Changing careers can be scary, especially in these uncertain times. But staying in a bad situation because it seems safe (for the time being, at least) can hurt your long-term career.
To bring back the joy for your work, sometimes all you need is a new boss, new challenge or new culture, not a 180-degree career change. However, if you’re suffering from any of the following symptoms, you could be ready for the greener grass of a new career field:
1. Disinterest and dread
I’m completely uninterested in new projects. I flee the office at 5 pm on the dot. I’ve taken more sick days than holidays in the past year.
If any of these statements apply to you, you’re probably breaking the 80/20 rule of job satisfaction! Here’s the idea: while no job is perfect, you should be engaged with at least 80 percent of your work. If your ratio is well below the 80 percent line, it’s a sign you might be on the wrong career track.
2. You’re not learning anything new
If you’re not getting the opportunity to grow, you’ve got to find a way out. Your stalled or stunted progress could be related to your current company — in which case it’s time to find a new place to work. But if the role itself doesn’t give you the chance to advance and transform, start looking for your next move.
3. It’s just not a good fit anymore
Life situations change all the time. Marriages, illnesses, births, moves, and more can mean big shifts in your personal priorities. Even if your career was perfect before, it may not be a good match now. If you find yourself in a career area that no longer syncs with your situation, it’s a good idea to explore new options.
4. You can’t make enough money
If you’ve hit the salary-ceiling and still aren’t making the money you need, the only escape is to take your skills elsewhere. You can look for ways to move sideways in your company, but heading in a new direction is often the practical route.
Because this type of career change is about big-picture benefits, not instant gratification, it’s important to go in with your eyes open. As a newcomer, you may need to invest in further training or start at a relatively lower pay-grade. But the long-term growth opportunities can outweigh these initial hurdles.
5. Stress levels are through the roof
Some jobs are stressful. Some companies are stressful. Some entire industries are stressful. If you’re in a field where the pressure is always on red alert, it can spell danger for your work productivity and personal health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronically stressful environment can damage your physical and mental wellbeing. High stress levels have been linked to depression, anxiety, obesity and even cancer. So if your current career makes you want to curl up under your desk, get out for the sake of your health.
6. You don’t ever have a sense of satisfaction
Even if you’re only contributing a small piece to a much larger puzzle, you should feel like your work matters. If you’ve lost the sense that your job has positive meaning -- or worst still, feel like your job conflicts with your personal principles -- it’s time to take a step back and make a change.
7. Your ship is sinking
Is your industry taking a slow-motion nosedive into oblivion? If you suspect (or know for a fact) that demand for your career field is dwindling, take a good, hard look at your options. If you can proactively retrain and embrace adaptability, you’ll be in a much better position to make a graceful getaway to a hardier, and happier, career.