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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

2 Big Signs You Don't Just Need a New Job, You Need a Whole New Career


Any of this sound familiar?

  • You're currently slumped over your desk.
  • The very thought of work makes your stomach curdle.
  • When you try and muster excitement about that next PowerPoint or team meeting, you suddenly start to daydream about chucking it all and opening a bar on the beach.

Maybe it’s time for a new position.

Or, maybe it’s time for an entirely new career.

But, if changing jobs seems like a really big deal, then changing careers is that plus a thousand.

Since it’s such a big deal, you don’t want to leave behind a great field for the wrong reasons. So how do you know if it’s time to change? We’ve got you covered! Here are two signs that it’s time to leave not only the job, but the entire career.

1. You’re Frustrated at Work, But a New Job Fills You with Fatigue, Dread, Utter Boredom, or All of the Above.

Sometimes a job change can feel like a breath of fresh air: a new employee culture, a chance at a raise, a different type of manager or team. And sometimes the very thought of doing more of what you’re doing, even if you’re surrounded by a field of gold while you eat chocolate and sip champagne, drags you down.

If you think about getting a new job and the idea of doing more of the same in terms of work is draining you, then you might be in the wrong field.

Take a second and think about what’s causing you the most pain right now. Is it your environment (office space, commute), your co-workers (team members or your boss), your company in general (bad culture, terrible benefits or pay), or is it the work itself?

You know it’s the work when you sit down and can’t muster any energy to get started on a project or task. Or, when you find yourself procrastinating again and again anytime you try and start a new project. Or, when your boss says: “I have a great opportunity for you and it’s XYZ” clearly expecting you to jump for joy because it is, in fact, a great opportunity, and your first thought is: “No. No. No. No!”

That happened to me once: I was already pretty senior in my company, and my boss offered me her position. It was clearly a big deal, and also a huge sign of faith in me. But the thought of doing more of the same, even for a hefty pay raise, filled me with dread. Doing the same job at another company also filled me with dread. Doing anything in that entire industry filled me with dread. Sense a theme here? It was time to get out.

Know what I’m talking about?

If you take a look at everything and realize that the problem isn’t your commute, your boss, or your company, but the actual work itself—then it’s time to consider a different type of work.

2. You No Longer Have a Plan for Yourself

Now, when you think about where you want to be in five years, your only answer is: “Not doing anything like this.”

Sometimes certain jobs are difficult, or not a great match, or a slog for awhile. Medical residents probably don’t love working all the hours under the sun, but it’s part of the process to get that education. They know going into medicine that they will have a rough few years.

The same is true for a lot of entry-level positions in many industries—at the start you might find yourself doing a lot of grunt work, instead of the really interesting stuff.

But, when you think about where you could be in five years, you still have an interest. You can see a path forward, a job that will come your way, or a change in circumstance that happens after you pay your dues, and you feel good about it.

Then you are OK, and can chalk job dissatisfaction up to a rough patch, a bad moment, or part of learning on the job.

So, think about the future for a second. Does it seem brighter if you look five years down the road? Are you excited about opportunities that’ll come your way? Or, do you feel like you have no plan, and the thought of having more responsibility or experience makes you want to run and hide?

If you nodded your head at the last question, it’s time to move on.

It’s completely OK to change fields! In today’s world, multiple careers (not just multiple jobs) are becoming far more common. New options are being created by technology all the time, as old ones slowly vanish. Remember travel agents? Or the Yellow Pages? Exactly. But now we have social media managers and Facebook experts. We have solar power on your houses and battery-operated cars. Not to mention controlling your thermostat from your iPhone! I’m saying all this so you can feel reassured that there’s an opportunity out there for you.

Your job now is to watch the signs, and if you know it’s time, then don’t be afraid take the leap. Remember: You deserve to find work you love, and not just do work you’re meh about.

(And, if you need help with finding work you love, here’s a free fancy-pants workbook with six simple steps to get you started.)