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It is sometimes difficult for us to see when we are ready for a change in our lives. If we just take a step back and assess the situation, we usually get a better perspective. I spent years of my life thinking I was happy and in a longterm career only to realize it was actually the reason for all the suffering I was feeling. From personal experience, I can say that it can sometimes be impossible to tell the difference between the need for a career change or just going through a phase of boredom.
Do you feel like you might be ready for a change in your profession? If you are unsure, do not fret! After talking with friends and going through my own heartache I have come out the other side and learned a few things in the process. I have pieced together five ways to tell if it is time for a career change. Even if you are not seeing any of these warning signs but feel ready to leave than take the plunge! The great thing about changing careers is that you have the ability to do whatever you like (and there are a lot of paths to take in this world).
You are unhappy or dissatisfied.
We all have days where we are not full of joy or leave a work day not feeling satisfied with what we accomplished. This is usually not a reason to leave and typically blows over within a few days. What I mean more is if you have a chronic unhappiness, not just in work, but in life. A full-time career usually takes up 40 hours from our week. If you are unhappy for that much time in your week, it usually starts spreading in our personal lives as well.
One way to tell if this is just a phase or an ongoing trait is by asking friends and loved ones around you. Are they seeing less of you? Do they complain about your personality changing? When I was working 50 or more hours a week, I would constantly be berated for never going to events with friends or how I always seemed down when I was out and about. You should not feel an unhappiness every day of your life. This is a huge red flag that should never be ignored.
If you feel this way but don't know what to do that is okay. The first step is usually just admitting that you are dissatisfied with your career. You can make a baby step by thinking of what projects you do enjoy when you are not at work. There is a possibility for this to turn into a career path if you want it to. You can even interview at several different places to feel out what they do and if it would fit your personality and skill set. The point here is to listen to yourself and try out new things to see what will make you happy.
Always Stressed and Drained
Again, every job has its stresses. I've been writing for a little while now and I would be lying if I said it was all rainbows and butterflies. I can see now the difference between the normal day-to-day stress and the kind that causes insomnia and anxiety. You should not feel like you are about to burst out in tears or have a fit of screams every single second. Do you come home absolutely exhausted? Or do you find it hard to sleep because your thoughts won't turn off? These could be signs it is ready to move on.
One way to change things up is to first identify the key stressors in your life. Usually, there is a certain factor that is causing so much tension that could potentially be fixed. When you figure out the trigger point you could try to talk with a co-worker or boss to see if things can be changed. If this is impossible or doesn't do anything, you might look into other jobs that can. You don't have to just give up because you are stressed out. I have seen people go from hating jobs to loving them just by a switch in schedule or even career title. Just make sure you are not sitting despondently waiting for a change. It will never come that way.
Calling in Constantly or Checking Out
Do you find any excuse under the sun to call in? When you are at work, do you find yourself spacing off and checking out? This is a good indicator that you are in a profession that is not right for you. By checking out, you stop caring about the quality of work you are creating. You should have new ideas to bring to the table or an excitement for new projects. Once you stop caring about something, it becomes just a job to pay the bills.
Too many times I hear people say they are only at a place for the big paycheck they get. While finances do have to be up on our list of priorities they should not be at the top of the list. If you are only working hours to pay bills you are surviving, not living. Even worse if you find yourself calling in since you are no longer making money or caring. Don't let your life become dull! I promise you do not have to work some menial job to pay the bills. There is always a possibility of change if you work hard enough.
Even while I was working a part-time job to help in my writing career, I made sure to choose something that was enjoyable. While the job itself was not all that exciting, I had a good time and enjoyed the people who were around me. One thing we don't think about in looking for new employment is the people who work there. When you spend so much time with these people, you should be able to get along with them. If you don't, this could also be a reason you are checking out during work hours. If this is the case, it means you need to find the same career path but with different people.
Fantasize about another career.
We all want what we don't have. We want better hair, more money, bigger homes, or the ability to travel the world for free. It is okay to fantasize about these and can actually help motivate us to reach these goals. I personally hope to become more than I am and am working hard to do so. Now my fantasies actually match the path that I am on whereas they used to be in completely different spectrum's. Are your fantasies matching up with real life?
If you answered negatively, you should consider a change. While you can wish for more, that does not mean you should not be happy now. Believe it or not, you can have your cake and eat it too (otherwise why get cake?). Years back I was moving up the corporate ladder in the restaurant business but fantasizing about a career as an author. Do you see the problem with this scenario? Even if you don't accomplish that dream life, it never hurts to move closer towards it. Besides, you might find yourself enjoying the journey just as much as the destination.
There is no room for promotion.
This is an obvious red flag that we should all look out for. Some of you might be content with the position you are in right now and that is perfectly fine. However, almost everyone needs some sort of growth and movement at some point in their life. I once heard that you should never be invaluable in a position because you will never go anywhere. This used to make absolutely no sense to me until I became invaluable in my position.
For years I would get skipped when it came time for promotion. I was so distraught that I bled myself trying to become the best they had ever seen. With all this work it didn't cross my mind that they were viewing me as this indispensable accessory in the field I was currently at. Why would they want to promote me? I was doing the work of five people with less pay. Once you are indispensable, it becomes difficult to move up. Usually, if a job is not willing to move you up, there is another job that will.
Change is scary which causes us to put on blinders when looking at our lives. If you agreed with even one of these points it might be time to take your blinders off and give a good look at where you are in life. Just because you are unhappy doesn't mean you have to rush out of the job and jump into a deep end. You can even keep working there with a goal to save up money for another opportunity. Figuring out that it is time for an adjustment is the first step in doing something to improve your situation. You should never have to feel stuck in life.