A career change is not the same thing as a job change. It’s a reboot–a wholesale change of employer, job duties and job title.
When should you consider such a big project?
Here are three signs to watch for:
1. STAGNATION. You’ve had the same job title, same job duties and same employer for 10+ years. Your career feels stuck on autopilot. A stagnant career is not a healthy one, especially if the economy shifts and you have nowhere to go to sell your skills and experience. Now is the time to explore options. It doesn’t mean you have to change now but it does help to be ready if or when you want to shift. A career change can take most people 9-24 months. Don’t underestimate the time needed to identify a new career target and then market yourself to that target.
2. FRUSTRATION. You aren’t doing work you enjoy. Your core job duties drain you rather than energize you. You have little energy at the end of your day or week to give to your family or friends or hobbies/interests. It feels like all you do is work, sleep, eat, and veg out. You feel like you should do other things but can’t find the motivation or energy to do so. These are clear signs that your job is not a good fit, You might be on the path to burnout or worse. The cause of your burnout might be the job itself or it might be the circumstances/environment that you work in—they are not the same thing. Your job environment can be fixed through better coping strategies, renegotiating your working conditions, changing employers, or other means. But if what you do day in and day out in terms of your job duties is draining you, then you should explore other jobs that require skills and knowledge in alignment with your natural talents and interests.
3. RELOCATION. The kind of work you want to do is not available in your current location. But you feel tied down due to family obligations, fear of failure, lack of finances, whatever. Or, you want a better work-life balance in a preferred location. Or, you hate the climate or culture of your current location and feel a strong desire to relocate but don’t know where to go or what to do. Changing careers might be one option. But advancing in your current career into a similar job with a new employer in a better location might also be an option. It’s just that the prospect of change seems overwhelming to you now. Just know that many people pivot to jobs in other locations. You are part of a workforce that is very mobile. It takes planning and commitment but it is do-able. For example, I’m currently working with a client that set a goal to relocate from Canada to the UK to work as a nurse. Although trained as a nurse, she has not worked as one for over a decade. So, there are many obstacles to overcome…but we put together a 2 year plan that involves milestones each step of the way and she has derived great satisfaction from achieving those milestones. She is on target to relocate with a job in hand by end of this year. In the meantime, she has continued to work, live and play. But, this project has been the highlight of her life for that past few years. Relocating can be fun and invigorating!
Stagnation, frustration or the desire for relocation are all signs that you might be ready to explore a career change. Remember, exploring a career change is not the same as making a career change. One comes before the other.
Good decisions take time. Seek the help of people who specialize in change. They can help you plan and pivot for success!