Contrary to what you might have heard, no one is really sure how many careers the average person has in the course of a lifetime – in part, because many career changes are hard to define. If you start out your career as a Registered Nurse, become a Nurse Manager, and then later go on to work in hospital administration, have you had one career, or three?
Regardless of how you define them, careers are fluid, and most of us will have at least a few. The more important thing to know is when it’s time to consider moving on to the next phase of your working life.
These are all good signs that it’s time to start thinking about what comes next:
1. Your industry is dying.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook tracks occupations’ median pay, educational requirements, and growth rate. If you’re trying to figure out if your job will still exist in a few years, it’s a good place to start.
For example, if you’re Statistician or a Wind Turbine Service Technician, good news – both occupations are projected to grow at 30% or faster between 2014 and 2024. On the other hand, if you’re a Broadcast News Analyst or Medical Transcriptionist, it might be time to retrain, as both occupations are expected to decline.
2. You’re chronically burnt out.
When we think of job burnout, we often picture the behavioral evidence that someone is about to reach their breaking point – snapping at coworkers, for example, or becoming critical of the job. But burnout can manifest as physical symptoms as well, appearing as everything from insomnia to getting sick more often.
If you’re feeling not quite right, and your doctor can’t find anything wrong with you, the issue might be career-related. Engage in some self-care now, while you figure out what you want to do next. Your coworkers will thank you, and you’ll be able to embark on your next phase with a clear conscience.
- Related: ‘My Job Is Killing Me’
3. You don’t want your boss’s job.
There’s no rule that says that you have to climb straight up the ladder, but in many professions, if you don’t want your boss’s job someday, there’s really nowhere else for you to go. If you don’t love what your manager does all day, and there’s no other path forward or way to earn more money as your experience grows, you might want to consider whether it’s time to look into another career.
You don’t have to be a manager to be a success. But you do have to plan carefully to achieve a non-management track career that meets your emotional and financial needs.
4. You have the ‘Sunday Night Blues’ …all week long.
No matter how much you love your job, you’re going to have the occasional day where you’d rather be on the beach or the golf course instead of heading into yet another meeting. That’s perfectly normal. What’s not normal is dreading every day like it’s your annual review and you haven’t met your goals.
If you’re always dragging your feet as you head out the door, it might be time for a change. Consider the famous quote by late Apple founder Steve Jobs: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
If the issue is what you do – as opposed to a problem with your boss or your employer – you might want to think about changing careers, and not just looking for a new job.
5. You’re not excited about your work anymore.
Sometimes, it’s not that you hate what you do for a living, but that it just doesn’t excite you. This isn’t to say that work needs to fulfill all our needs; many people earn a living doing one thing and feed their soul doing something else. But if you used to feel passion for your work and now you’re feeling ho-hum, it might be time to consider whether a change in scenery would reignite your excitement.
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