6 Signs It's Time For a Career Change

The idea that you will instantly know what you want to do when you leave school or university is a myth.  Even if you do have a very clear view of what you want your future career to look like, chances are that the reality is very different than the dream. How do you actually know if a job is really for you until you have experienced it?  For most people, trial and error comes into play and you learn incrementally what you are good at, what you enjoy and where you want to be – like most aspects of life in fact.

Being happy at work is important – as the writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”, and for many people a large proportion of our days will be spent at work.  In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.

So how do you know when it’s time to make a change? The following are signs that it’s time to re-evaluate your career choices:

  • A persistent lack of energy and boredom.  Lots of people feel occasional dissatisfaction and boredom at work – that’s only natural.  But when boredom and lack of energy become the defining aspect of your job, then it’s time to start wondering why.  Try to analyse the root of your boredom – is it the people you work with, the environment you work in, the culture in your office or the job itself?  Be honest with yourself – there is no shame in admitting that something is simply not for you.  One you can identify what isn’t working for you, then you can make informed choices.

  • Physical aches and pains.  There is a strong connection between our minds and bodies and when we feel dissatisfied, bored or stressed, the first sign can be the appearance of headaches, tense shoulders, a lowered immune system giving way to coughs and colds.  Make a note of any symptoms like these – are they worse during the working week?  How do you feel during a holiday? 

  • Constantly stressing about work and inability to switch off.  Contrary to what many people believe, work doesn’t have to be stressful, you don’t have be fixated on work to somehow ‘prove’ how committed you are.  If you feel like that, then you are heading for burn out.  It’s important to monitor your own stress levels and look after yourself.

  • Constantly analysing your work life, wondering what life would be like if you had a different fulfilling job.  The great news is that you can make changes… But to do that,  you have to think things through, work out what you want and then actually do something proactive to achieve it.  Lots of people spend their lives in jobs that they dislike, dreaming about doing something different.  If you are spending your life wishing you had make other choices, then remember that it’s never too late to make changes.

  • The only good thing about your job is the pay cheque. If this is you, then it really is time to re-think because, whilst money is important, it can’t bring fulfillment on its own.  You probably have responsibilities and need that money but there are ways to be creative – how about re-training for another career while you’re earning?  Or if you want to stay in the same industry, asking for an internal move to another office or role? You always have choices.

  • You constantly dread going into work and daydream constantly about giving up.  This says it all, doesn’t it? You don’t want to be there anymore.  So what do you enjoy?  Draw up a list of your attributes, your qualifications and your skills.  Think about previous roles you have enjoyed and what made them fulfilling for you.  What are the differences now?  Really start to analyse what works for you and what doesn’t.  You may not get your perfect job but you can certainly move closer to that.

Being honest with yourself is the first step – good luck.

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