Career Sleepwalking Is A Thing — Here’s How To Avoid It

career sleepwalking

Unsplash/Chris Arock

Between searching for our purpose, getting laid off from work or accepting an offer elsewhere so we can get paid what we’re worth, millennials and members of generation Z are changing jobs pretty frequently compared to older generations. Although baby boomers may not agree with the trend, we’re really just looking to stay active and motivated in our careers. Basically, we’re not down with the all-too-common behavior now known as “career sleepwalking,” thanks to LinkedIn.

According to the social media site’s recent #CareerPivot survey, which polled 2,000 Americans, 47 percent of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 feel like they have no direction with their career path, even after spending more than 10 years in a job. Additionally, 23 percent of Americans said they feel they’re “on a treadmill going nowhere,” while 22 percent said they didn’t actively choose their job — they just “fell into it.”

Career sleepwalking is affecting nearly a third of professionals in the U.S., and younger generations are aiming to avoid it at all costs. According to the survey, younger professionals are three times as likely to change jobs throughout their careers compared to baby boomers. Additionally, about one-fifth of professionals under the age of 24 said they have already held four full-time jobs, and 80 percent say they would consider switching careers altogether.

Before thinking millennials and generation Z are just going to up and leave our companies as soon as something new comes across our LinkedIn feeds, consider this: 40 percent of young professionals said they would actually talk to their boss first about what career opportunities were available in their own organization. We’re just insanely motivated when it comes to learning and growing in our careers. We don’t necessarily need to job hop, but we do need to feel like we’re climbing, not sleepwalking, up our career ladders.

career sleepwalking professionals

Burst/Sarah Pflug

Professionals that participated in the survey responded that they’re motivated by four main areas of their career right now: 43 percent said salary, 40 percent said work-life balance, 22 percent said the opportunity to learn and grow, and 18 percent said the potential to make an impact. If we keep those four factors in mind, we’ll stay motivated to make career moves when necessary so that we can continue to actively engage in our day jobs, rather than moving through life like a zombie.

Avoid career sleepwalking by:

  • Joining professional networking groups that allow you to expand your contacts in your industry. Surrounding yourself with other motivated individuals can help you continue to learn and grow.
  • Reading books that inspire you to keep moving forward in your career. You don’t necessarily need to pivot, but reading about the ways in which you can maximize your opportunities at your current job can seriously help you climb that ladder.
  • Finding a mentor who can help guide you through your career. Discussing both challenges and wins with someone more experienced can help you better navigate that career ladder.

Career sleepwalking is a thing, but it doesn’t have to be for millennials or generation Z. Take steps to stay active in your career so that you’re happy with the work you do every day. You may only have one life, but that doesn’t mean you can only have just one career.


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