Both my parents had the same jobs from the age of 16 until they retired. These days, that’s pretty much unheard of.
The reality for most of us is that there’s no such thing as a “job for life” anymore. And that’s not a bad thing either.
As we change and grow as people, it’s natural that our interests and skills evolve too.
But how do you know you are ready for a career change?
Check out the following signs…
1) You’ve fundamentally changed
One of the biggest and perhaps simplest reasons for wanting to change careers is that YOU change.
As a consequence, you just feel like you want a career change.
It’s to be expected. We are asked to consider our career paths from such a young age. But of course that shifts as you get older.
Think back to when you were 5 years old. If someone asked you then, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Maybe a train driver or an astronaut? My nephew wanted to be a tractor. Clearly, he does not want to be a tractor now.
It’s ludicrous to suggest that we should be held to the decisions we made when we were different people.
The career you once chose may have suited your 20-year-old self — their interests, values, and priorities.
But your 30, 40, or 50-year-old self has most likely shifted, sometimes quite dramatically.
The bottom line is that as you change, you may need to change your career to keep in step with your development.
2) You could do your job with your eyes closed, and that feels really tedious
You are consistently bored as hell at work.
Being highly skilled so that your work feels easy isn’t always a bad thing. But if it leaves you feeling unchallenged and weary, then it is.
I think work is almost like a relationship. There are bound to be days when we are tired of it or question it.
Even when you generally enjoy your work, that doesn’t mean you will do so every single day.
When Monday morning rolls around it can be challenging to get out of bed and get back to “the grind”.
I’m envious of those people who profess to be workaholics who love their work so much that they would happily do it 24-7. That’s not me.
I know that no matter what career I choose, I will have days where I quite frankly can’t be bothered. And I think that’s normal.
But if this feeling or boredom becomes persistent, then it could well be that you have simply outgrown your role.
There is nothing new or stimulating to be found anymore. And as we’ll see next, when we’re no longer growing, work can start to feel very tedious.
3) There’s no opportunity for growth in your current position
You’ve reached the end of the line in your role.
Career progression can be really important to your overall job satisfaction.
It’s not just about making more money, although that can be a factor.
This expansion can also boost your confidence, help you gain more skills, and future-proof your career.
Seeking new challenges is part of human nature. We are creative creatures who strive to evolve.
And as Willian S Burroughs put it: “When you stop growing you start dying”.
Research has shown that when we can grow in a career it has a positive impact on our commitment to our work and how engaged we are with it.
If you are missing these things, you might start to feel it.
4) You’re disillusioned with the work you do
Many of us get into a job when we’re young with slightly idealistic hopes of what it will be. Years later and the cynicism starts to kick in.
Because reality has a habit of muddying the waters. And as it does, you may no longer believe in the career you once chose.
I went into news journalism almost 20 years ago thinking it was something quite noble.
To me, sharing information was about uncovering injustice and empowering people to make changes in their communities.
Some journalism does do this, but I came to discover that plenty does not.
This rose-tinted image was tainted over the years on the job. Until one day, I realized I no longer believed in what I was doing.
My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
Of course to some, caring about the work you do seems like a luxury. One they cannot afford when there are bills to pay and food to put on the table.
But if finding purpose in your career matters (and to most people it does), then feeling disillusioned is a strong sign it could be time to find work that feels more aligned.
5) Your work feels unimportant
It matters less what it is that you do, and more if you believe what you do matters.
When you fill your days doing something that you think is irrelevant and pointless, that can take its toll.
As we just said, having purpose and meaning in life is important to us. And with so much time spent working, it’s understandable that we want to feel that purpose in our jobs.
Giving back is a significant human motivator.
To feel that we often need to:
- Know that what we are doing matters
- See how our work affects other people
- Feel connected to something beyond ourselves and bigger than us
In short: We want to feel useful.
If you don’t, then you might need to find a place where you do feel valuable.
6) There’s something else you are passionate about or want to explore
Many of us harbor secret goals and ambitions. Yet we’ve stifled them out of fear.
We’re worried they are impractical, that we’re not good enough, and that we can’t have what we truly want.
So we push these desires down and try to get on with our current reality.
I’m not suggesting that you give up your stable career to go on American Idol. The brutal truth is that we can’t all be anything we want to be.
When it comes to career choices, we do need to be grounded as well as ambitious. But plenty of our passions are perfectly possible to pursue.
If you have an amplitude along with an interest in something, it’s always worth looking into.
Having no experience in that field doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. The experience you can always gain.
It’s more important to have transferable skills that you know you could quite easily apply.
If you feel like you’re not living up to your full potential, then you most likely are not.
7) You’ve been off work with stress
A whopping 77% of people in a survey said that they had experienced burnout at their current job.
Nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out.
There are many causes of stress, anxiety, and depression. But environmental factors clearly play a huge part.
I am also a big believer that these feelings often point to problems that need addressing in our lives.
They are cues that we feel in the body and mind that can let us know something isn’t right.
So if you’re feeling mentally and physically exhausted by your current career, that’s not something you should just ignore.
If you dread the thought of going to work and it’s seriously impacting your quality of life, mental health, and home life — then it is time to take stock.
That doesn’t always have to mean a career change, some adjustments at work may be enough to shift things.
But if you no longer enjoy your work, and other signs on this list resonate for you — then exploring your options is a good idea.
How do you determine your next career move?
So you’ve concluded that you are ready for a career change, now what?
Here are a few steps to consider:
- Discuss career progression with your line manager to see if new opportunities may be possible within your workplace.
- Decide if now is the right time, emotionally, financially, and practically to make a change. What needs to be in place first? Set a realistic timeline for this.
- Get clear on your beliefs, values, and priorities in life so you can pursue a career change that lines up with them. What is it you are looking for in your next role?
- Identify areas of interest and explore them more through online research, courses, job shadowing, or even reaching out to potential mentors.
- Start networking and expanding your pool. You can attend events, join online groups, connect with people on LinkedIn, etc.
- Develop your skills. The more we learn the more we have to offer. No matter where you are in your career it’s important to continue to grow.
- Set up interviews (either formally or informally). Spend enough time creating well-thought-out and thorough applications.
A new career may not happen overnight, so it’s important to develop resilience and adaptability. But if you’re ready for a career change your hard work can really pay off.