Changing jobs represents a unique set of challenges, but changing a career can feel like a daunting task depending on the level of education you may have invested in or the amount of experience you have racked up. In spite of those challenges, however, the time does come for some when the writing is on the wall. You realize you aren’t happy anymore in the career of first choice, and it is time to assess what you might be able to do to transition into another line of work. Here are what I would offer are four distinct signs that you are not only ready to change careers, but you need to change before your health or your primary relationships suffer any more.
1. You find yourself dreading Monday mornings.
Sometime on Sunday night, you begin to dread going back to “that place” and working with “those people.” This is a classic symptom of job burnout and a sign that you need a change. If you experience this feeling on a regular basis…week after week for a month or more…it is time to take stock. You may need to start considering your alternatives. Life is too short for you to feel reluctant about going to work every Monday. You can only white-knuckle your way through the week so often before it starts to take a toll on your health and your family. The stress of forcing yourself to work in an environment you do not enjoy can make you sick—literally. It can also make you irritable and depressed which can ultimately impact your relationship with your spouse, your children, and your friends.
2. You feel stuck and unhappy because you don’t see room for advancement or promotion.
Many people have settled for whatever work they could get while the economy was down, and as a result, too many people have been chronically under-employed for too long. If you have been in a dead end job where you can’t see a space for yourself regarding a promotion or a significant advancement that includes additional responsibility and/or more pay, you may need to take stock of your alternatives as the economy slowly but surely improves. Stagnation isn’t good for your psyche, and most people want to experience some growth on the job. Feeling that there is no route to more responsibility or more financial compensation can seriously impact your overall job satisfaction and may make you eager to look for alternatives now that the economy is improving.
3. You feel that you have no control over your work or your projects.
If all of the major decisions are made for you even when you may know best how to handle a particular situation, you may be feeling stifled. You will tire of being second-guessed, perhaps by people who have less experience or education than you, and you will soon be ready to make a change. Most of us enjoy our work when we feel that we have some sense of control or efficacy in the workplace. You want and deserve to be given some freedom as you work on your assigned projects or duties, and you would appreciate being given some latitude in making day-to-day decisions. If you are being micro-managed, it may be time to make a change.
4. You feel discouraged and put down by your boss or co-workers.
Given that you spend a third of your waking hours on the job, it makes sense that you would want to work with people who show appreciation for your work. If you only get rebuffs and put downs, it can take away from all enjoyment that you might otherwise experience. One of our basic psychological needs as humans is for a feeling of belonging and feeling appreciated. These feelings cannot be experienced in an atmosphere where your superiors are determined to belittle you or make light of your efforts. If you work with superiors or co-workers who don’t appreciate your contributions, it is definitely time to consider a change.
Let’s face it…we are all living longer, and we are experiencing increased good health and vitality because of the improvements made in our lives as a part of modern society. As a result, it is quite possible that we will experience not only more than one job in our lifetime but that we will experience more than one full career. In my case, for example, I spent the first three decades of my professional life as a teacher and elementary school librarian. I loved that job, but the time came for me to move on and in spite of my age, I decided to try my hand at something else. Over the course of the last three years, since I turned 60, I have retooled and reinvented myself completely. I still use my education (two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D.), and I still use my experience as a teacher, mentor, and trainer, but I also now get to coach, advise, and counsel those who are ready to make a change of their own in their professional lives. I am positive proof that it is never too late to make a change. If you are experiencing any one or a combination of the signs above, you may want to take a look at the possibility, at least, of changing careers and changing your life.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP is a Career Makeover Coach who helps individuals find work that is perfect for them. She specializes in working with teachers who are burnt out and ready for a change, but she also works with mid-career professionals who find themselves ready to make a move that will feel more professionally fulfilling. Learn more about her here.
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