There has been a lot of talk about the Great Resignation over the past couple of years. Faced with the finitude of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many reevaluations and reassessments of what it meant to live and make the most of our time here. Jobs and careers, naturally, came into play.
People quit, said “so long!” and went off in search of better salaries and true meaning. In the US, an average of four million people left their jobs each month in 2021. And in the UK, a survey found that almost one in five UK workers said they expected to leave their current job for a new employer in the next 12 months.
Many people have probably found what they were looking for, while others are likely facing a world of regret. According to The Muse, nearly three quarters of workers have taken a new job only to discover that it is much different from what they expected.
Sometimes a career change is exactly what’s needed, but it’s important not to jump on a bandwagon without thinking carefully about the future and making some concrete plans.
Here are 5 signs it’s time for a career change:
You’re stressed all the time
Stress is everywhere in our lives and sometimes we can’t escape it, but too much of it can make a job nearly unbearable. Causes of workplace stress include unreasonable demands, feeling like you lack control of your situation, and negative relationships with coworkers and bosses. And stress is associated with myriad negative health outcomes like anxiety, stomach problems, sleep problems, and depression. Plus, it can hurt your job performance and morale. If you’re stressed out at work, it might be time to assess your situation. Is it your workplace or your career as a whole? Have you chosen something that causes you more harm than good?
You’re feeling burnt out
As we all know, because it is a cause of stress, burnout can also have a host of negative health outcomes, including insomnia and anxiety. It can impact every aspect of your life and suck the joy from work and play. The thing about burnout, however, is that we can recognize it in our friends and loved ones but we don’t always see it when it’s happening to us. We take on one more thing and one more thing, convincing ourselves we can fit it in and make it work, when the reality is that we can’t. We wind up tired, depleted of energy, and stuck under a pile of tasks we can’t get out from under. If a job is burning you out, modifications should be made. Similarly, if looking at different positions in your same field doesn’t look like it will bring change to this situation, it might be time for a career overhaul.
You dread going to work
If you’re lying in bed in the morning not wanting to get up and face the workday, that is not a good sign. If you are becoming someone who only lives for Fridays and relates to memes about how much people hate Mondays, that is not a good sign. If you start to feel a sense of dread setting on on Sunday nights, this is no way to live. Your work should bring you joy and fulfillment whenever possible. While we don’t all have the luxury of doing a job we love and many people have to work to put food on the table, we can start to work towards a job that brings us some kind of joy and satisfaction or towards finding that joy and satisfaction in what we are already doing. This might be in your chosen sector or it might mean an entire change of direction.
There’s no opportunity to move up
Opportunities to move forward and upward are a key element of job satisfaction. If we don’t have these opportunities we start to feel like we are running to stand still and this is frustrating and demoralizing. We need to feel like we are going somewhere or stagnation sets in. Unfortunately, many workplaces have nowhere to move up and the only way to get ahead is to move on. And some careers have limits.
You want a different kind of life
What the decision to change careers came down to for many is simply the desire to have a different kind of life. Some decided there wasn’t enough purpose to what they were doing and that they wanted to make more of an impact on the world and the things they care about. Gartner research found that, asked if they “agree or strongly agree” with the following statements, survey respondents said the pandemic has:
- “made me rethink the place that work has in my life” – 65%
- “made me want to contribute more to society” – 56%
- “made me question the purpose of my day-to-day job” – 52%
“Purpose” means different things to different people and we don’t have ready access to numbers on how many people changed work for the charity or non-profit sectors. But we do know that seeking meaning is one way people look for another kind of life. You may want more family time or more travel. Whatever it is you’re looking for, your career can be a big part of finding it.
Your job won’t exist in five years
There have been many changes to the business and employment landscapes in the last decades and many jobs are becoming obsolete or are changing so much that those who do them will need new skills. From legal and executive assistants, to print journalists and travel agents, jobs are disappearing or shifting thanks to technological advancements like software and artificial intelligence.
If your career is in danger of becoming obsolete, the time to start looking into other options is now.
Don’t make rash decisions about a career change
It’s important not to make rash decisions that you will regret later. It may well be time for a career change, but ask yourself first if you’re prepared to make a shift and have a contingency plan in place if things don’t go exactly as planned. Taking it slow can be a good idea, starting with taking some courses and putting out feelers, as it’s not financially viable for everyone to just jump ship.
Life is short and happiness is important. Once you decide on making a career change, start putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.