Knowing it is time for a career change – and how to do it

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Someone who has worked in the same career for their entire professional life, or even someone who has only been working in the profession for a few years, may find themselves remaining there solely because they are afraid of making a change. If this is the case then it is probably time to make finding a new career your major priority.

Many people consider changing careers but do not take any of the steps that are necessary to do it. 

They may be feeling inspired to find a new option and maybe their current profession has simply left them completely burnt out.

There are a number of signs that the time has come to change your career and various steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal.

You have checked out

When someone feels like they are living the exact same day repeatedly, and has little interest in what they are doing, there is a good chance that they have simply mentally checked out of the workplace.

When the mere thought of going to work or attending another meeting does nothing but fill you with dread, the time has come to make a change.

You are turning to bad habits to cope with work 

When someone is unhappy at work they often start to overindulge in bad habits in an attempt to compensate for spending most of the day somewhere they no longer want to be.

People who are unfulfilled or unhappy in some part of their lives often use external distractions to try and lessen their discomfort, and if you have increased your intake of social media, bad TV, junk food, online shopping and alcohol, or find yourself in an increasing number of toxic relationships, this is a red flag that something is very wrong.

All you care about is the money

If money is the one and only reason you are going to work, then the time may have come to find a new career.

While everyone has to pay the bills, money can be made in a variety of different ways without making you feel depressed and lethargic in the process.

When money is the only reason you do anything, there is little chance you will ever be truly successful or happy as you will always be afraid to follow your passions and take any risks.

Money can make people into a prisoner of their own complacency.

Your job is affecting other aspects of your life

When a job begins to take a toll on your personal life and have an adverse impact on your friendships and romantic relationships, then the time has come to re-evaluate your position and whether your current career is still in alignment with your values.

The flipside to this is that if you love your job but your partner hates it, your partner may be the thing that needs to be changed. However, if your relationships are suffering and you still loathe your job then the time has come to make a change in your career.

Your personal goals cannot be reached in your current job

While passion for your work is very important, there is still a difference between a boring job that is getting you closer to achieving your personal goals and a boring job that is not.

Someone may work a boring job in order to pay college tuition for themselves or their child, but if a boring job has no long-term value other than paying the bills then it is time for a career change.

You have no pride in your work

If you have no pride in your job anymore and no inspiration to achieve anything new in your work, then your motivation is only going to lessen even further over time.

This situation will not change on its own, making it crucial to take some steps to change it yourself.

Your career is stagnating

When your career has reached the point where no more progression is possible then the time may have come to change careers.

You are constantly bored at work

When things become too predictable and work no longer holds any new challenges for you, boredom can be the result.

Changing to a new profession may be the answer when you know all of the job descriptions, routines, processes and tasks of all employees in your firm.

The positives of your job are outweighed by the negatives

When you cannot think of more positive things about your job than negatives then it is definitely time for a change.

Write down a list of positive and negative factors about your job to help your mind focus on the things that are really important to you. This can help narrow down the type of careers that you may be better suited to.

You have low self-esteem

A career is a large part of someone’s identity, so when you are not happy with your job this can have a negative impact on your view of yourself.

When your belief in yourself begins to suffer and you begin doubting your own abilities, this is a red flag that change needs to happen as soon as possible.

The ironic thing is of course that losing confidence in yourself can hold you back from making the changes that you need to make and keep you in a career that you no longer belong in.

It takes courage to start a new career but the rewards make it more than worthwhile.

You have seen a better opportunity

While change can be scary, being afraid of something new is not a good reason to stay in a job. If a better opportunity comes along that allows opportunities for advancement and has great pay and benefits, then even if your current position is not too bad it might still be time to make a change.

Your skills are not utilized

You may have a dominant skill that is also a real passion that is simply not being utilized in your current career.

If this is the case and you are able to identify a career that would allow you to use this skill for the same or even more pay, then it could be a good idea to make the jump.

You have a desire to be an entrepreneur

Some people may have worked for someone else their entire lives but have always liked the idea of being their own boss, in which case it could be a good idea to try and make a new career as an entrepreneur.

Whether you quit immediately and try to go it alone or just start something on the side to make extra money at first, the desire to be in complete control of your day can be a very good reason to make a career change.

You are in a declining industry

A more pragmatic reason to look for a career change may not be dissatisfaction with your job so much as the fact that the industry you are in is on the wane.

There are many jobs that appear to be on the verge of extinction because of automation including machine setters and computer and telephone operators.

You can afford to make a change

Some people may simply be in a comfortable enough financial position that they can afford to ditch a job they find unsatisfying in order to splash out and find something they are better suited to.

A career should be something that you can be passionate about, not something that you put up with until retirement.

How to change careers

If any of the above signs are disturbingly familiar to you, then you may well need to consider changing careers.

Beginning a new career can feel like a daunting challenge, but the good news is there are a number of steps you can follow to ensure the transition is a successful one.

Becoming self-aware

The person you are now may not be the same person you were when you began your current career, which is what it makes so important to become self-aware when choosing a new career path.

There are personality tests that measure motivating factors and values that can offer valuable insights into your own challenges and strengths that you may not even be consciously aware of.

Make comparisons between some of your past experiences as well as your self-perceptions and the feedback you have received from others.

A career coach can also be a big help to some people during this process.

Engage in self-reflection

It is a good idea to take the time to self-reflect and think about what the next career you might really want to do.

Changing careers is not just about the practical aspects of a new position but may also have an effect on your salary, so thinking about the state of your finances is important.

Some career changes may also require going into a lesser role than your current position, and it is crucial to decide if you will be comfortable with such a move.

There are several other important questions that you will need to consider such as the time that may be required for education and training and the skills you already possess that could make it easier to transition to a new career.

Explore the options that are available to you

If you have decided you need a change but have yet to make a decision as to your next step, then it is crucial to explore all of the options.

Research may be required to find the new career that is the best fit for you, and there are career sites on the internet that can offer data-driven information about most careers within the United States and allow you to explore options by education, field of work, industry, tasks and so on.

You should also research information about the demand for particular jobs, necessary training or education, pay ranges and physical requirements.

Write down a list of all the job options that you find the most appealing.

Use your network

After you have written down your options, the next step is to share your goals with those around you including family members, friends and your professional network.

Asking for feedback, ideas and recommendations is a good idea, as is seeking out opportunities to network and going to professional conferences with those that are in alignment with your intended career destination.

There may already be people in your existing network that are aware of opportunities that could be of benefit to you.

It is also a good idea to talk to those who are already in the career you are aspiring to in order to gain a greater understanding of the nature of their roles and ask for suggestions on how to proceed with your career change.

This is a good way to find out more about the position you want to get into and shows that you are interested in growing and learning from someone who may be able to give you access to that career path.

Acquire the necessary skills

The next step is to learn which skill gaps you need to fill in to get into your new career and what education and training you may need.

There are many different online courses you can take, but which is best for you?

For instance, what can you do with an MSN? An MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) is an entry-level program for those who want to get into nursing.

Direct-entry nursing programs such as the one offered by Elmhurst University make it easier for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field to get into nursing. This is an intensive full-time program that provides students with an academic foundation in the nursing field as well as practical training via clinical rotations and coursework that offers leadership skills.

With the acquisition of skills, networking and research you can change your career into one that is much more appealing and fulfilling.

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