Sometimes, it’s crystal clear that the career path you’re on just isn’t going to work out, and that the only way forward is to change careers.
More often, though, it can be hard to decide whether you should stick it through, take a break, or whether a career transition is truly the right choice.
It might take some reflection and guidance before you come to an answer, and even then you may not know whether it was the right choice until later. But taking stock of your values, priorities, and feelings can be helpful in making that initial decision. Here are some big signs a career change could be a good move for you:
You don’t see a great path forward or upward in your current company/field
If you feel like you’ve learned just about everything there is to know in your job and feel bored, or if you have moved up in your company as far as you want to or can, then it might be time to think about a change. Maybe moving up means a lifestyle change you don’t want. Or maybe you are hesitant to pursue promotions because some part of you feels you’ll be out of there soon—you just haven’t made that move yet. If any of these things are true, now might be the time.
You aren’t enjoying the work you do – you experience burnout, dread, and chronic stress
Do you get a feeling of dread before the work week? Does it feel like no vacation is ever long enough to restore and re-energize you? Your body often figures things out before your brain does, so it’s worth taking your physical response to work into account.
Lots of jobs are stressful and unpleasant, but if this feeling has been going on for a long time and you don’t think that small changes, breaks, or benefits can make that feeling go away, then a career transition could be the thing to finally take you out of that slump and inspire and motivate you again.
You find yourself daydreaming about other jobs and careers
Maybe you spend idle time scrolling job boards and imagining what your life would be like in X career. Maybe you have friends that have left their own careers and pursued things that mean more to them, and you feel envious and/or excited about one day having that yourself. That’s a feeling you should trust when you’re weighing the pros and cons of changing careers.
You’re capable of more than you’re doing right now
It’s so easy to settle into a comfortable job if it’s reliable and you were once just grateful to have stable work in the first place. But over time, you can start to get a nagging feeling that you’re not reaching your potential. We all have an innate need to challenge ourselves and grow, and if your current career isn’t fulfilling that need, then you may want to look for a new one, rather than feel restless and unfulfilled where you are. And if you know you can make more money in another field, it could be worth the work it takes to transition.
What you might still need at this point is to figure out what skills you have that aren’t being utilized right now, and what you’re capable of achieving in alternative careers. An effective career coach is a great resource for that part of the process.
It could be time to break out of the cycle of negative feelings at your current job and start getting excited and hopeful about new opportunities. Visualize what your ideal life looks like: what would a good work-life balance look like? What would you do with more energy, free time, and confidence? Where can you see yourself thriving? Who do you admire?
You don’t have to make a big change like this alone. Career coaches can guide you through a career transition and help you on the path to those goals. An experienced career coach will be objective and compassionate, and can give you clarity as you plan your transition.
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