7 sure-fire signs it’s time to change careers

Jul 8, 2021

Picture this…

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are in your career. You’re talented and successful at what you do. Your work is financially rewarding and you love your clients.

Then one day you wake up and something’s shifted. You’re not passionate about your work anymore. You feel disconnected, unhappy and you’re unsure what’s missing.

So, what do you do?

Having coached many professionals through their career changes and navigated two successful career transitions, I’ve identified some common signs that indicate it’s time for a change.

Read on to learn the 7 sure-fire signs it’s time to change careers. You’ll clarify if making a move is right for you and what you should do next.

SIGN 1 – YOU’RE DREADING MONDAY

We’ve all experienced those Sunday night blues. The weekend’s nearly over and we’re not quite ready to go back to work on Monday.

But what happens when those Sunday blues become feelings of dread?

You struggle to find the energy to get up and go to work each morning. You’re bored or unhappy at work most of the time. The work no longer challenges or energises you.

You’re dreading Monday and living for the weekend.

This is the first unquestionable sign it’s time for a career change. If you’re currently experiencing these feelings, it’s important not to ignore them. They’re highlighting a very real problem that needs addressing.

SIGN 2 – FEELING EXHAUSTED OR TIME TO MOVE ON?

When was the last time you had a break? If it’s been a while since you had a work-free weekend or took any time off, it’s possible you’re burnt-out.

Prior to my career change, I lacked the desire and energy to go to work each day. I battled these feelings for months before finally addressing them. Knowing I was burnt-out, my first step was to take some extended time off.

6 weeks later, I was back at work feeling refreshed and energised. But those old feelings of dread immediately resurfaced. I was bored and completely unchallenged.

If you’re feeling exhausted, it’s essential to take some time off. If you return to work after an extended break and still feel bored or unhappy, this is a clear sign you’re ready to move on.

SIGN 3 – YOU’RE AMAZING AT WHAT YOU DO, BUT YOU DON’T LOVE IT

We all have things we’re good at that we don’t enjoy doing. I’ve got a knack for creating sales budgets and business plans. But I dislike numbers, heavy administration and burying my head in spreadsheets all day!

Being exceptionally talented at your job doesn’t mean you have to love it.

In my previous career as a corporate recruiter, I discovered I was great at sales. I achieved top financial results over consecutive years and took this experience to start a successful consultancy.

But at some point, I realised – I didn’t love the work.

Communication and connecting with people are what I really loved about this role. They’re also my natural strengths. I now satisfy both aspects through work I’m truly passionate about – coaching, training and writing.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in your profession for years or if you’re the best at what you do. Not loving your work is a big sign it’s time to make a change!

Identify the aspects of your job that you enjoy. What activities and tasks energise or light you up? Use this information to guide you as you embark on your career change.

SIGN 4 – YOU DREAM OF SOMETHING BIGGER

Have you ever looked at someone’s else job and thought – I’m jealous! I wish I could do that!

You might be interested in aspects of the work they do – such as their industry, brand or the type of clients they work with.

Perhaps you see someone working in a certain way – part-time or flexible hours, for themselves, from any location in the world – and you dream of doing the same.

Career envy or curiosity about another person’s work means you’re starting to dream bigger.

Growing up watching my father run a successful company, I always knew I wanted to start my own business. When I found out career coaching existed, I was immediately drawn to this work. And seeing a friend publish their first book, I can’t wait to write my own some day!

Dreaming of something bigger is a sure sign you’re ready for a career change.

SIGN 5 – YOU DON’T WANT YOUR BOSS’S JOB

I’ve interviewed hundreds of professionals who have successfully changed careers and many have shared a version of this with me:

“I look at my boss and know I don’t want his/her job one day. I need to make another plan”.

Over the past 11 years, I’ve worked with many lawyers who’ve had successful careers in leading top-tier firms. After promotion to Senior Associate, they look at their manager and realise they don’t want to become a partner in a major law firm. Or partnership at all. Plenty of these individuals transition out of private practice into an in-house legal role. Others start their own practices. Some change careers completely.

With this realisation, many professionals feel anxious about throwing away the time and energy invested into their current career and employer. They’ve got fears, worries about finances and what others might think.

If you decide this is not the right career path for you, don’t feel guilty or try to deny your feelings. Embrace it. And start planning ahead for your move.

SIGN 6 – WOULD YOU CARE IF YOUR JOB NO LONGER EXISTED?

An interesting concept that gave me clarity during my career change is an idea from online entrepreneur and business coach, Marie Forleo.

It goes like this: Imagine a law was passed and you can no longer operate in your current profession. Your job no longer exists and you need to find a new career. What would you do?

Your immediate response is very telling. This scenario removes all logic, people and circumstances involved. You’re being asked to tap into your body’s natural wisdom – your intuition.

What, intuitively is your immediate response? Do you feel angry, fired up and ready to fight to do the work that you care about?

Or, do you feel lighter, more expansive, even relieved – like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders? Are you excited about the opportunity to move on and try something new? Is changing careers a clear YES for you?

If there’s a clear voice telling you it’s time to move on, don’t ignore it. It takes an enormous amount of courage to make a career change. But the alternative is to hide behind fear and become increasingly unmotivated, stressed out or miserable.

SIGN 7 – YOUR HEART’S NO LONGER IN IT

If you’ve attempted to address what’s making you unhappy at work and nothing’s changed, it’s possible you’ve lost the passion for what you do.

You’ve lost interest in your work. You’re counting down the hours until you go home. Perhaps you no longer care about your job.

These are all final, definitive signs your heart is no longer in it. If you’ve reached this point, accept it’s time to move on. You’re ready for a career change.

Final thoughts…

It can be challenging to recognise when it’s time to change careers. Often we go months, even years without noticing or addressing the fact we’re ready for a change.

Take the opportunity right now to reflect on your own career. You may not even need to make a complete career change. Your change could be as simple as a job move within your existing profession. If this is you, read this article for more information on what to do next.

However, if you do decide it’s time to change careers, use this information to guide your next steps.

These insights have given my clients and I clarity on when it’s time to move on and what to do next. I hope they help you too.

 

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Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.