Feel like there’s more to life than just getting through the work week? Tired of working for the weekend? Sounds like you might be ready to make a career change!
In our previous blog post, “Changing Careers: Tips for Starting Over”, we outlined a low-risk approach to making a major career change. Change can be scary but we’ve shown you that you don’t have to take a massive leap of faith. With a little patience, you can take small steps towards change in order to minimize your risk! However, the question remains, how do you know when it’s time to take action? Here are a 5 signs that will help you tell if it’s time to make some changes!
1. Are you feeling worn out, exhausted and depleted? Does the thought of work trigger feelings of anger, frustration or depression?
Don’t dismiss your feelings. According to the Mayo Clinic, 47% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress including headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports stress to be such a problem for adults that it costs the American industry $300 billion per year!
At some point, you will need to decide where your well-being ranks in terms of your life’s priorities. Sure, a stable job can offer various benefits (financial security, reliable schedule, prestige) and taking a risk is scary. Nevertheless, if you are in a high-stress, ill-suited or toxic work environment you may be actively participating in the erosion of your well-being. Is it really worth trading your health for a job you’re not passionate about because it’s a ‘sure thing’? Only you can answer this question for yourself.
2. Is your job stress spilling over into your personal life and having a negative impact on your relationships and leisure time?
I’m sure the last thing you want is to burden your loved ones with your work stress. However, you may be doing this without even realizing the impact you’re having on others. If you’re coming home from work each day and spending hours your personal time venting about work frustrations to your loved ones instead of connecting with them, your work life is taking away from your relationships. At some point, venting without action is simply complaining. Although your friends and family love you, even the most supportive listeners will become drained by constant complaining without the willingness take action and resolve the problem.
On the flip side, if you feel completely numb and devoid of energy at the end of your work week, this is also a sign of a poor work-life balance. If you’re left with no energy for the people you love or the activities you enjoy then work has become a detriment to you living life to its fullest potential.
3. Do you have the niggling feeling that despite making the ‘safe’ or ‘responsible’ choices when it comes to your career, the outcome is not right for you?
Don’t get me wrong, there is value in making safe or responsible choices! Unless, that is, you’re making all the ‘right’ choices and are not satisfied with the outcome. If that’s the case, you need to re-evaluate who these choices are right for since it doesn’t seem to be you. You’ve heard it said a million times before: “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it?” Sometimes, what is right for most people is not right for you.
You have to be honest with yourself and determine why you’re making choices that don’t seem to be working for you. Try asking yourself the following set of questions and be brutally honest with yourself, no matter how difficult that might be:
- What do I want out of life? Don’t just make a list of your ideal ‘life script’ (ie. career, marriage, children, house with white picket fences, etc). Dig deeper than that, beneath the surface of social conditioning. Think about what inspires you and makes you feel alive! There is an incredible pressure to follow the well-trodden paths when deciding what to do with your life because the ‘safe’ route appeals to our risk-averse nature. Yet the outcome of safe choices can be stifling when it’s not the outcome you truly want or need.
- What drives me? Identify your personal priorities and what makes you happy. For example, are you driven by career ambition? Financial success or stability? Fame and recognition? Creative pursuits? Working with people? Are you up for anything and excited about change or do you prefer habit and routine? If any of these examples resonates with you, explore it further. If none of them do, spend some time soul-searching so you can get to the root of what drives you!
- If I won the lottery tomorrow, what would I change? If you remove money from the decision-making process, what would you choose to do with your life? Sure, lack of funds can hold us back from leaping towards a change but you don’t have to leap towards change with both feet, it can unfold slowly over time. The end result remains the same!
4. Do you feel like your regular job duties or responsibilities do not reflect who you are or your life’s goals? Is your current job is keeping you from becoming the best person you can be, rather than helping you flourish and grow?
The right career for you will be one that pushes you to grow and flourish into the best version of yourself. And keep in mind that being good at your job doesn’t mean the job is conducive to your personal growth. In fact, sometimes being good at your job makes it more difficult to see that it’s not working for you!
Consider the following example: “Being good at math doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy being an accountant.” Accounting is known to be stable, secure and financially prosperous work so it would be a logical, safe career choice for someone who excels in math. Yet, what if this math-lover doesn’t find accounting work stimulating enough or finds the day-to-day tasks tedious?
As you can see, there’s more to your career than just the daily tasks you’ll perform. You need to also consider how your values and personality fit within the current job structure, company values and corporate culture.
5. Is the job or field you’ve chosen simply not meeting your expectations?
We are encouraged to make decisions about our career path before ever having real work experience or even a full understanding of what our chosen career entails. You don’t have to stick with a career you chose before having all the facts. This is why being honest with yourself is so important.
Let me give you an example. Animal lovers often dream of becoming a veterinarian because they imagine working with animals every day in a healing environment where they get to save lives. Imagine their surprise and disappointment when they find out that a large part of being a veterinarian is euthanizing animals. When choosing this career path, most people do not even realize this will be a major part of the job or have an appreciation of the emotional toll this responsibility will have over time. Perhaps it even goes against their morals or beliefs about animal rights which may make it even more difficult to stomach.
Over time, most people will become used to coping with a job that isn’t working for them and never really take the time to re-evaluate if it’s right for them or even what they want to be doing. Don’t settle for the status quo! Life’s too short for that. Grab the bull by the horns and take charge!
Review these five signs carefully. If any (or all!) of them resonate with you then it may be time to take action. You may be afraid to make a change but with planning and patience, you can start taking steps today towards the life you want for tomorrow without having to risk it all!