Career Change: How Will I Know When It’s Time?

Written by Steven Marwick
Author

What you decide to pursue as a career can massively affect almost every other aspect of your life. If you are unhappy with the direction it is going in, it is entirely possible to pursue a career change. This is something that is often seen when people are in their 30s and 40s and is sometimes dismissed by others as a mid-life crisis. This period in life is commonly where many people take stock of where they are and how this compares to where they thought and hoped they would be when they were younger. 

It is often jokingly called a mid-life crisis, but it is more like a re-assessment or a course correction to ensure that the career is heading in the direction they wanted and envisaged. It is not just around this age band that people begin to look at their lives and the options for change that are open to them, though this is undoubtedly a common starting point for making changes.   

In reality, though, many people will decide to change careers at some point in their life, and many factors can contribute to this decision. We have taken a look at some of the reasons people decide to change their careers. 

Reasons for a Career Change

Toxic Working Environment

One of the biggest reasons for people looking to change jobs or careers is their ongoing unhappiness at their current job. This can take many forms, from struggling with depression at work to not having any work friends

In some work environments, there is even a culture of bullying, ageism, homophobia or sexism. If this has been your own experience, it is reasonable to look elsewhere, outside the company and even the job role. 

Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities

In some workplaces, it can feel like you have hit a brick wall regarding career advancement. If you have repeatedly requested a pay rise and a chance to move up the ladder and have been denied every time, this can sap the amount of energy you are prepared to give to the company. It can be demoralising and hard to hear that your line managers do not consider you ready for promotion, especially if you have been working extra hard toward that goal. 

This is one of the major problems that cause people to fall out of love with the place where they work. Ignoring people’s potential and pigeonholing them in a particular role forever isn’t a good way of encouraging loyalty and inspiring confidence. It is crucial that employees are not allowed to stagnate and must be encouraged in their goals within the company to become as good as they can and learn many transferable skills.

Your Heart Isn’t in the Job Anymore

People change and develop throughout their lives, picking up and discarding hobbies and interests on the way. Their tastes change, and some things that used to interest them greatly and hold a place of passion in their lives no longer hold the same sway that they once did. This is normal and just one more facet of the human condition. 

So it is with work. Some people enter a profession that once greatly captivated them and held their interest, only to discover later in life that the same passion just isn’t there anymore. This sense of disconnection can come from learning an incredible amount more about a subject and becoming familiar with it to the point of contempt. It can also be because the subject is much broader in scope than you could ever hope to master in your lifetime, and the sheer enormity of it becomes off-putting and disheartening.

If your heart is no longer in what you are doing, you will sometimes not be able to put the same amount of effort into it and almost feel like “quiet quitting”. That is, just doing the bare minimum that you have to to get by and get paid at the end of the month, whereas once you would have always gone the extra mile to succeed at the company. 

When it comes to this point, it is time to re-examine what you are passionate about in life and look at how you can pursue this in a way that can pay your household bills.

Unreasonable Employers Causing Burnout

Many people have been in jobs where the expectations of employers are entirely unreasonable, and the employees are each expected to shoulder the work that should be getting done by multiple people. It is becoming more common for there to be circumstances like this due to the UK Skills Gap, which has seen many job roles going unfilled and ramping up the pressure on the remaining employees to take up the slack. 

This leads to unhealthy workloads and depression at work as employees are essentially being asked to undertake an impossible task. It is possible to do this for a short amount of time and to be stretched in terms of capacity, but in the longer term, these conditions lead to people burning out and walking away. It is not sustainable to heap that amount of work and pressure on a single person. This is something that management will have to look at closely, or they will haemorrhage employees to competitors or even outside the sector.

Advice for Managing Career Change

Our sister website Refreshing a Career, is a valuable resource for people looking for more information on how to successfully embrace a career change. They provide advice and support based on many different circumstances and have detailed guidance on settling into a different way of working, such as remote or hybrid work.  

Being able to retrain and refresh your skills will ensure that you are well-placed to make the changes that you need to see in your working life. It is vital to embrace the opportunities for change when your current career isn’t all that you had hoped it would be. It is a significant and bold move but one that promises to be both worthwhile and rewarding.

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