Are you thinking of changing your career path? Here are 24 signs that it’s time to change your career path + tips, encouragement, and thoughts around career change.
Related: What is the purpose of work?
It can be a frightening feeling or realization when you realize that you want to change your career path. Especially if you’ve already invested many years into learning, getting relevant education, and developing all the necessary skills; only to now want to leave.
Perhaps you even strongly identify with your work and work title; so much that it feels like changing a career would be like killing a part of your identity.
I’ve experienced the same thing. A part of me always wants to hold on to old dreams and job titles for dear life, not wanting to let all that time and energy that I’ve already invested go to waste. But another part of me knows that it’s normal to change your wants, needs, and dreams. As time goes on, we change as well.
What I, or you, wanted 5-10 years ago (or even a shorter amount of time than that), may not at all be what fits us today.
And what you do for work is important for your happiness and well-being. On average, we all spend so much of our lives at work. Our entire existence is affected by the work we do, and life feels better when we work with something that feels meaningful and fulfilling.
Some people say that they can entirely separate work from play, and only need satisfaction and enjoyment from hobbies and activities outside of work. But some people, like me, cannot separate happiness and life enjoyment in that way.
I need to feel that the work I do everyday feels good in my gut. Otherwise, I feel as though I am throwing away my life and time. Perhaps you feel the same? Then this article is likely to speak to you more highly.
Let us take a closer look at this topic. I hope that this article can help give you a bit more clarity into your own thoughts and reasoning, as well as contribute to some practical tips to lean on.
24 Signs that it’s time to change your career path
Every situation and person is different, but here are some signs that may indicate that it’s time for you to change your career path and do something different:
- You are feeling despair about your job
- You feel like you are not doing what you are meant to be doing in life
- You’re not happy with how you spend your time at work
- You are embarrassed about your work
- You feel like you are letting talent and skills go to waste
- You can’t imagine doing that job for more than a few years and hope to retire as soon as possible
- You feel numb and uninspired by the work you do day to day
- You feel like the work you do is meaningless and empty
- You feel stuck
- You are apathetic at work and have stopped caring
- You hate waking up in the mornings because of work
- You avoid going to sleep because you don’t want to wake up for another day of work
- You feel like your work situation doesn’t fit your personality
- You tell yourself that you would leave if you could
- The work you do feels unauthentic and wrong to do
- You are only keeping the job because of the social status it gives
- No amount of compensation is enough to make you feel like it’s worth it
- You are depressed because of your job and lifestyle
- You daydream about doing another thing for a living
- You are always bored and counting the minutes go pass
- Your body is always tired or too stressed and it hinders you from enjoying life
- Your job is having a negative impact on your self-esteem
- You’ve become disconnected from your passions and hobbies
- You are jealous of other people’s jobs and happiness at work
As you can see, if you experience multiple or almost all of these 24 signs in your work life then it’s probably time for you to change your career path; or at least job.
Is this the kind of life you want to be living until you die? It’s a miserable and depressing way to live. I absolutely believe that you can find work that you enjoy doing happily, that feels meaningful, and that doesn’t make you hate living.
Of course, in some situations you may need to stick it out for the sake of providing a living for your family or if you’re in a very bad financial place. But even in these scenarios, there are things you could do to make it possible for you to go through a career change.
Should you quit your job right away and figure the rest out on the go?
Some people may feel so miserable in their current jobs that they may feel the need to quit cold-turkey and wing it out until they find something else to do. And why not? If you have the financial means to do so, I am all for it.
Life is too short to go around being miserable and hating life for any additional weeks, months, or years than absolutely necessary.
Once you’ve quit your job, you may need some time to relax and recover. It’s a big mental change and you may not immediately feel fully reset right after you’ve quit your job.
But when you’re not tied down to a specific job anymore, you have so much more mental space, time, and energy to try out new things, experiment, or build something new from scratch. It’s hard to fully dive into new things while staying at your old place.
If you do not have the financial means or possibilities to quit your job right away, then I’d suggest you start saving up money and doing scouting work and experimenting with passions on the side. You can start a side-project while you’re still earning money from your old job, to test the waters and see what you’d actually want to do.
10 Questions to ask yourself to figure out your new career path
Once you’ve realized that it’s time for you to change your career path, then it’s also a good plan to start thinking right away about what you’d want to do instead. Most of us aren’t financially independent, at least not to such a degree that we could go forever without any additional income.
So, how do you know what you want to do next? What has always worked for me is to ask myself questions, visualize, and tap into my gut intuition.
