8 Signs You’re Ready for a Career Change
- A career change can offer new opportunities, better pay, and increased fulfillment.
- Change careers if you feel dissatisfied, angry, or disengaged from your work and peers.
- Staying in a career you don't like can damage your mental and physical health.
- Pursuing a new career may require additional training, certification, and/or education.
Though it may seem daunting, a career change can improve your quality of life, provide you with new purpose, and even increase your pay. According to August 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adults born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 12.4 jobs between the ages 18 and 54.
A midlife career change can require several steps, such as earning a new certification or license and moving to a new city. Read on to learn the eight signs that you're ready for a career change.
1. You're No Longer Learning or Growing
Some employees outgrow their current positions and stop feeling challenged by their work. "If you're no longer learning or growing, the role is likely misaligned with your skills," said Dr. Tega Edwin, a professional career counselor and owner of Her Career Doctor.
Workers who have stopped growing typically become dissatisfied with their careers and often feel as though they're simply going through the motions without any motivation to do more than just coast.
2. You Feel Mentally and Physically Exhausted
Employees should strongly consider a career change if their job begins impacting their mental and physical well-being. Career dissatisfaction often manifests as mental and physical exhaustion, and signs of burnout should be taken seriously.
"Over our adult lifetime, we'll spend approximately 90,000 hours at work," said Edwin. "Being miserable for that much [time] makes zero sense." Being overly tired and feeling drained at work can lead to mental and physical health conditions.
3. Your Values Don't Align With the Company's
Many employees find it difficult to continue working for a company that doesn't reflect their personal values, leading to feelings of anger, sadness, and/or irritability. Some workers feel the need to constantly challenge their employers and co-workers.
"When a career isn't aligned with your values, you're 98% guaranteed to be dissatisfied at work because you're having to operate in ways that are counter to how you believe you should be operating in the world," Edwin explained.
4. You're Bored With Your Role
Boredom in the workplace can be mind-numbing. "Boring work will leave you feeling like you've hit a ceiling in your career and you become disengaged," noted Edwin. "Once this happens, you find yourself feeling unfulfilled and drained by the work you're doing, which has long-term health effects."
Bored employees disengage from their work and peers, and find it difficult to carry out their daily tasks with any enthusiasm.
5. You Feel Like Your Work Doesn't Matter
"We all have a deep desire to see how our work is impacting other people, regardless of how we define impact," said Edwin.
Employees who feel that their work doesn't matter may begin to believe their time and energy are being wasted. Workers may also start to feel undervalued by their employers and co-workers, leading to disengagement from their work and peers.
These employees often benefit from a midlife career change and finding new purpose in their work.
6. You Feel Undervalued
Feeling undervalued can cause workers to exhibit bitterness and resentment toward their employers and even toward co-workers who appear more valued.
According to Edwin, "Working in a place where you feel undervalued will eventually lead to mental and physical health problems in the long run, so once that happens it's time to start thinking about your next career move."
Feeling undervalued can also lead to employees believing that their work doesn't matter, which only serves to exacerbate the problem.
7. You're Jealous of Other People's Careers
"Being envious of other people's careers is a sign that you're no longer satisfied with your own," said Edwin. "They have or are doing something that you want and are yearning for." These employees may experience annoyance toward co-workers and find work-related tasks increasingly frustrating.
Jealousy can also lead to resentment, which may decrease the overall quality of the employee's work, damaging their self-confidence and reputation within the company.
8. You Long for a Different Career Path
If you find yourself frequently thinking about other paths you could have taken or roles you want to fill, you may desire a different career. This feeling can discourage you from turning in your best work and manifest as distraction, restlessness, and anger.
If this describes you, spend some time reflecting on your career goals and determine what career path would make you feel most fulfilled. Once you have an idea of your next career goal, you can begin taking steps to reach it.
Factors to Consider Before You Change Careers
Though embarking on a midlife career change can be difficult, it's possible to build a roadmap to success. First, workers must know what kind of job they want and research the necessary qualifications. Determine whether you'll need any additional educational and/or practical experience.
Some workers may already qualify for a "better" position or new career. If so, these professionals should update their resumes and begin applying.
Other workers may need additional training, certification, and/or education to begin their new careers. In some cases, workers may even need to return to college to earn an advanced degree.
With Advice From:
Dr. Tega Edwin is a career counselor and coach. She is also the owner of Her Career Doctor, where she helps women who are unhappy at work get clear about who they are so they can find a fulfilling career and job search with confidence. In addition to her work as a career counselor, Dr. Edwin currently uses her Ph.D. in counselor education as a professor to train future counselors in a large research university. Dr. Edwin is a licensed professional counselor, a national certified counselor, and a certified salary negotiation facilitator.
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