If you found yourself asking as of late, “Should I change careers?” chances are you already know the answer to that question. Being in the wrong career is like carrying a great weight with you wherever you go. It grows heavier over time, leaving your work-life precariously out of balance. Yet, after 10 to 15 years invested in a less than satisfactory career, and even the wrong one, many people are tentative or reluctant to move on. In truth, if you are 35 or 55, it’s never too late to move into a career that will bring you happiness. Whether you are approaching midlife or already there, it is a time in life for self-reflection and evaluation about what you want from a career.
For many reasons, people are changing careers with increasing frequency, across every age group. Today, by the time Americans have entered their 40s, most have already made a dramatic career shift, and nine out of ten of them are happy that they did so. It’s not just their 40s, many people are embarking on new careers in their 50s, and taking skills and years of experience with them. People are living longer and making the decision to work longer doing something they find more meaningful.
If you are on the fence about switching your career—even in your 40s and 50s—the good news is that there is still plenty of time to do so. Here are 8 signs, in no particular order, it’s absolutely time to change your career:
- Financial Security and Compensation
Simply put, you know it’s time to change careers if the compensation you receive from your current one offers limited financial security. One of the prime reasons people change careers is for a greater opportunity to earn more money. Salary and benefits do matter. This is particularly important for people in their 40s or 50s whose salaries may have plateaued, along with their careers, with limited chance of advancement. When career change can secure greater pay and benefits, there is no reason to stick around.
2. Work Doesn’t Excite You
We all hit a wall from time to time on the job, but if you find yourself wondering what you’re doing with your life every time you go to work, it’s a good sign that it’s time to change careers. You shouldn’t be bored every single day on the job. If your work has devolved into routine tasks or you lack motivation for projects you once found exciting, or your career has stalled out, you owe it to yourself to find something more fulfilling.
3. The Proverbial Sunday Night Blues
For those people engaged in a meaningful career, Sunday night is usually a time to organize, plan, and look forward to the week ahead. Come Sunday night, if you start to feel anxious or uneasy, and it’s because of having to go into work the next morning, you’re not alone. Nearly four out of five people experience some type of anxiety Sunday evenings, and three out of five of them know that feeling is directly related to a sense of borderline dread over the upcoming workweek. If you’re feeling the Sunday night blues week in and week out, it’s time for a career change.
4. You Don’t Fit In
Try as you might, every day at work you play the part of a satisfied employee. Each day you arrive on time, ably perform the tasks assigned to you, and do your best to present yourself as an eager team member to your colleagues. But if you have to leave the real you outside the building every morning to fit in when you enter, then it’s a sure sign that a career change is in order. There comes a time when you realize that the company culture is incompatible with who you are and it’s time for a job that allows you to be you.
5. There is No Future
When you began on your career path, implicit was, through hard work and dedication, the career ladder before you could be climbed and advancement would come your way. But with a decade behind you, and only a few rungs up the ladder, one day you’re struck by the realization that there simply never was that many rungs on the ladder to begin with and that there is nowhere else to climb. In such an environment lacking opportunity for growth and professional development, it’s time for another career path.
If you find yourself second-guessing what you’re doing throughout the day, it’s a good sign that it’s time for a change. Though you have become accustomed to what you’re doing, and you do it exceptionally well with confidence, you still find more of your time is dedicated to wondering why you’re doing it. If you’re second-guessing your career choice throughout the day, you are ready to visit a career change counselor to discuss the possibilities and opportunities a career change can bring.
7. Stress and Burnout
Another sure sign that a career change is overdue is when the job has become too stressful. If your work-life balance has tilted heavily into the work side of things, it’s a sure sign to seek change. Tight deadlines, meeting constant quotas, long hours, with a threat of losing the job hanging in the balance can cause immense physical and mental stress. It’s time for a change.
8. Finding Something More Meaningful
As people age, the career that once may have held meaning can begin to lose its purpose. It may be for any number of reasons, but what they are doing has become stale, repetitive, and routine. The truth is, many people in their 40s and 50s have discovered that it’s not too late to pursue a career that will bring passion and meaning to their lives. With the proper tools, counseling, and direction, it can be achieved easier than once imagined. Wanting what you do to have more meaning is a sign of a career change.
Looking for guidance during your career change process? Core Themes can help. Our comprehensive four-phase methodology is designed to bring meaning and purpose to the lives of people just like you.