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How to Know If It’s Time for a Career Change

We all evolve and reach new phases in our professional life where changing our career makes perfect sense, but sometimes it’s not so easy to do.

We may be afraid of the uncertainty or don’t have an alternative opportunity lined-up. We may be worried what other people will think or whether we can handle the stress of making change.

Plus, many of us have been instilled with the mind-set that success means climbing the corporate ladder until we obtain the illustrious gold watch.

So, it makes sense that career change seems impractical.

But what if there was another way? Instead of looking at your professional life as a constant linear progression, consider what Adam Smiley Poswolsky, the author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, suggests.

“We need to embrace instability and experimentation, and help the workforce of the future achieve what it actually wants: a way to make meaning, not just money. Unlike the career ladder mindset, which forces you to move in only one direction (up), let’s implement the lily-pad mindset, in which workers visualizes their career as a series of interconnecting leaps between different opportunities. It may be time to hop to the next Lilly pad as you get closer to work that really matters to you.”

Data supports that job-hopping, at least amongst millennials, is becoming more common. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you want to change career direction.

In fact, we can be grateful to have a social and economic infrastructure where we’re able to pursue work that really matters to us.

However, before you righteously take a stand and quit your job on the spot, it’s important to have a plan and be clear that it’s what you want.

I recommend asking these three questions from career change & personal branding strategist Joseph Liu.

  1. How is staying in my job serving me?
  2. What is staying in my job costing me?
  3. Is the trade-off worth it?

If you’re still not clear about whether or not to begin your career change journey, here are 8 signs that signal it’s time to explore other options.

1. You’ve stopped growing

Are you evolving and becoming better from the work you do?  If the answer is no, you’re probably not feeling challenged and not moving toward your true potential.

If you don’t have a chance to learn and grow you won’t be fulfilled. If you’ve reached a point where you’re doing the same thing day after day and aren’t evolving it’s time to explore other options.

In the meantime, consider how you can start using your strengths in your current role, and explore opportunities to enhance performance and get better at what you do.

2. You dream of other careers while at work

Do you find yourself reading about the lives and careers of people you admire to distract yourself from your own job? Do you often have a browser open on a jobs listings website? If you’re mentally occupied by other career paths and interests this is a clear sign it’s time to consider other options.

Whether you’re actively looking for a new job or just day dreaming of the world changing work you’ll do someday, it’s time to muster the courage to explore and research next steps. Listen to your instincts and intuition about what direction to take.

3. You’re apathetic and indifferent

Do you care about the work you do? Is it something that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment? Or, are you just getting by and going through the motions so you don’t get canned?

Apathy can grow when we aren’t emotionally connected to our work and don’t feel like our opinion counts. It’s that feeling of being stuck and no longer engaged in our work.

If you’re coasting along, no longer looking for opportunities for promotion or advancement, it’s time to go. You deserve to do work that makes an impact and that you care about.

4. Unsatisfying home or personal life

When work related stress and discontent starts to disrupt the harmony in our personal life we may want to consider whether it’s worth it. You might notice you’re unable to be present with your family and friends because of work distractions or expectation to work long hours.

When you relationships or health are deteriorating because of work it’s time to consider other options, or to at least to create more balance in your life.

5. You don’t feel like you belong

We all have different values and beliefs. We also grow and change through time so can start to feel less interested in certain work. Maybe you no longer connect with the mission of your company, or maybe there were changes in strategic or operational direction that you completely disagree with.

When you don’t feel like you belong it’s going to difficult to appreciate your job and to really grow and develop in a healthy manner.

6. You’re only there for the money

Do you buy yourself nice things to make up for the pain of having a job you hate? Are you envious of friends with less well paid jobs but who have job-satisfaction? One of main reasons people stay in a job that is unhealthy or dissatisfying is because of the salary or financial stability.

It’s scary to consider a lifestyle change that comes with a new career, and it makes sense to be prudent about your financial circumstances, but if your salary continues to climb and it still isn’t worth it, it’s time to explore a way out. It’s very possible to find meaningful work that still meets your lifestyle means.

7. You hate talking about your job

Do you dread when people ask what you do? If you hate telling people about your job at parties and wish you could say something different, it’s probably a sign that your career isn’t right for you.

It’s important to compartmentalize our professional and social life but when the mere thought of our job causes us stress if may be worth thinking about why we do it. Our work can, and in my opinion should be, a source of pride and well-being.

8. You experience the “Sunday Scaries”

Do you get that dismal feeling in the pit of your stomach because you have to go back to a job you hate?

Call it the “Dreaded Monday’s” or the “Sunday Blues.”  The colloquialism you use doesn’t matter because they all refer to the same thing. If the thought of having to start a work week leads to anxiety and keeps you awake at night, do yourself a favor and consider a new career.

How many of these apply to you?

Photo credit: new 1lluminati

How to Know If It’s Time for a Career Change

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2017). How to Know If It’s Time for a Career Change. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Feb 2017
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.