Finding Satisfaction at Work: When Is the Right Time for a Career Change?

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Tracey Clayton, WED |  Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of time we spend at work? Most of us normally work eight hours a day, sometimes even more. If you do the math, you’ll see that’s basically a third of our lives. And that’s definitely an awful lot of time to spend doing something you don’t love. But changing careers is a huge move. It can be extremely difficult to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Let’s take a look at a few sure signs that it’s time to turn over a new leaf, and how best to deal with it.

  • You don’t feel fulfilled

Lacking satisfaction and pride in what you do is the number one reason why people should consider a career change. While there are other valid reasons, this one is crucial. Only love for your job can keep you happy in the long run. Better working conditions and a higher salary are great, but the satisfaction they bring is short-lived. The question you should be asking is this: is this my dream job? If I could do anything, what would I do? Think of a job that would make you happy. That is the job you should be pursuing. Consider realistically what you need to do to get that job, and you will most likely find that it’s totally achievable. One of the best choices would be getting into Ivy League colleges to get a better education. That can affect your financial security for a while, but you can do it if you work hard and believe in yourself.

  • Money is tight

Feeling fulfilled is one part of the equation, and financial gain is the other. Regardless of how much you love your job, it’s clear that you need to be able to make a living. When you work, you are putting a price on your time, effort, and expertise. If you are struggling to make ends meet, then that price is obviously not high enough. Maybe the field you are working in is not lucrative enough, or maybe your current employer makes Mr. Krabs look generous. Of course, you can always just try asking for a raise. If that’s not an option, or if your request is declined, it’s time to look elsewhere.

  • Your job is affecting your health

Sometimes, in the long run, leaving a job is literally a matter of life and death. There are various reasons why your health could be suffering at work. Some people do obviously dangerous jobs. Others work with toxic materials or in environments that could potentially cause chronic illnesses down the line. Most often though, it’s a more subtle situation. Are you constantly under stress? Are you feeling exhausted? Are you eating too much or too little? Do a regular, annual check-up. If the stress and the workload are starting to take a toll on your health, consider a change of pace.

  • Your productivity is suffering

The jury is in: happy employees are productive employees. Do you find yourself stalling and procrastinating? Do you seem to be spending a ton of time at work, but very little actually gets done? Look for a career that you feel enthusiastic about.

  • You feel envious

Do you find yourself feeling jealous of other people’s achievements at work? Do you covet their careers or even just the way they seem to be enjoying their job? If you find that you are constantly comparing yourself to others, and are left feeling lacking afterwards, that’s a signal that you aren’t happy with where you are in life. It’s basically a vicious circle, because comparison can even lead to anxiety and depression.

  • You don’t see a future in the same job

Let’s face the facts and be frank. Sometimes, it’s possible you are just stuck at a dead-end job. Not every job equals a career. It’s okay to not even want a career. But if you do want it, if you feel like you should be going forward, but you’re standing still, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Of course, if you are just starting out, then you need to stick it out for a while and carve out a place for yourself. But if you are truly stuck at a job that offers no professional development opportunities, no chance of a promotion or a raise, and nothing new to learn, then that can obviously discourage even the most enthusiastic employee.

A change of career is a huge move, but not an impossible one. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be all roses. Try to think about it realistically. List the changes you actually need to make in order to make it happen. Remember that it will require a lot of hard work, and that you will be starting from scratch. However, if you truly want it, then go for it. Life is too short for us to spend it doing a job we hate.