Career Change: When is the time right?

 In Career Tips, Job Search Strategy

Career Change: When is the time right?Our reasons for changing careers are often the source of much contemplation and certainly self examination.  While the question of what would we do next is a big one, two other questions are equally important: 1) When is the right time to change? 2) Are we truly ready?

Let’s look at some of the signals and circumstances that will tell you you’re ready to change careers:

You’re done.  You may have gone into your career with specific goals in mind, and now that you have achieved them, you’re simply done.  I did this with my first career and once I was solidly past the goal line and had time to reflect, I knew it was time to move on.  This set of circumstances is a good clean break with no confusion or ambiguity.

You hate your job.  Usually we get to this point after an ongoing barrage of unacceptable events.  As the saying goes: “Death by a thousand cuts”.  Rarely do we leave a job because of just 1 thing (although it does happen).  We arrive at this point because the pile of issues and the damage from those issues is too big to reverse.  We are a very hopeful species and usually stay on much too long hoping that things will improve.  By that point, we’re suffering!  This situation can do damage to you if you don’t do something to get out.  People can incur deflation to the self esteem and career.  The career might have been ok, but so much damage has been incurred that you need to walk away and start over.

There are too many things you don’t like to do.  Every job has parts to it that we don’t like; it’s just how this works.  With this issue, there are too many things you do that you’d rather avoid.  It makes up too much of your day and even if you change your place of work, this issue won’t go away.  I once had an admin who had been a divorce attorney.  He hated all the conflict and animosity that went with that job.  He liked law, but he didn’t like how adversarial the environment was.  Time to change careers.

You’ve worked on improving things, but it hasn’t helped.  You may be a proactive person and have worked on some of the things that have dissatisfied you about your career.  Despite your best effort, it is just not enough.  You can’t even find enough other things outside of work to distract you from the discontent.  Time to go.

The job is boring.  You may have topped out and this is as far as you can go.  There is nothing more to learn and very few surprises.  This happens sometimes.  Although having a boring job sounds like it might be good because it’s not demanding – think again!  We all have an urge to feel like what we do matters.  This situation will eventually grind away your self esteem.  If you’re in this situation, it’s time to go.

The career is sinking with you in it.  Like the poor guy who used to craft buggy whips, there are some careers that shrink until they no longer exist.  For example, today loads of people in print journalism are finding that situation to be true.  Don’t go down with the ship.  Leave before you’re forced to.  It is hard to admit things like this, so you’re going to need to get honest about the future of your career.  Start figuring out your next career as soon as you discover the problem.

You’re getting restless.  You might be doing fine in your job, the career has been rewarding but it’s not holding the interest for you that it used to.  You’re starting to think other things look better and you’re day dreaming about what it would be like to shake things up.  You may not feel too motivated to really take that leap, but the stirring within you is becoming a constant companion.  Listen to yourself!  Not all reasons for changing careers are external.  Sometimes our own alarm clock goes off and tells us it’s time to change careers.  We tend to like more blatant signals to force us in to a big change but if you ignore your own voice for change long enough you will eventually be unhappy.

It can be a tough decision to leave a job and also leave a career to start over again.  The days of having a lifelong career are in the past.  Today most people have 3-4 careers in their working years.  In general, we’ve become more restless and demand more than just a paycheck for our time.  We want meaning and interest in what we do.  It’s ok to acknowledge that it’s time to leave your career.  It’s not a sign of failure.  It’s a sign that you’re ready to expand yourself in new ways.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

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