In your career, sometimes you go through the same routine day after day. While this routine is comforting, you may be missing the signs that things are not going well in your career. Thinking about a career change can be daunting, but it may be necessary if your job has reached a certain point. Understanding that a career change is the right thing to do can come from careful consideration of various factors. Some factors might encourage you to leave your current job, to seek a new more attractive career.  This article explores five signs that you might be ready for a career change and how you can identify them.

1.                 You are worn out and exhausted from doing your job

Given that you will likely spend a large part of your day at work, your job must be something you enjoy, and if it is not, you should try to find an alternative that will make you happier. A little bit of stress in a job can be a good thing or a motivator, but too much stress can cause burnout and exhaustion. When you are stressed out, you may not want to go to work. The implications of this are not just health-related; they can also be picked up on by your employer, leading to performance management issues further down the line.

2.                 Your skills and responsibilities are not fulfilling – you are bored

We all grow over time, but your job can stay the same if your responsibilities are not updated. Outgrowing a position is quite common, and such a feeling is a frequent precursor to seeking a career change. Disengagement can be challenging to diagnose as it can materialize gradually. Still, if you take time to reflect on what you can achieve at work regularly, you will begin to understand when it is time for a new challenge.  If you find you are bored at work, are there ways to challenge yourself with new learning or can you ask for additional responsibilities?

3.                 You think about other people’s careers

Thinking excessively about what other people are doing, or comparing your duties to theirs’s, is a sure-fire sign that you are ready for a change. A bit of professional comparison is natural, but anything more than that suggests that deep inside, you are not happy with what you are doing or that you are seeking to try something new. It might pay to talk with professionals and ask a few questions about what they do to see if making a career change in their direction is the right thing for you to pursue.   Set up an informational interview or field research to learn about the opportunities in these careers.

4.                 You are not feeling like you are making an impact

Having a purpose at work is essential. From the outset, finding a job and an organization aligned with your values will ensure that you are creating an impact in your chosen field every day. If your job is not aligned with your purpose or values, it might feel like your wheels are spinning and your working day has little meaning.  If you start looking for a career change, research new organizations’ culture and values statements to see if they match your own. Do a little reflection and journaling to see what the purpose is you want from work and from your responsibilities. Do some additional journaling to see what type of organization you would like to be in and how your current employer matches these thoughts and feelings.

5.                 You have a gut feeling you are meant to do something else.

Instinct goes a long way in determining whether a career change is the right thing to do. Sometimes, the job you are in will tick all the right boxes, such as purpose, correct level of responsibility, salary, and so on, but you still might get that little nagging feeling that something about it is not quite right.  Take some time to consider whether these thoughts are momentary or part of a long-term pattern. If they are the latter, maybe you should consider looking at a change of course. Again, journaling on what you want from work and life will help you develop the vision you want in life.  Take some time after work and from the computer and journal for 30 minutes. Write down whatever comes to mind and to see what themes and patterns emerge from your writing.

Making a career change should only be taken after thoughtful consideration – the above signs are a great place to start. As you consider whether a career change is the right thing to do, take time to reflect upon your job regularly and how it is going. A personal SWOT analysis is an excellent tool to assist with this, helping you understand your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Using this information and understanding the signs that might suggest the need for a career change can help you make an informed decision about the best next steps.  

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  • Mark Danaher

    Career, Life and Leadership Coach, Virtual Speaker and Trainer

    Careers by Design LLC

    Mark Danaher is a career/life/leadership coach and certified career counselor who helps leaders elevate their careers and life to one they will love.  He helps his clients make the best of tough situations so they can be their best professionally and personally.   Mark uses coaching along with his extensive career development knowledge and expertise to offer his clients a uniquely holistic approach to making career and life pivots.  He helps his clients manage burnout, stress, and anxiety, integrate balance into their lives so they can make a meaningful change in their lives. He uses a holistic narrative career approach to help people tell their stories and learn from their careers and life.  Mark completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut in Economics and History and went on to earn his Masters at the University of Connecticut in Counseling Psychology.   Mark was the President of the National Career Development Association in 2014-2015 and continues to volunteer for the organization.   He is certified as a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Counselor, Holistic Narrative Career Professional, Retirement Options Coach, 2 Young to Retire Coach, Job, and Career Development Coach, Job and Career Transition Coach, and a Certified Career Service Provider.  Mark is a Master Trainer for the Facilitating Career Development Certificate and School Career Development Advisor certificate is actively coaching training, and teaching throughout the year.  He is now a Master Practioner of the Energy Leadership Index which is a great assessment to understand how you use your energy in your everyday life and under stress.  It gives you a great insight into how you can improve your everyday interactions and connections with colleagues, employees, family, and beyond.