How to Know If You Are Ready to Make a Career Change

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You may have found that the career you thought would last you forever isn’t really working for you. So how do you know when you have reached the point that you need to make a change? Here are the signs you should look for to identify when you are ready to make a career change. 

Change of Job or Career? 

The first thing you need to answer is whether you just need a change of job or a different career entirely. Before you take any drastic action, make sure you understand whether the job itself is the problem. If you love the industry you are in, the best move may be to find a lateral move to a new company. That may eliminate some of your concerns.

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Perhaps you can find a similar role in a new company closer to your home with better hours, better pay, etc. For most people, a career switch means moving into a new field. So how do you know it’s the right time? 

You Feel Bored in Your Current Role

To be honest, nobody expects every day at work to be exciting and fascinating each and every day. That is an unrealistic expectation. What you should expect is to feel that each day is occupying and challenging you. The last thing you should do is feel bored in your existing role. This is a telltale sign it’s time to make a change. Do you feel that your skills are not reaching their full potential with your current role and/or employer?

All of these are signs you are bored and not challenged. More importantly, if you feel like you have stopped learning or growing in your role, it’s best for you to move on.

Your Body Is Saying “No”

Even the best of us get that sinking feeling on a Sunday night as we remember that tomorrow begins the work week all over again. However, there is a big difference between a moan and groan and headaches with all-around anxiety.

When To Change Careers Office Stress

Does the thought of going back to work on Monday make you feel exhausted and mentally drained? That’s the time to ask yourself where this concern stems from. Why you are dreading the thought of work every Sunday evening, and what do you need to do to address these concerns? The same Sunday night feeling may also be happening each evening during the week. Feeling stressed and tired affects your mood and immune system and can ultimately lead to deeper mental health concerns. Listen to your body. It’s likely trying to tell you something. 

Cannot Picture the Next Step

When you are in a role or career that you really enjoy, picturing the next step is easy. It may be a promotion, a lateral move or just the next big project. Does your current role enable you to make a plan for where you want to be in five or ten years? Having a long-term plan is not a requirement, but if you cannot picture what is next, that is a strong sign you are ready to make a change. Sometimes it may be as simple as your current employer not having the resources or positions to show you the next step.

In that case, a job change may be all that is called for. The more likely scenario is that you are searching for a new career path to help you discover what the next step is and to figure out that five- and ten-year plan. A 2017 study indicated 27 percent of employees looked for career changes when it was clear there was no advancement potential in their current position. 

You Dream of Something Different

Aerial View Of Computer Laptop On Wooden Table
Aerial view of computer laptop on wooden table

There is no shame in daydreaming at your desk thinking about being somewhere else, doing something else. However, when that dream starts to become more and more frequent, that’s a telltale sign you are ready for a different career. If you catch yourself surfing LinkedIn or looking at job sites frequently, then you know it’s time to make a move.

It can be hard to accept that you have outgrown your role or industry, but it happens. Staying in your current role is far more dangerous than the potential risk of taking a leap of faith. You have developed skills and experience over time that could very well translate into a different opportunity and passion for you. When your heart is no longer in the work, burnout becomes a real possibility and something to be avoided at all costs. 

Ask Yourself These Questions

It’s really easy to sit down and say “I want a career change,” but the reality of making a change is much more difficult. To know whether the cost is worth it, ask yourself the following questions and look carefully at the answers: 

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  1. What would I do every day even if I never saw a paycheck? 
  2. If I were free to do anything, what would I want to do? 
  3. What have I always been passionate about? 
  4. What are the most important things to me in life? 
  5. What problem do I want to solve in the world? 
  6. What am I looking for in a career? 

The answers to these questions will help guide you on the right path to making a change. Thinking about what is most important to you may be something like “more time with the family.” If that is the case, a career change may be required to ensure you have plenty of time at home. 

Far too many people stay at their current jobs because the money is good. However, when you are starting to think about a career change, act on it. It can be scary, risky and may very well not work. In many cases, the risk is worth the reward, and it’s far better than staying at a place you are unhappy, overworked and/or underpaid. 

David Beren

David Beren is a freelance writer with over 10 years of writing experience. He loves dogs, his kids and hacking productivity.