You work for a small company. The positions above you are held by people who are part of the family that owns the business, or they have been there since the company started. The step from your position to the next rung on the ladder seems to be ten stories tall. These scenarios all describe things that work to make a job a career dead end. You can do some things to make this position livable.
View all work as honorable.
Pride in your job should come from the way that you perform the job and not from the title that you hold. Someone who does a consistently good job is more likely to stay employed than a person who is willing to sacrifice job quality or personal morals to try to advance. If you show up for work every day and do a great job, you should not view your position as only negative.
Decide why you are doing this job.
People hold certain positions for a large variety of reasons. If you are returning to the workforce, this may be just getting your feet wet for finding other job opportunities later. If you have left a long career for early retirement, your current job may just be a way to pass time without wasting or to bring in a few dollars to pay for retirement travel or recreation without rejoining the competitive business world. There are many good reasons to not feel down about a dead end job.
Look for meaningful parts to your job.
Even dead end jobs usually perform some sort of service for a company that is needed. People do not hire employees as a form of welfare. Learn to look at different components of the job for who they assist or value that they bring to the company. This will give you a reason to do them consistently with excellence.
Make your dead end position invaluable to the company.
If you do a job long enough with high level performance, employers will realize that a hole will be left if you leave. Although you may be in a dead end position, you will cease to be treated that way. In fact, more opportunities may come along that will cause you dead end job to have a future.
Find ways to expand the job.
Be as creative as the position will allow. You may be able to raise the dead end job to a level that it is considered indispensable to the company. At that point, most dead end jobs cease to be dead end jobs. Take on a few extra duties or make new ways to contribute to the company. This will cause your job satisfaction to soar.
Prepare yourself for a career move.
If you are truly in a dead end job, go to school. Find a way to improve your educational credential. This will open doors for you into new career opportunities. You will have to change departments or maybe companies to move forward. If you are prepared, this will not be a problem.