Career change tips: knowing when it's time to move on
Sometimes in life we just have to take a deep breath and move on to better things. Whether it’s a relationship turning sour or those slim fit jeans from five years ago that you still can’t get back into. Sometimes you just need to accept that it’s time for a change and move on.
Updated on: 15th November 2019
Your professional life is no exception. So, as the likelihood of working 40-years in the same job and retiring with a gold watch disappears into an expired generational ideals sunset, a new dawn approaches. One where changing careers later in life is no longer the rarity and instead a new common leap that many of us take to shake things up and find our true calling. But, how do you know when it’s time to make a move? Well, here’s six signs to look out for that mean it’s probably time to move on. Hopefully giving you the motivation you need to get started with some online training, quit your job and take the plunge.
1. You’re losing a sense of who you are
Maybe someone else has noticed a change in you or made a comment about how you’re not your usual self. Maybe you just feel like you lack purpose and are generally flat. Here’s the thing, when you start a new job it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘newness’. Everything’s fresh, exciting and you feel energised. You’re also likely to feel an overwhelming sense of belonging – that you’re part of the bigger picture. Then slowly over time, as one day merges into the other you feel all of that enthusiasm slipping away. You feel deflated, undervalued, until you realise…. you just don’t care anymore. Sound familiar?
Well, the good news is that feeling a drop in energy is actually quite normal. The newness of a job will never stick around forever. The bad news? If you’re feeling this loss of self the majority of the time at work, then you may be in the wrong line of work. The trick to being happy at work is doing something that you find fulfilling and challenging, so when that job honeymoon period is over you still get a kick out of what you do.
We spend the majority of our time working, so what we do for a living really does impact our overall well being and sense of purpose. Careers are important in shaping us and heading in the wrong direction can leave us flat and uninspired. Don’t let a career you hate become your identity and take this as a sign it’s time to move on and make that career change.
2. You absolutely dread Monday mornings
Now, let’s get this straight. Not many people bounce out of bed in joyous harmony on a Monday morning. No matter how much you love your job, that Monday morning alarm is never going to be your best friend. Regardless of how much sleep you’ve had, coffee you can stomach and how amazing the weekend was – you’re always going to feel a little peeved and that’s okay.
What’s not normal however is hating Monday so much, you ruin your Sunday thinking about its inevitable arrival. You then lose sleep over worrying about the next day and absolutely dread that alarm. Simply put, if you’re having a nervous breakdown before breakfast then it’s pretty obvious your employer or the career path you’ve chosen isn’t for you. Life is too short to be anxious about work and you don’t want to be spending the rest of your life starting your week on a bad footing. Start planning your escape now by searching for any training you need to make the jump.
3. You avoid socialising with ‘successful’ friends
We all have those friends who just seem to know what they’re doing. They either always knew what they wanted to do or had the bravery to make a big career change when you didn’t. So, bully for them, they now have their dream career and are always gushing about how amazing their line of work is. Ugh… ‘shut up already’ you think as you smile through gritted teeth over a pint you know you can’t really afford. You love them and all but being around them just reminds you of what you are NOT doing.
In your mind they’re the problem in this scenario, but turn that lens around my friend… it’s you.
If you truly feel like this around your friends then you are most definitely the problem. More specifically, you’re not doing what you need to do to be happy in your job is the problem. Stop being a Jealous Julie and start taking steps to enjoy your career. After all the only thing worse than resenting your career is resenting your friends.
4. You are unhappy most of the time
It’s simple really. Like any relationship, if you’re unhappy most of the time then it doesn’t matter how good the best bits are – it’s time to move on. However, there’s not need to jump ship right away if this is the only sign. It’s probably a good idea to at least attempt to resolve any areas that can be improved at work. For example, have you actually raised any specific concerns or discussed how you feel with your manager? Give them a chance to improve things and if you still feel unhappy – well, you know what to do.
Still not sure if it’s time to move on? If you prefer a more logical approach then why not apply the 90-day rule. Essentially if you are unhappy for more than 90 consecutive days it is time to make a move and seriously start planning your exit, whether that is a new job in the same vocation or a total career change.
5. You just don’t care – you feel nothing, nothing I tell you!
Of course the most obvious reason for a career change is that you just. don’t. care.
It may begin with a lack of pride which turns into employment nihilism or the quality of your work dipping to the point where you are being handed your P45. Maybe you’re just taking each day as it comes just to receive your pay cheque. But when work is a huge part of your life and ranges from a quarter to all of your waking day, is that what you really want to do?
This is a difficult one, because if you’ve reached this phase you are likely to be lacking the energy to actually do anything about it. If you have any holiday owed, consider taking some time out to get some distance on things and reflect on what you want. This may help you reach a decision to either step up your game at work or seriously consider a career change.
6. You daydream a lot about a career change
Often caught in a mindless stare across the office as you daydream about an elaborate Bridget Jones or Jerry Maguire style exit? Thinking, ‘but imagine if I could do that for a living?’ And trying to get your head around the idea that, yes, people can earn that much for doing something they love. Well, daydreamer maybe it’s time to start putting the wheels in motion so you can dream less and do more. Often it’s just a case of finding out the steps you need to take to get the skills and training you need. You may even be surprised at the entry level roles available or online training courses that can get you on the right path in your spare time.
Security and paying the bills is one thing but if you feel you will always be asking yourself “what if?” then it’s time to move on. Especially if the boss has noticed you doodling absentmindedly for the fifth time that week. Time to make that decision before someone makes it for you.
Time to get your career back on track
Change is scary but nearly always leads to something good. Rarely will you speak to someone that made a bold move in their career late in life who isn’t pleased they took the leap. Don’t believe us? Here’s a few inspirational quotes to help gear you up for getting your new career path back on track:
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Confucius)
“Desire! That’s the one secret of every…career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.” (Johnny Carson)
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. (Milton Berle)
You are the entrepreneur of your career, even if you are employed by others. (@ElisaSDavis)
We may live in an ever evolving work economy but there has never been a better time to follow a career that inspires you. If you are experiencing some of these signs and feel like it’s time for a change, there really is nothing holding you back anymore – there are so many great job opportunities out there for the taking and fantastic online training courses that enable you to arm yourself with the skills you need to take the leap. Besides, with all the negativity in the world why wait… if something inspires you, pursue it.