young man frustrated with job and needing a career change“I’m giving up too soon. I need to give this place a chance.”

“I just graduated. Why do I already feel like I’m on the wrong path?”

“Things will change. I just need to give it time.”

“Maybe being happy at work is just a pipe dream.”

Have you made statements like these before? To feel out of place in your chosen field is not uncommon. Nearly everyone, especially early in their careers, has doubts. You wonder if you chose your field wisely. You question if you picked the right employer. You doubt you have the skills to succeed.

Questioning yourself is human nature. Self-reflection is how we learn from our choices and make better ones in the future.

However, if this questioning never abates, if it’s gone on for months or even years, it’s time to ask if a career change is the next logical step.

If one or more of the following applies to you, it may be time to make a change:

  1. No matter how hard you look, you see no path forward at your current job. You’ve asked for your boss’s help defining your career goals — and she’s offered none. When you interviewed for the job, a career path was described to you, but that hasn’t panned out. A job promotion opened up, but you were passed over by someone with less experience and tenure than you.
    Questions to ask: How likely am I to be promoted? What’s the turnover like here? Are my coworkers leaving because they haven’t gotten anywhere either?  
  2. You’re bored out of your mind at work. Unless you’re an international spy stealing state secrets, you will run into boredom at work from time to time. But if it’s become the norm rather than the exception, it might be time for a career change.
    Questions to ask: Is this boredom just a phase or has it gone on for several months? Am I challenged by my job? If not, can I do anything to challenge myself?
  3. You can’t pay basic bills, much less plan for your future. Perhaps the pay seemed great when you accepted the job. Perhaps you were new to adulting and you didn’t know how much you’d need to fund your everyday needs. Maybe you got married, had a baby, moved to a more expensive city. Any number of things can drive up your expenses. If you can’t seem to get ahead, make headway on student loans, save up for a home down payment, or put aside anything in savings, something needs to change.
    Questions to ask: Will I be getting a raise at my next annual review? If so, will it make a big enough difference in my earnings? Can I earn more, either by learning new skills, negotiating harder, or proving my value to my employer?
  4. Your anxiety spikes every Sunday night. Everyone enjoys the freedom of the weekend. It’s not unusual to feel deflated on Sunday night knowing that a new work week will start the next morning. However, if your feelings cause panic, insomnia, or strong mood swings, you might have a career problem that needs to be fixed.
    Questions to ask: On a scale of 1 to 10, how anxious do I feel? Are my feelings about a particular event happening at work, or is this how I feel every Sunday night?
  5. You’ve stopped caring…about anything. Apathy drains your spirit. When you no longer feel enthusiasm or concern for anything, it’s time to search for the underlying cause. If there’s no part of your job that you enjoy — and if that feeling has spread from work to your home, social life, and relationships — you need to discover the underlying cause.
    Questions to ask: Is this depression or some other emotion I should see a doctor about? Is my enthusiasm drained because I don’t have meaningful work?

A career change isn’t always the answer, but if you feel any of the things described above, it might be.

Have you been through a career change before? Watch and listen to Jocelyn describe how she felt unchallenged at her job, and how she made a move to change her career direction.

photo credit dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo