So you’re finding yourself daydreaming about a different career path, but what’s the root issue lying underneath these daydreams? Is it harmless mind-wandering, or is it something more?
Let’s get this out of the way first — routine can be a great thing. Going to work at the same time every day and coming back home to a house that’s familiar to you and has all your favorite things inside can give you a sense of calm. Humans love patterns, and there’s nothing wrong with being satisfied with where you’re at. If you love going to work every day, you should feel accomplished! That is a feat that’s become near-unreachable to many people in the country.
On the other hand, it can be confusing if you find yourself repeatedly thinking about a different job or career path. Are you just bored and looking for a change in life? Or are you on the wrong career path entirely and need to change course? It’s tough to navigate this question, especially if you’re somewhere in the middle and don’t hate your job but dream of something more. How do you determine if it’s truly time for you to change your path and find a new calling?
Luckily, we’ve put together this article containing seven essential questions to ask yourself if this sounds like you and you think it might be time for a change. Above all, never fall victim to negative self-talk like I should have done this sooner. It’s too late to change paths now. It is never too late to pursue your dreams! Additionally, it’s worth noting that if you do decide to make a career change, you are not alone.
Why Is Everyone Quitting Their Jobs?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. However, there are a couple of reasons that seem to be the most common amongst Americans today. According to a 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center, while low compensation was the primary reason that individuals quit their employment last year, respondents cited a lack of promotion chances as a close second. Thirty-five percent of respondents also cited feeling disrespected at work as a major factor in their departure.
Burnout and Dissatisfaction
Burnout is a very real side effect of being overworked, and too many Americans are overworked at their jobs, especially post-pandemic. Following the quarantine of 2020, many employees were transferred to remote work in lieu of going into the office every day. Many employers feared this would cause a decline in productivity, but to their surprise, switching to remote work had the opposite effect.
One study conducted by the University of Chicago found that even though employees worked more hours during the height of the pandemic, productivity dropped. Being overworked coupled with already-present dissatisfaction with their jobs caused a huge number of Americans to quit their jobs and pursue different career paths. This has had somewhat of a domino effect as the pandemic has subsided, and people are still quitting their jobs in huge numbers even today.
Though it may not be because of unprecedented world events, you might find yourself in this same predicament where you’ve hit a brick wall at your current place of employment. How can you tell if this desire to switch careers is for the right reasons?
Seven Self-Reflecting Questions to Ask Yourself
We’ve arrived at the heart of the matter. What do you need to ask yourself to determine if it’s truly time for you to make a career change? All that stands between you and your ideal career is merely asking yourself the right questions. Take a few minutes to sit down and honestly answer these critical questions, and you might just discover now is the time to switch paths.
1. What Are You Passionate About?
If you’ve ever been 18 and fumbling your way through picking a major at a university, you know this question is much more difficult to answer than it seems. Sure, you’re not 18 anymore, and you have a better understanding of yourself and your strengths, but it can still be challenging to unpack this one, especially if you’ve been at your current job for a while. Luckily, there’s a simple way you can figure out your answer to this question.
What do you spend your free time thinking about? When you wake up in the morning, what gives you the most joy to think about? Think bigger than seeing your significant other or getting your favorite meal for your lunch break. What drives you as an individual? What are your curiosities? It may be worth jotting these ideas and thoughts down in a journal to keep track of all the places your mind goes. Just remember, there’s no right or wrong answer. This question is an exercise to get you thinking about what takes up the most space in your brain and in which direction you might head.
2. What Are Your Long-Term and Short-Term Goals?
Your short-term professional ambitions are directly related to your objectives or targets and everyday activities. For instance, you may desire more time in the day or less stress. Your long-term career objectives describe your ideal profession and lifestyle. Maybe you want to become a professor or a corporate executive, for instance. In that case, your current position should align with either your short-term or long-term objectives.
To determine whether your current employment corresponds with your long-term objectives, briefly describe the steps necessary to achieve them. Then, attempt to construct a rough schedule for achieving your objectives. Consider how an additional year or two of employment would affect your timeframe.
3. How Do You Really Feel About Your Current Job?
Your feelings are important and should never be ignored, especially when it comes to your job. Pushing down dissatisfaction or other problems you may have with your job will only lead to resentment over time and cause you to burn out even faster.
Is your job helping you achieve your long-term goals? Are you getting enough constructive feedback? Do you have enough personal time when you leave work? Going further, do you feel anxious or dread going to work when your weekend is over? Are you satisfied?
