Deciding whether or not you enjoy your job is fairly straightforward. That said, deciding whether or not you enjoy your career is a much more challenging consideration.
You may feel unfulfilled, unhappy, or underappreciated at work, but how do you know if these feelings are related to your workplace or your actual career?
Firstly, you should do your best to determine whether or not your workplace displays signs of a toxic work environment. If you determine that your workplace is indeed toxic, you may want to focus on changing jobs, rather than changing careers.
Likewise, if you are struggling to know how to stay motivated at work, the answer may be more straightforward than a career change. You may find increased fulfillment and a greater work-life balance through a different routine and the formation of healthy habits.
That said, if you find yourself wondering: should I change careers? or how do I change career paths?, it’s probably time to start actively reflecting on your past career choices, current career path, and future possibilities for finding a new career.
How to know if you should change careers
Sometimes people know they would prefer to have a different career but are nervous to make the change. For people wondering can I change careers at 40? the answer is of course you can!
It’s never too late to consider changing careers. Most of us don’t know what we really want to do when we are in our 20s. What’s more, our needs and preferences change as we get older. What we value in our 20s isn’t necessarily what we value in our 30s or 40s.
So for those of you wondering, should I change careers at 40? and how do I change careers at 40? refer to our guide for changing careers at 40.
More generally, for workers wondering should I change my career? how do I change careers? or even can I change my career? consider these 8 signs that you picked the wrong career.
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Your physical and/or mental health is declining.
Stress takes a physical toll on the body. This is common, unfortunately, with workers with low job satisfaction. If your physical and/or mental health is declining, you are likely suffering from a poor work-life balance.
Common signs of stress include headaches, stomach aches, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, make sure to seek medical advice and/or seek counseling.
It is also possible that you are physically ill-suited for your career. For example, if your job includes a lot of physical labor and you find that your body can’t comfortably keep up, it may be time to consider changing careers.
You call out of work often (or at least think about it).
When you are dissatisfied with your job, there is an increased temptation to call out of work often. Yes, taking physical and mental health days is important, but if you find yourself trying to find any reason to call out of work, this is a sign of a greater problem. Ideally, your career should feel purposeful and fulfilling. If this isn’t the case, you may feel aimless, burnt-out, or unmotivated.
You do not feel physically or emotionally safe at your job.
Physical and emotional safety are key factors in having a fulfilling career. Some jobs and careers involve quite a few risk factors. For instance, carpenters often have to work on ladders and staging high off the ground. Similarly, loggers and foresters spend a lot of time working with chainsaws and are often feeling trees.
Maybe at the beginning of your career, these factors felt manageable. If, however, this is no longer the case, and you are beginning to feel physically and/or emotionally unsafe at your job, it may very well be time to start researching alternative career paths. Remember, you deserve to have a career where you feel safe.
You do not connect well with your colleagues.
It’s common for people who struggle to connect with their colleagues to wonder did I pick the wrong career? It’s possible that you simply do not like your work environment and your specific coworkers. If, however, you find that more, generally speaking, you struggle to connect with other people in your profession, this may be a sign that you have chosen the wrong career.
You feel unfilled and undervalued.
It’s important to feel proud of the work that you do and to have a larger feeling of purpose. If your career, or the company that you work for, is not reflective of your larger values, this will feel difficult to accomplish. Similarly, it’s easy to feel undervalued or underappreciated if your career doesn’t fully utilize your skill set.
You feel unmotivated and have no desire to improve your job performance.
Sometimes, workers who’ve chosen the wrong career path will find it difficult to succeed in their careers. If you are not meeting your company’s standards and have no desire to improve your job performance, you likely are not in the right career. Careers are often challenging (and this is a good thing!) but if you are struggling to keep up and can’t find the motivation to improve, it’s probably time to move on and try something else.
Your job isn’t fulfilling your financial needs.
Financial stability is a huge factor in regards to whether or not you feel personally and professionally fulfilled. If your job isn’t meeting your financial needs, you may be asking yourself: How can I change careers? Thankfully, there are several steps you can take, including attending networking events, identifying transferable job skills, setting up informational interviews, and reworking your resume.
You find yourself daydreaming about having different careers.
If you find yourself constantly daydreaming about having a different career, this is a clear sign that you are no longer feeling fulfilled in your current career. Sure, sometimes it can feel satisfying to indulge in the occasional daydream and wonder what it might be like to be a famous actor or an astronaut. If, however, these daydreams occur regularly, your subconscious is trying to nudge you in the right direction.
Key takeaways and moving forward
There are lots of signs to help you determine when you should change careers. Generally speaking though, if you consistently feel stressed and overwhelmed at work, do not connect well with your colleagues, and feel unmotivated to improve your job performance, it’s probably time to start thinking about finding a new career.
Perhaps after reviewing these 8 signs that you picked the wrong career, you have determined that it is indeed your job and not your career that needs changing. If this is the case, your path forward may be a bit simpler. Perhaps you just need to learn how to ask for a raise. Regardless of what your specific job circumstances may be, here at Prepory, we have the resources to help you reach your goals. If you feel like you could benefit from professional guidance, reach out to learn more about our services.