Do you spend your morning commute fantasizing that this is the day you’ll finally quit your job? The first question is whether it’s the company, the job itself, or where you are in your life that you hate. Could you be happy doing your job at another organization? If you conclude that your current career will continue to leave you feeling depleted and unfulfilled, then it’s time to explore a new direction.
These ten signs will help you decide whether it’s time to consider a new career path:
1. Your health is declining
Is your job killing you—literally? In the U.S., 120,000 deaths a year could be attributed to work environments, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book, Dying for a Paycheck. Maybe you're stuck in the office working insanely long hours, having no downtime to eat properly or exercise. When your health is on the line, that's an unmistakable signal that it's time to make a change.
2. You’re not feeling challenged
Does it ever feel like you’re just coasting through the workday? Is your manager giving you projects that you could do in your sleep? Looking back over the past year, can you think of at least three enjoyable and demanding assignments that you completed at work? If not, do you really want to waste another year in a job where you feel stagnant? When your career has switched to autopilot, and you're no longer learning or growing, it might be time to find another path.
3. Your relationships are suffering
Are you a workaholic spending 80 hours in the office each week? Do your wife and kids complain that they never see you anymore? Maybe the family dog barely even recognizes you these days. If your career is sucking the life out of you, chances are you're miserable, and it's affecting the people around you. That's a definite sign to seek out other career options.
4. You can’t be authentic at work
According to Mike Robbins, the author of Bring Your Whole Self to Work, “bringing our whole selves to work means showing up authentically, leading with humility, and remembering that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can. It’s also about having the courage to take risks, speak up, ask for help, connect with others in a genuine way, and allow ourselves to be truly seen.” Does that sound like your work environment? If you feel like you’re wasting your time trying to fit in or play corporate politics, it may be time to consider a new career path.
5. Your career isn’t aligned with your values
Take a hard look at your values. Do they include things like freedom, flexibility, or creativity? Is your current career letting you live your values? In the long run, a career path that’s closely aligned with your values is the key to professional fulfillment. So, if the answer is no, it’s time to search for alternatives.
6. You fell into your current line of work
Did you choose your current career or just kind of fall into it? Findings from LinkedIn on what they call “career sleepwalking” show that 22% of Americans report that they fell into their job instead of picking it themselves. Maybe a family member helped you get your first job because you simply needed a paycheck. Or you just took the first position you could get out of college, and now you find yourself stuck. If your career seems like the result of a series of random acts rather than deliberate choices, it’s worth considering a new path.
7. The reality is different than what you imagined
Did you become a lawyer to save the world only to join a big corporate firm and become disillusioned? Or maybe you joined an ad agency thinking that you would be immersed in creativity only to find yourself stuck writing meaningless copy. If your work life isn’t living up to your expectations and you can’t imagine continuing down the same career path, you’re ready to investigate other options.
8. You’ve been dreaming of being your own boss
You've mentioned it multiple times to close friends and family, dreamt about it, and maybe even started researching business ideas. It's not just a fleeting thought but one that continues to follow you year after year. If you're ready to realize the dream of working for yourself, then it's time to chart a new course for your career.
9. You’ve been thinking about leaving behind a legacy
Does your current career seem pointless? Have you thought that you'd like to be involved in a more meaningful line of work? Most people would like to feel like they’ve made a difference in their careers. If you're struggling to identify what your legacy at work is, that may be a sign that it's time to find a new career path.
10. The thought of the status quo is worse than the thought of change
Do you feel like you’re on a career treadmill going nowhere? Have you finally reached the point where the idea of continuing down your current career path another minute is just unimaginable? Maybe you're ready to start going down a new road even if you don't exactly know what that road is just yet. Or perhaps you do know and just need to create a roadmap to get there. Either way, if staying where you are right now is not an option, you’re ready to make a change.
The thought of switching careers can be thrilling and frightening all at the same time. Change isn’t always easy—just remember that the magic happens outside your comfort zone. As the famed author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”