Almost everyone would prefer to keep the weekend going over going back to work, but you should feel content with the job you do, and it should give you a sense of fulfillment. If you leave work every day feeling overwhelmingly unfulfilled, it may be a sign that a career change is in order.
4. What Are Your Professional Needs?
Your professional needs and desires must reflect your ideal for work. Consider your income, benefits, and professional career aspirations, and assess your personal fulfillment and happiness as a result of your employment. Consider how the work-life balance afforded by your position impacts your health and relationships. Determine the relative importance of each of these issues to you. The most essential objects represent your necessities, while the other stuff represents your desires. If your current employment meets all your necessities but not your desires, you may choose to say so. If your needs are not being satisfied, you might consider a work change.
5. Is Your Work Affecting Your Self-Esteem?
If you are beginning to doubt yourself and your work, then your working environment probably needs to undergo a radical transformation. No matter the income or benefits, staying in a job or vocation that makes you feel horrible about yourself as a person is never worthwhile.
No benefit is worth feeling inferior for. This can have a significant influence on your long-term emotional health and make even the simplest tasks feel hard. A rewarding career should enhance one’s confidence and self-esteem, not diminish them. Have you begun to lose confidence in your ability to make decisions? Do you feel like your contributions or suggestions aren’t being taken seriously? Do you see no opportunity for growth or advancement at your current job? These are all indicators that a career change may be the best choice for you.
6. Is It Only for the Money?
Having enough money to live comfortably and be content is crucial, but it is not worth it to work in a profession that requires you to sacrifice your personal happiness. Having a career in which you feel you are pursuing your calling and which provides you personal and professional fulfillment will always be superior to wealth. Even with a brand-new, gleaming car, you will continue to commute to the same workplace every day. That new car isn’t going to make you find a new love for a job you hate.
7. Do You Envy Your Friends’ Jobs?
Jealousy over the jobs, careers, or work cultures of friends or family members might be an important indicator that you need to be doing something else, somewhere else. Instead of rejecting envy as a negative emotion, consider why you may feel that way. Are you envious of the job function or the motivating business culture? Is it their role’s adaptability or their creativity? Try to be as honest with yourself as possible when considering this question; it may be a really useful tool for determining where you want your own career to go.
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When You Should Reconsider
Of course, leaving a job isn’t always the right move. It could be that you just need to remember why you chose your current career in the first place. Regardless, the questions in this article will not only help you decide if you should change career paths, but they will also help you decide if you shouldn’t. If any of the following apply to you, it may be a sign to reconsider whether or not switching careers is the right move for you:
You Are Without a Plan
Although you may not absolutely need new employment before quitting, you do need a strategy for the future. For example, specify when and how you will obtain new employment, as well as the amount of labor you will perform. Additionally, you should determine how you will meet your expenses between jobs.
You Currently Have No Savings
If leaving would render you unemployed and destitute, you should stay put for the time being. Quitting without a plan to pay your debts is a gamble that will do you more harm than good.
You Are Simply Facing Roadblocks
Working for a small or expanding business frequently involves swiftly shifting tides. Several frantic months could be followed by more tranquil times. Determine if you are experiencing an unusually challenging phase or if your job is intrinsically overly demanding. If you wait it out, you may be glad that you remained.
You Are Not Thinking Rationally
In emotional moments, such as after yet another difficult encounter with a terrible customer, you may feel enraged enough to quit. However, this is not a reasonable decision. Neither is quitting due to what you perceive to be an unjust performance evaluation. Consider staying at your current job if you enjoy what you do most of the time and know you’re good at it.
Your Resume Will Suffer if You Quit
On a CV, quitting a job before you’ve been there for 6-12 months usually comes across as negative to potential employers, particularly if your resume shows a pattern of hopping from job to job. It may be advantageous to wait and look elsewhere until your resume is more robust.
A Great Career Takes a Great Amount of Reflection
After analyzing your goals and objectives objectively, considering your emotions, and speaking with friends and family, you should have a solid idea of whether or not to switch careers. Try to find happiness and contentment at work if you decide to remain in your current position. This may involve speaking with a supervisor, contacting the human resources department, getting active in career counseling outside of work, or assuming new responsibility. If you decide to switch jobs, start looking for something more suitable and submit your resume.
Deciding whether or not to switch your career path is a complex matter. You must reflect and ask yourself some very difficult questions — some that may take time to answer. However, there’s no time like the present to pursue the career you’ve always wanted. If you’re unsure of what steps to take in your career, follow the guidance in this article, and you’ll be on your way to greatness in no time.
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