This morning as I was writing this blog, Is it time for a career change, I got this message from a prospect.
“I’m tired of feeling this way. Tired of hearing the same performance issues from my last 3 jobs. Let’s do this.”
I stopped for a second as I was feeling like someone was living inside of my head! Did they somehow know what I was writing about?
Clearly she was in the right spot and I had plenty to share.
The signs are not the same for everyone. We all need to make decisions based on our personal situations. I can tell you if your body got a little tense just reading the title to this post, Is it time for a career change, you might want to keep reading. Our bodies guide us very well if we are awake enough to listen.
Read through this list. Ring your “bell” if any are a yes.
- Are you chronically exhausted and dread going to work?
- Do little things set you off and you complain a lot?
- Do you feel like you do not make an impact anymore?
- Is your paycheck the only thing fueling your workday?
- Do you feel stuck?
- Have you become apathetic and complacent?
- Do you have to give yourself a pep talk every morning to mentally prepare for the day?
- Are you jealous when your friends mention they love their jobs?
If you answered yes to 1-3 of these, it might be wise to pause and take some time to personally audit your career. Before we get into my five steps, I am going to guess many of you are also wondering if these feelings are normal.
Are these feelings normal?
Am I just being melodramatic?
Those repeat thoughts can drive us to a complete point of exhaustion and frustration. And then we get stuck. So, what do we do next? We then get busy with other things that we know we can do because we want to feel productive.
But those tasks don’t solve our initial problem, they just mask them and allow us some more time to feel exhausted and frustrated.
Defining if your feelings are normal is not the question. What you are feeling and why you are feeling the way you do is valid. So, give yourself some slack, and comfort, there.
Becoming aware is the first step to change. Whether you decide it is time for a career change or you shift your mindset and stay where you are at, something needs to shift.
Where do I even begin?
If you are relating a little too well to all of this, here are some steps to help guide you of how to start making the change. Finding a job that connects to your passions will likely bring you joy and happiness. Joy and happiness will likely make the days go fast and you feel a sense of purpose.
Step 1 – Get specific about what’s not working
Are you feeling distress from external factors such as your co-workers, boss, the company culture, your work environment, or even your commute? If so, maybe you need to switch teams at work. Or move to a different area and surround yourself with different teammates. Are you able to work from home if the commute is too much?
If those don’t remedy the situation, and dread and unhappiness are still showing up, your dissatisfaction might be related to the responsibilities of the job itself. If that is the case, a more drastic change may be in order and it might be time for a career change.
Step 2 – Identify what is working well at your current role
Think back to when you started your current role. What motivated you then? Did you enjoy your day-to-day responsibilities? If so, what changed and when? Examine the parts of your job that you still enjoy and spend some time seeking to understand why they interested you.
Look for themes – strategic thinking, creativity, decision making, flexibility, independence – the list is long but specifically tailored for you. Keep those themes in mind when you are looking toward your next role. By knowing what you like and dislike, you’ll have a good grip on what to seek out and what to avoid when it is time for a career change.
Step 3 – Examine your core values
I am a big fan of looking for a company that matches your values and personality. When those show up, it doesn’t really matter if the work is hard or tiring, you are motivated by feeling a part of something bigger.
Step back and think about what type of company would best match your core values. Do you value autonomy, community, or innovation? Do you want a privately held company or one that is employee-owned? Think about your friends who have jobs you covet. Are you interested in their role or is it their company culture that you are craving? In stage one of my Design Your Dream Career program, we define our values. Knowing what makes us feel alive and understanding what our personal foundation is built on is valuable to find a company that fits your personality. If you are finding that your values are not matching your current position, it might be time for a career change.
Step 4 – Assess the gaps
If it were not for money, what would you be doing? What is your passion in life? What makes time just fly by in your world? I realize that it is not always realistic to have a job that brings you all the joy but how about assessing that middle ground? In my coaching program, Design Your Dream Career, we discuss bridging the gap.
Look at your skills and related experiences to gain awareness of how your current role and your ideal role could potentially overlap. Consider your network connections. Do they perhaps have a role you would be qualified for in this middle ground area? Get comfortable staying very curious about possibilities and opportunities you never thought of before.
Career coaches, like myself, specialize in helping you map out who you are now and where you want to be. The work is done in examining the middle ground, forming a plan, and then remaining accountable to achieve your desired results. Now is not the time to beat yourself up for needing help. Instead, shift your talk and remind yourself this is a gift to you. One that will overflow way beyond a new job.
After taking my clients through various self-assessments and tools, we map out a plan. First, we start with the mindset, then get clear on what motivates them, map out their mission or goal, create all the pieces that help them achieve that (resume, optimize LinkedIn, etc.) and then we hit the gas.
The bottom line is this – if you don’t feel like you’re doing work you love anymore; it could be time for a career change.
I have said it too many times to count. It is never too late to start again and do what you love every day. We can always begin again.
My own personal measure is the 90-day rule. If you are miserable, for more than 90 consecutive days, it might be time to pivot. And that goes for all areas of your life, not just your career.