When you consider how much of your life is spent at work, you should be able to enjoy your career. If you spend 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at work, that equates to almost 2100 hours per year, which can seem to be a heavy burden when that much time is spent doing something you loathe. Some of the more common reasons individuals have for changing careers include a desire for more meaningful work, a more flexible and family-friendly schedule, and the need to share personal experiences and achievements with the younger generation (Lee, 2011). It can be a challenge when determining if it is a good time to change careers. While there are some instances in which it is necessary to stay in a career which brings little joy, through planning and conscious effort, changes can be made.
Career Change Considerations
When considering a change in careers, unless your current place of employment is abusive or causing undue stress, it is usually a good idea to stay at your current position until you either find new employment or begin advanced education needed to attain your intended position. According to a National Public Radio report, those who are currently employed often obtain new employment faster than those who are unemployed during the interview process (Ydstie, 2010).
Assess the Situation
In order to be the most prepared for making the decision to change careers, there are a few things to assess prior to making the choice to leave or stay.
● Examine your current position and make a list of what is good about it, as well as the things you wish were not present in the position. Such items to address include the possibility for growth and promotion from within, the working environment itself, and also the job duties. Create a list of the duties and characteristics you desire to be present in your next job, as well as those which you hope are not present.
● Assess the skills you have acquired over the years and identify the skills you want to learn. How do your current skills align with the desired skillset for the careers or positions you have in mind? If your current skills do not adequately match up with your intended or ideal job, seek out ways to acquire the needed skills through formal educational courses or vocational training.
● With the changing environment of the job market and relatively high unemployment, it is suggested that you assess the job market in which you desire to join, prior to leaving your current position. Some aspects to consider include the number of job vacancies in the field, training required, average salaries, and the insight that can only be provided by someone who is already in the field.
Once you have assessed the above aspects of your intended career, it is time to develop an action plan to make the switch. If possible, approach the action plan with a one-year timeframe, as it will allow you to work on the needed skills and assess the stability of the career you have in mind. During this time, it would be advised to either work part time or even volunteer in your desired field if possible.
Taking the Next Step
During the period of transition during a career change, it is normal to experience a variety of emotions, such as fear and anxiety. However, these do not have to be negative events, as productive fear allows you to see potential dangers and gives you the opportunity to assess the situation and the steps you can take to diminish the risk of experiencing a negative outcome. One useful antidote to the fear you could be experiencing is to take action in making a career change. Rather than procrastinating, taking purposeful action towards your intended goal can stifle the worry and anxiety that can often occur when taking a passive role in life. However, it is important to remember that there is a difference between procrastinating and gathering pertinent information required to make the change.
When making life changes, such as a switch in careers, it is essential to pay attention to the psychological aspect, which can often be easily ignored as we focus more on the change than our internal state. By utilizing positive thinking and acknowledging and letting go of past failures, success is more likely to occur. One useful exercise consists of asking yourself, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Through asking this question, you can begin to explore the your career changing goals.
Lee, D. (2011). Changing course: Reflections of second-career teachers. Current Issues in Education, 14(2).
Ydstie, J. (2010, November 17). Job seekers find bias against the unemployed [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2010/11/16/131367533/some-will-only-hire-if-you-already-have-a-job