How do you know if it's time to change careers? 

Assessing whether or not it's time for a career or job change is a complex process, so it is essential to hash it out with the proper guidance and consideration to make the best possible decision for you. This article will outline the stages in this process: 

  • signs to pay attention to 
  • Can you make changes to your current job whilst remaining in it? 
  • changing your job 

Signs to pay attention to 

The following clues might help you answer whether it is time for a career change or just time to adjust aspects of your current job. 

Be sure always to ask the question: "Am I feeling like this because of something in me  or because of something in my job?" Could this issue be solved if you change your mindset,  behaviours, skills, etc? Can the changes be made in collaboration with your colleagues, work processes or environment, or is it the job itself? 

1. Identify the issues and the reasons behind them 

Maybe your job no longer fulfils you, or that recent promotion didn't provide you with enough satisfaction. Perhaps you're bored with your job and can't picture yourself doing it for much longer. When should you change your career or job? Possible first signals of job dissatisfaction? 

  • You can't envision doing this for much longer. 
  • You have multiple general issues at work. 
  • You are experiencing problems with your relationship with a supervisor or manager.
  • You are experiencing problems with work colleagues.
  • Your work performance is subpar/ has declined.
  • Your alarm clock or reminder that Monday is coming soon sends shivers down your spine and ruins your weekend.
  • You don't feel appreciated.
  • You lack any enthusiasm for your work.
  • You feel uncomfortable at work.

It's ok if you're not thrilled with what you're doing right now. Everyone has moments or phases at work when things don't feel as smooth or fulfilling. However, it is essential to work out the reasons behind this and get prepared to make the necessary changes to create a better work experience, whether that means making adjustments in the same job to enhance your experience there or whether to take the plunge and change your position altogether.  

2. Can you make changes to your current job?

Here are some ways to gain more from your current job. 

Better communication with colleagues – so much tension in the workplace is created by poor communication leading to misunderstandings and feelings of resentment. Simply some clear, honest conversations can clear the air and sort out areas of friction. 

Positive work environmental changes – small things can make significant differences to your state of mind and experience at work. It could be the light in your office, the chair you sit in, the breaks you take, or the amount of colour or plants around you. 

Upskilling – being stagnant in a job can be very demoralising. Learning a new skill can invigorate and inspire you. It also allows you to imagine a bigger, more exciting future.  

Seeking internal growth opportunities - this could start with a conversation with your manager. What else is there for you? Sometimes showing interest can put you in mind for other roles. 

Find ways to get more involved in workplace social opportunities – social connections can lead to better work relationships and bring more fun into your work life. 

Get involved - If there are small initiatives or extra projects, it can add a refreshing element. Sometimes (not always, though – be careful!), giving more can reap the rewards. 

Adjust your hours - work hour adjustments can allow you to engage more in your out of work activities. Can some of your hours be taken working from home, or can you go into the office more for human interaction, if that's how you work better? Take time to understand your working style. 

Use work mental health facilities - there is no shame in seeking extra help when you feel you are struggling. That's what counsellors or mentors are for. Sometimes just sharing your concerns with a professional can ease the stress and teach you healthy strategies to support yourself and cope with your challenges in life. 

Create a better work-life balance - this can be difficult to do when work is busy and stressful, and you want to do the best you can. However, it is always worth asking yourself – if I worked slightly less, could I be more rested (or fulfilled outside work)  and therefore be more efficient?  

Seek ways to get better appreciation at work - research says that recognition and appreciation is one of the most critical factors in work satisfaction. Can you ask your manager /colleagues for feedback? Ask them what your strengths are. Offer positive recognition to your colleagues too. It works both ways! 

Change your perspective - have you got a little stuck in negative thinking? We all sometimes do – it's natural, but it can lead to getting into a cycle of finding evidence everywhere you struggle. Can you imagine reframing some of the things you struggle with? Look for the positives. Try writing down the positive aspects of your work to balance your internal narrative.

3. Changing your job? 

If the above ideas seem impossible or you believe they wouldn't change your view on your current job, then it makes sense to move to a new job. Identifying what is important to you is a  critical first step. It will also help to clarify your priorities. These are some of the considerations: 

  • What are your values? These are the things that you hold dear to you, and you will not compromise on. Is the importance of the company in line with these? 
  • What is the company culture? Is it somewhere you feel you can fit into and even enhance? 
  • Salary – how important is the salary to you? Have a clear idea of what you need, then what you ideally would want. If it is lower than you would like, does job satisfaction,  better hours, or doing a meaningful job (to you) make up for a lower salary? 
  • Colleagues – hard to see before you meet them, but find out a little about who you will be working with and do you share values, do they inspire you, can you imagine working with them? 
  • Job location – is the commute manageable in the long term? 
  • Working hours – do they suit your life, and are they sustainable both practically and in terms of your health and wellbeing? 
  • Benefits – find out what they are. Some companies offer excellent added extras such as a good company pension scheme, workplace training, maternity/paternity leave, company away days. 
  • Job role/description – scrutinise it! If you don't feel it fits most of your skills and experience (there is always learning on the job – you can stretch yourself) is it going to work for you? Are you right for them? 
  • Work environment – what are the offices like? Is it an inspiring, warm, friendly space? Are you in a separate office away from your colleagues, or is it a big noisy open-plan space? What works best for you? 
  • Job recognition and appraisal – will you have some autonomy? Will you have guidance? Will you get plenty of feedback? 
  • Growth opportunities – where could this role lead? Are there exciting opportunities down the line? 

Do your homework

Before you phone the firm's recruiting or apply online, learn all you can about the job and the company. You don't want any unpleasant shocks or disappointments after investing time and money into a new position that isn't precisely what you anticipated. It's not easy to change careers, but sit and think about how it could change your life for the better. It is essential to work through goals, timelines, type of job, company culture, fitting into the role and work environment, and your mental and physical wellbeing.

Listing the non-negotiables and the negotiables helps you clarify your priorities and what you are prepared to compromise on. This is like buying a house – you probably won't get everything you want in one job, but make sure you know what you are not prepared to compromise on. Imagine your life in a few years after making a change. How would it be different from now? Changing occupations may also result in financial advantages, but if this is not your priority, then decide what fulfilment, meaning, purpose, working hours?

There's no rush

In conclusion, don't ever make rash decisions when it comes to your career and job. Take your time and make an informed decision before you jump ship - there is help out there, so don't think you are alone in this. Discuss your situation with loved one's, friends, family or professionals it will be worth it in the end.

This is your future; after all, let's not take it lightly really dig in and do your research, make a solid plan and get it done. Good luck, believe in yourself and stand by whatever decision you make; things can always get better before they get worse. Take care and be well.

Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, WC2N
Written by Aaron McCarthy, Expert Career & Confidence Coach.
London, WC2N

For most of my life, I have had a deep fascination with people and how they function, specifically what makes some people work efficiently and find satisfaction and meaning in their work and life, and how these things elude others. This stemmed from my childhood when I saw my mom work non-stop to support six kids as a single mother and st

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