Lately, I’ve heard a number of friends report feeling stuck in careers. They’re ready to move to the next level, but the job market is tight. No one seems to be moving to open up opportunities, and few new opportunities are being created.

It seemed like a topic that deserved writing about. But like those who report feeling stuck in their careers, every time I began writing this post, I couldn’t seem to think of what to say. To advise readers to volunteer for new projects at work to keep things fresh seemed like tired, obvious advice. And reality often makes such advice easier to give than execute. So what is there to be said about being stuck in your career?

This past Friday, looking forward to the weekend, exhausted, I settled in with a book for the train ride home. A few stops later, I glanced up as the train pulled away from the platform, catching the station name just as the train sped off. Three more stops to home. Finally. At the next stop, I glanced up again. We were at the same station as the last, or so it seemed. Clearly, I had misread the previous sign. I was disappointed, and I felt a little silly for my mistake. “This is like what being stuck feels like,” I thought. You think you’re moving ahead, only to realize you’re not; you’re a bit frustrated and a little embarrassed, as if a miscalculation on your part has resulted in an inability to move ahead. But it’s not that the train had travelled backwards, or that it really hadn’t moved forward. I just had the expectation that the trip from where I started to where I wanted to go would be faster than it turned out to be.