is dragging you down. Simply telling yourself you're bored or tired of a job won't help you find solutions.
"Figure out what's causing you to feel this way," Worthing told IBD. "Are you in the same job too long? Is it the job itself? Is it the people you work with? Then figure out what it will take to change it."
Rework. Once you know what is causing you to be unhappy, use your findings to find a cure. You will look for different answers depending on why you are in a career slump. If boredom is the issue, consider changing jobs within the same company.
If you fear burnout, then some time away from work might remedy the situation. "Take a vacation or do activities outside of work that could fulfill your needs," Skilling said.
Be open. It's simple enough to keep abreast of trends in jobs and careers. But few people actually take the time to explore the landscape.
"You have to devote time to it," Worthing said. "Talk and listen to people talk about their jobs, read the business pages of a newspaper, be aware."
Skilling says she talked to people who left their careers to start another one to help build confidence.
"It's not easy to go from having an identity to not knowing and aspiring to be something else," she admitted.
Take action. Prepare to take advantage of opportunities. Whether you need to upgrade your skills or make the right calls, write down a plan you will follow.
Consider taking classes, volunteering and stepping up your networking efforts, Skilling says.
Your research will help you zero in on your options.
"I researched a couple of things, eliminated a few ideas that turned out to be more fantasy than reality and focused on what I could actually do," Skilling said.
Expand possibilities. Enter your discomfort zone, Worthing says. If you're up for a promotion but didn't really consider it because it involved a geographical move, revisit the idea.
Such a change might be what you need to revive your career.
"It can be very positive to be outside your comfort zone," Worthing said. "The wider the comfort zone, the better."