The journey to a fulfilling career can be long and incremental. It is rare for people to enter the workforce knowing exactly what they want to do. According to statistics, by the age of 50, most people have held 12 different jobs in an effort to find their “right fit.” For many, this involves completely changing careers. More than 6.2 million workers left their current jobs to work in completely different fields in 2016.
There are many people who are considering career changes, so you’re not alone. However, putting these thoughts into action can be challenging. There are some who may have to leave a stable job to embark on an uncharted path. Changing jobs mid-career can feel like a step backward for some, but it does not have to.
You can learn more about yourself at every stage of your career: your talents, interests, challenges, and workplace values. Often, the career choices you perceive as mistakes in the path to a fulfilling career are the most informative and transformational.
Furthermore, career fit is a two-way street. The majority of employers prefer that employees are enthusiastic, engaged, and fulfilled in their roles since happy workers are more productive workers. It’s a win-win for everyone when you know when it’s time to move on from your current role.
Having read this, you might be thinking the career path you are on might not be right for you. Take this opportunity to reflect on your current role. Read on to find out how you can break out of your rut and achieve the career you’ve always wanted.
Here are some signs that it’s time to change Careers:
1. Apathetic and complacent are two words that describe you.
As the days pass, you feel increasingly disconnected from your original reasons for entering the field. Mentally, you’ve given up; you’re underperforming, deadlines are slipping, and you simply can’t muster the energy to pretend enthusiasm about the company’s mission. Normally, this wouldn’t happen to you. Is everything okay? It’s true that even if you love your job, there will be times when it feels like work. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your role if you can’t recall the last time you felt energized by a new idea or invigorated by your next project.
2. There is no sense that you are making a difference.
Day in and day out, your job duties remain the same. Each day looks and feels the same, as if you’re simply going through the motions. Your greatest skills aren’t being used, and you feel undervalued. Demoralized, you stopped actively seeking out new opportunities to contribute. Find a new role that allows you to contribute meaningfully, plays to your strengths, and gives you opportunities to develop new skills. Careers should boost your self-esteem, not diminish it.
3. There’s nothing you hate more than going to work.
Everyone has those days when they hit the snooze button a few too many times, or it takes a little motivation to get up and go to work. You may be feeling anxious about a meeting with your boss, or the project you’re working on doesn’t excite you. The difference is that this happens every day. You live for the weekend, but by Saturday night, you begin to dread Monday. It’s time to think about what other areas of work might better align with your passions if you’re dissatisfied with your current role.
4. Your salary won’t compensate for your dissatisfaction.
Although the pay might be good, the work is mindless and dreadful. In the past, you could justify staying based on your paycheck, but no longer. When you attend meetings, you watch the clock tick by. You’ve reached Tuesday after a long weekend, and you’re already marking your calendar for the next vacation day. In spite of your appreciation for your job’s stability, you feel as though you are wasting your potential. There are clear signs that someone needs a change.
5. You are affected by your job in your personal life.
It is important to have a challenging job, but not one that is debilitating. In case you experience chronic fatigue, loss of sleep, headaches, or other physical symptoms, your body may be trying to tell you your career is not right for you. Relationships with others can also be negatively affected by being permanently stressed. Are your friends and family constantly complaining about your irritability? Start exploring activities that can help you re-engage with yourself if your work has made you bitter or unhappy.
6. Imagine yourself in a new career.
During your lunch break, you think about what “your next life” would be like and how you would deliver your two-week notice. In addition to browsing job boards instead of work emails, you’re becoming jealous of your friends’ careers and wondering how they landed such “perfect” jobs. Whenever people ask what you do, you cringe because you think it should be something else. The idea of leaving has crossed your mind, and you’ve even brought it up to friends in passing. Are you considering leaving your job “if you could? ” If so, it’s time to go.
7. You envy other people’s success
There are periods in our working lives that are less satisfying than others. Do you ever see someone earning a living doing what they love and think, ‘Why shouldn’t I have that?’ It could be a sign that you’re looking for something more meaningful.
How to Change Careers
Is it possible to change careers if you can relate to these statements a little too well? Make a plan to find a job that suits your passions since job performance and career advancement are dependent on happiness. Follow these steps to push yourself off of autopilot and make the change.
1. Get specific about what’s not working.
You should first take time to understand what exactly is causing you such distress at work. Is your dissatisfaction due to external factors like coworkers, bosses, organizational culture, or even the commute? Are you still dreading the work you’ll be doing, regardless of whether you switch teams or leave the company? A more drastic change may be needed if your dissatisfaction is due to the job’s functional responsibilities.
2. Identify what you like about your current role.
Imagine yourself starting your current role for the first time. What motivated you? What were the day-to-day responsibilities? Growth in your career? Identify the aspects of your job you still enjoy and try to understand why. Are you creative in your role? Are you thinking strategically? Number crunching? Are you drawn to constant change…or are you more comfortable with stability? As you consider your next position, keep these themes in mind. You’ll be better able to decide where to focus your career search by assessing your current likes and dislikes.
3. Consider your core values.
It’s key to finding a suitable cultural fit when applying for any job. Consider your values and the type of company culture that will fit your personality. What are your values when it comes to autonomy, community, and innovation? Is it uncomfortable for you to work somewhere where maintaining the status quo is encouraged? Or maybe it’s critical to you that you’re working for a benevolent cause.
When taking a self-assessment, it’s important to be honest with yourself, no matter what your values are. Consider the jobs of those friends you aspire to. Are you interested in their role, or do you crave freedom and empowerment in their culture? Discover what brings you life, even if it’s not what you (or others) think you “should” do. Your values may have changed since you started working-and that’s okay. Decide what’s most important to you today.
4. Assess your strengths and skill gaps.
What would you be doing if it weren’t for money, time, location, or whatever else? We need to take action now in order to achieve this goal. A complete 180-degree turn isn’t possible overnight, but examine how your current role overlaps with your ideal role. You are more likely to make a credible transition if you consider your transferable skills, related experience, and network connections.
It’s also wise to chart out the gaps in your skills and experience that may get in the way. You may need to get creative: start a side gig, engage in part-time internships, or even return to school. Carving out a career that’s rewarding and pays the bills can take time, so be patient, and develop your plan.
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