Here are 10 questions you can ask yourself to figure out what career change you want to make:
- What would your ideal dream life look like?
- What would you do for work if money, time, and education didn’t matter?
- Do you have any people you look up to or are inspired by? What do those people do that inspires you? You could turn that into a job for yourself?
- Are you jealous of someone else’s job? Perhaps that’s where you want to be yourself.
- When you were little, what dream job did you have?
- What would feel meaningful for you to contribute to the world?
- How would you prefer to help other people?
- What are your natural skills, talents, and passions? Could you utilize them in a specific career or job?
- If you knew you’d die in two years, but still had to work until then, what type of work would you do?
- When you’re dead, what would you want people to remember you for?
Once you’ve gotten some ideas of what type of work you’d ideally be doing, you could try visualization.
Visualization is when you imagine yourself in another reality (fantasy). Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to be that person you want to be.
How would your days look from morning to night? What things would you be doing during your work days? How does that make you feel? Do you feel happy and excited by the thought? If yes, then that’s definitely a way that you could try moving in.
Are you afraid of other people’s judgement?
I think it’s pretty common to be worried about other people’s negative comments and judgements when we make any big changes to our lives. Sometimes, people may butt in with their opinions and project their own worries and thoughts onto you.
Some advice in this case that you can take or leave as you wish is:
- Move in silence. You don’t need to tell everyone, or even anyone what your plans are. They will know and can see for themselves after you’ve made your change.
- Refrain from asking other people for their opinion about what you’re supposed to do or not. This is your life, your choice, and your decision to make. Of course you can ask for advice as you see fit, but just know that no one else knows you as you do yourself.
- Only share with those you know support you and want the best for you. Sometimes, by making big decisions for ourselves, that may trigger bad reactions in others. This is not only for career change; if you for example were to lose a lot of weight, then that could also trigger jealousy and anxiety in other people (maybe they themselves wished they could do that). So, sometimes, it may be more peaceful to keep things from some people.
Losing social status & comparing with others
Losing social status and prestige
It’s also a common fear to feel a sense of threat of losing social status and prestige by changing career paths. We may have gained a sense of higher self-worth and a better self-image by achieving certain qualifications and work titles in our lives. And we may have used those things as a measurement of how well it’s going for us in life compared to others.
To then voluntarily let go of such an ego boosting thing can be challenging; even if you know you sincerely want to.
But it’s important to remember that you are not your ego. In cases like these you may benefit from practicing distancing yourself from your ego and the things you identify yourself with.
The truth is that all of the things that we consider to give higher social status in modern society are just mental constructs of this time. Every single company name and work title is made up, fabricated, and then being valued according to our own belief systems.
In truth, I don’t even think we should ever identify ourselves with any job titles or outer achievements. We can be happy about them, proud of the effort and work we’ve put into achieving something we’ve wanted to; but we do not need to attach our own self worth and perceived value as a human being based on those things.
I also don’t think we should judge other people based on those things either; because they are such arbitrary measurements of value.
By taking a step away from social constructs and social status, you may find it easier to do whatever you want in life. If you do not attach your self worth to you job title or status, then you have nothing to lose by changing career paths. You are just changing your life circumstances and the experiences you get from life.
How to stop comparing to others
It’s also easy to compare one’s own achievements to other people’s; especially our peers’. We may feel like we are ”loosing” time or taking a step back by changing career paths, while everyone else is moving forward.
But it’s not a step back, it’s actually a step forward. Or no step at all, since time doesn’t really exist, and it isn’t linear. But mentally, I think changing your life for the better should be categorized as positive self development. And having made what feels like ”wrong” choices in the now, may have been exactly what you needed to do at that time, in order to keep developing.
Remind yourself that other people’s lives, careers, dreams, and goals are not your own. They have their own wants and needs; and so it is impossible to rightfully compare another person’s achievements to yours.
Some people may measure human success by the amount of money earned and accumulated, by diplomas received, or by how far up in a corporate ladder you’ve gone. But none of those things have an objective value except for the value we give them in our minds.
If every single human died, and nothing and no one was left with the memory of what we as a society has valued, then such outer achievements would truly be distinct as well. That’s the evidence to how arbitrary such things are. Take a step back from them, and gain perspective and more personal freedom to do and be whatever you want to be.
In general, I think it’s good to remind yourself that you’re on your own path. Life doesn’t have a right or wrong, but you have to ask yourself; do you want to continue living a life you hate experiencing, or do you want to take action and create a life for yourself that you want to live for? It’s your choice.
Best of luck!