If you’re faced with a sense of dread as soon as your alarm goes off or you spend every day watching the minutes tick by, chances are you are in the wrong job.
It can be hard to change jobs or even careers, particularly when you have rent, bills, or a mortgage to pay. Other responsibilities, such as a family to support, can also make a change difficult. It’s also challenging to work out exactly what you want to do, or what job you can apply your skills and experience to.
Being in a job you don’t enjoy can have a significant impact on your confidence and self-esteem, which can make finding, applying, and interviewing for a new position seem even more daunting. Likewise, you might feel fairly settled in your current job — whether you like it or not.
So how do you know if it’s the right time to change your job or your career — and what else should you consider beforehand?
"If your current career doesn't align with your values and beliefs, it could be time for a change,” according to Helen Campbell, a coach working with people in creative careers at Jazz Cat Coaching.
“Describe your ideal working day, and then notice the differences between that and what you do now. What could you change? Map out the options and cost it up too,” Campbell said.
It’s helpful to work out exactly why you’re considering changing jobs.
“If you seek more money and flexibility, but you actually love your current job, could you negotiate what you want and need with your boss?”
“If, however, your role does not meet your ethical values or you feel like you can't fulfil your potential there, then mapping out an escape plan might be a good idea,” Campbell said.
It’s also important to keep check of your physical and mental health, particularly if you’ve been struggling with ill health for a prolonged period.
“Symptoms such as tiredness, lack of enthusiasm, irritability, and so on can indicate that you've lost your passion — working with a coach can help identify what's really going on and find ways to bring joy back to your working life,” Campbell said.
Rebecca Kirk, a life and career coach, explained that it might be time to consider a big change if you don’t have a “clear why” for being in your career anymore — and perhaps never have.
It might be that you have tried to make changes in your current job and keep coming back to the same crossroads.
“Here are some ways you can sense check whether it’s time to change career,” Kirk said. “You are in your current career for reasons which no longer serve you, for example, [or] others expect it of you. When you look back on your last few jobs in this career, you see a clear pattern of disconnection and/or poor work-life balance.”
There may be something else you are being “called to do” — “even if you’re terrified by the thought of it,” she said.
It’s important to consider a few factors before changing jobs or careers, including assessing your experience so you can apply your skills to a new role. If you want to completely change fields, you may have to gain new qualifications. Nothing is impossible, but it’s crucial to work out the impact of this change on your time and finances.
It is also a good idea to speak to people who are already doing the job or career you want, to find out what the role really entails — such as the hours, workload, and work-life balance. The perfect job for you might not be so perfect after all.
Do your homework about the industry, too. The job you want may not be an easy field to get into if there aren’t many positions available.
“Here are some ideas for you to start taking action which will bring you more clarity, motivation, and confidence to move forward with. Consider what your values are and what would motivate you and make you feel more connected in your future career,” Kirk said.
“Get quiet. Spending some time — even five minutes — without distraction to let the clarity emerge on what to do next,” she said. “Start planning your career move. Do a survival budget and list out the options — you don’t have to just quit, you could transition into a new career over time.”