The realization that it’s time to make a career change is rarely a lightbulb moment. It tends to be more of a quiet build over time. Think of a persistent whisper gathering volume and momentum while you go through the daily motions of your job. I don’t want to be here. I’m bored. There must be something else. Of course, it’s hard to heed an inner voice calling for a career change when that job pays well. There’s no denying that the professional and financial risks of making a move are very real. So how do you know when it’s time to take the plunge?
- You’re miserable. We’ve all heard hackneyed expressions like Work is work. That’s why they call play, play. While there’s some truth there, that doesn’t mean you have to keep your chin up and soldier on in an unfulfilling career until retirement comes calling. Consider that most of your waking hours are being spent at a place that makes you unhappy. If there are viable alternatives, slogging away at an unfulfilling job is no way to live.
- Your career has stalled. Routine can feel comfortable at work. It’s nice to know what to expect, where you’re needed, and that a steady paycheck is coming in. Unfortunately, there simply is no such thing as job stability these days – and operating on automatic pilot can be a career killer. If there’s nowhere to go at your current company (but where you are now), there’s a very real risk that you’ll become professionally obsolete. Start looking for new opportunities as soon as you can.
- You are stressed out all of the time. It’s normal to encounter stress in the workplace. Co-workers, supervisors, and deadlines are just some of the factors that can set your teeth on edge for weeks at a time. However, it’s not normal if you’re experiencing stress all of the time. High levels of stress are terrible for both your physical and emotional health. If this is the case, then it’s time to move on.
- Higher education is calling your name. Pursuing a degree can be a boon to existing careers, or a fantastic ticket to charting a new career course altogether. However, make sure you’re not using school as an excuse to escape reality. Everybody knows an attorney who doesn’t practice law. A diploma might look nice on your wall, but that’s a pretty expensive piece of artwork.
- You’re ready to start your own business. Some people get the entrepreneurial bug, and just can’t shake it. If you’re dreaming of big things, that’s fantastic. Make sure you do your research, and that you’re prepared financially. Launching a new business can be a high risk endeavor, and it’s very common not to turn a profit for years.
Ultimately, you’re the only person who can decide if it’s time to take the plunge. If it is time, dig deep, find some courage, and hatch a plan. There are rarely quick fixes, but there is almost always a way forward. Good luck!