How to Decide if it’s Time for a Career Change

It can be troubling to discover that something in the back of your mind is suggesting that you are no longer satisfied with your current job. The fear that it could be a waste of the time and effort it took to reach a position when you go ahead and sacrifice it all for the unknown is sometimes enough to discourage people from making bold career moves. This doesn’t mean that a career change is a bad idea. Sometimes, the best choice for not only your professional life but also your personal life is to rethink your current trajectory and aim for something new. If you are uncertain as to what your future holds and whether or not you should consider a change of career, here are some considerations that will help you make the best decision.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

The sunk cost fallacy is the belief that having spent time, effort, or money on a particular pursuit imbues it with value, even if it is a lost cause that should be abandoned. It is hard to let go of something you have put a lot of work into, such as following a certain career path, only to decide that you would prefer to change your course of action entirely. This can feel like a waste of the resources you put into achieving the initial goal, and, sometimes, this feeling can be enough to keep you from making the decision to change your path. To overcome this hurdle, you need to understand that there is value in paths that you choose to leave behind, no matter how far along you got. What you learned and experienced will be valuable wherever you decide to go next, regardless of whether or not the new path is at all related to the previous one. Instead of looking at your past choices as mistakes, view them as valuable lessons that have served to guide you towards a path you would rather follow.

Trust Your Instincts

There will be a reason you have started to feel like a change of scenery. This might be due to your work environment no longer suiting you or the fact that there is no scope for promotion past the level you have already achieved. Whatever the reason, it can be incredibly useful to listen to your gut and try to examine the details of why you want a change of career. Ask yourself these questions:

  • When you think of your future, does it look very different from the one that your current career path is leading toward? If so, what needs to change in order to bring you to that desired future?
  • Do you feel like your skills are being put to their full use or are they being wasted in this current work environment? Where do you see yourself contributing the most to the world?
  • What steps would you need to take in order to shift career paths and find a more fulfilling role? Would your entire lifestyle need to change too? Are you prepared for the potential consequences of leaving a ladder that you are halfway up to begin at the bottom of a new one?

Consider Your Options

Sometimes, a change in career is a complete shift from one industry to another. You might want to retrain, develop entirely new skills, and gain the right qualifications for your new career path. For example, if you were working in software development but decided that you would like to pursue a career in nursing instead, you could find online accelerated BSN programs to suit your needs and start you off on your new professional journey. Depending on where you are moving from and what you want to move toward, there will be a huge variety of choices ahead. Will you need to become qualified in a new discipline? Do you need to adjust your spending habits to accommodate a change in lifestyle? Are you willing to move for work? Look at your options and figure out the best way to align your new career goals with what you are willing to change.

What Caused This Desire for Change?

Another important question to ask yourself before making the huge decision of changing your career path is why you started to feel like a change in the first place. There are many reasons that moving to a new industry or field is worthwhile, but there are also times when a career move is more risky than practical. Reasons to reconsider staying in your current career include:

  • Finding a better role within your industry. Perhaps the reason you feel stagnant is that it’s time for you to move up the ladder. Talk to your employer about the potential for promotion. Even if the place you work for can’t offer you a better role, you may be able to find what you’re looking for at another company in the same field. This might be enough to satisfy your itch to change careers without throwing away all your hard work to get where you are.
  • Unpleasant coworkers. You can discuss difficult colleagues with the HR department before making the big decision to change career.
  • Changing your work patterns. Maybe the biggest reason for feeling discomfort in your current role is the daily toll it takes on your mental and physical wellbeing. If you enjoy the job apart from the lifestyle it imposes upon you, negotiate with your employer to make a potential adjustment in office hours or the option to work from home.

The Benefits of a Career Change

If you know that you want a different career, it can be helpful to know the various benefits of your decision. These include the excitement of meeting new people, seeing a future for yourself that is more appealing and feeling inspired to contribute your best qualities to the world. Even if it means developing new skills or gaining new qualifications, a change of career can be a great way to refresh your life and help you reach your fullest potential.

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