March 29, 2019
Statistics say most people change their careers 5 to 7 times before finding the right workplace and eventually retiring. It’s not a very surprising statistic. A lot of people need time to understand their strengths and weaknesses and which work environment suits them best, and that’s perfectly alright.
The problem arises when they confuse ‘working hard and putting in extra hours’ with ‘working so much you hate getting out of bed’. If any of the following signs pop up, you should definitely think about whether you need a career change or not.
You’re exhausted all the time.
No job is easy. It’s normal to feel tired after a long day of work, especially if your boss asks you to work overtime before a deadline. But if you’re so exhausted that you have time for nothing else, not even date night on weekends or going to your kid’s science fair, it’s a definite red flag. The average career minded person works 45-55 hours a week, but if those 45-55 hours are gruelling and soul-sucking, a career change might be a good idea.
You’re resentful toward your job.
We all rant about horrible bosses and jealous co-workers to blow off steam, and that’s natural. It’s not okay, however, if you’re holding grudges and complaining about work so often that the mere sight of your desk makes your blood boil. It’s especially a warning sign if you blame other issues in your life on your job or your superiors and subordinates.
You’re depressed, or you think you might be.
Your career is a big part of your life and your psyche, and it’s going to affect your mental health, whether you like it or not. If waking up every morning and heading to work fills you with dread, if you find yourself just going through the motions numbly, or if you’re more prone to emotional breakdowns and outbursts than before, it’s a good idea to rethink your career trajectory and find something you could actually be passionate about.
Sacrificing your mental health for a job you don’t like not only reduces your productivity and efficiency, but could also affect your relationships, friendships, and overall health.
You daydream about a different career all the time.
Yes, everyone dreams of becoming a celebrity, starring in a movie, or owning a billion-dollar company. But if you know what your passion is, and the idea of working at your current job and never chasing your dreams scares you more than anything else, it might be time to start saving up or applying for a loan so you can focus on getting there someday.
What’s next in your career change?
Now that you know whether you need a career change or not, you need to form an action plan to understand where you want to go and how you’ll do it.
Make a list of appealing options.
Think of all the things you’re good at, all the things you like, and all the things that can pay you enough for a comfortable lifestyle. Are there any intersections? Start there, and narrow down the list as much as possible until you get to three or four top options.
Try the trial-and-error method.
Whatever the top options are, dip your toe into the career water by trying a freelance assignment, shadowing a friend who works in that field, or taking a class. Spend at least a few hours a day or the weekend to experiment. Knowing if the career has long-term potential is very important. Avoid making impulse judgments.
Talk to a career coach or your mentor.
They’re known as the experts for a reason. If you’re stuck at any point, hiring a career coach to talk about your options and discuss job opportunities is the best way to go. Or if you have a mentor you look up to – whether they’re your boss or an old professor – ask for their opinion. A mentor often knows you well enough to guide you on your new career path.
Your career shouldn’t just be about making a living and putting food on the table. It should energize you, challenge you, and excite you every day. Changing careers is scary, yes, and may seem insurmountable at times, but it might just be the best decision you’ll ever make.
- Mike Acker