It’s Sunday night, and that familiar thud hits you in your stomach, tomorrow is Monday. Dread washes over you with the very thought of dragging yourself to work and going through the motions all over again. You’re bored and unmotivated or perhaps you just feel like you’re ready for the next big challenge.
You know deep down in your gut that something has to change, you’re just not sure what.
If you’ve got as much passion for your current occupation as you do for taking out the bins every Wednesday night, it might be time to change careers.
But how do you know if it’s time to take the leap into doing something completely different, rather than just repositioning in your current industry? Here’s how to start thinking strategically about whether making a career change is the right decision for you, right now.
1) Take a long hard look at yourself
Did you do it? You look great! Have you done something with your hair? Ok, now look a little deeper. If you’re feeling really frustrated, you might have the urge to make a drastic change and quit in a spectacular fashion. But before you go full Jerry Maguire, you need to do a self-evaluation. You might be thinking, “Stare into the abyss, not for me thanks!” but taking the time to understand yourself will allow you to make future decisions with clarity.
There are some great career self-assessment tools online, like this one from the Australian government, but you can start with questions like this.
Who inspires you? What drives you? Ask yourself, if I didn’t have to work for money, what would motivate me to turn up at the office every day? What are your hobbies and why do you love doing them? Do you want to incorporate them into your next career, or would you prefer to leave them for the weekends? Think about the last time you mentally gave yourself a high five, and write down those activities you do at work or in your own time that leave you with that strong feeling of satisfaction and a job well done, so you can seek them out in your next role.
2) Evaluate your current workplace
Now you have a good idea about your priorities and motivations, write down what you like about your current job, and the parts you’d rather leave behind. Remember, there might be personal skills that you enjoy flexing, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy the task. Think about how those skills could be transferrable to another field.
It’s also important to be specific about the stuff you don’t like so much. Is it a problem that’s specific your workplace’s culture or do you suspect it is industry wide? It’s also handy to do this to make sure that you don’t switch careers only to find you’re stuck doing all the things that annoyed you in the first place. For instance, you might not want to start your own business if you really dislike admin and book-keeping. If there’s nothing that could change at your current job to make you happy, start looking further afield.
3) Advancement in your career
Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the best job of them all? Do you look at anyone in your company or field where you think “That’s what I want to be doing in five years!” Would you want to do your boss’s job, or their boss’s job? If so, it’s time to make a plan about how you’re going to get there. But if there’s no position that you aspire to, and there’s nothing that excites you about a future in this field, it’s time to make a change.
4) Take your daydreams seriously
No, not those daydreams where you imagine dunking your boss in a vat of slime, the ones where you look out the window and wistfully imagine a better life. If your happy place is anywhere but here, and you spend your days browsing job ads and thinking about the skills you’d be learning if you only had the time, start listening to what your daydreams are trying to tell you. If you dream about spending more time with your family, your dreams may be telling you to seek a job that allows you to have a flexible work schedule. If you have a behind the scenes job and you daydream about how cool it would be if you could speak directly to the client, you may start looking for a more people-oriented career. Maybe you dream about being a famous rapper. Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to spend some time thinking about how you could make it a reality (rapper school?), and soon you’ll turn your daydreams into clear goals.
5) Do your research
Once you’ve got a list of potential career options, start interrogating each one. Play good cop/bad cop and get real about their pros and cons, whether you’re up for the extra training you’d have to do, and if there are good opportunities for growth. Get really nerdy about it and learn as much as you can in your own time. “ You need to keep up to speed with what’s happening,” says Anthony Whyte, Talent South Australia General Manager. “After all, there’s no use saying you want to do something if there are no jobs out there. So know where there are jobs and future careers and let that guide you.”
Seek out people who are doing what you’d like to do, then take them out for coffee and pick their brains. You’d be amazed at how secretly chuffed most people are to be asked for advice. If your dream career is in tech, you can talk to one of our experts here.
So ask yourself the right questions, do the work, be prepared to take on the ups and downs of a career shift and you’ll find yourself on a Sunday night, eagerly awaiting the working week ahead.
As Steve Jobs said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”