By Annie Favreau
Changing careers can be an exhilarating moment in your working life—but it can also be seriously stressful. Because of the long-range impact on your work, your life, and your family, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Before you take the plunge, be sure you’re making the right move for the right reasons.
Here are five of the best (plus, one all-time worst!) reasons to make a career change. Do any of these apply to you?
#1: You’re Not Growing
A job where you’ve stopped growing can be disastrous for your professional growth and personal happiness. If you’re constantly bored at work, don’t have any engaging projects coming across your desk, or feel like nothing is challenging you to rise to the occasion, it’s a sign to move on.
Your lack of engagement might be related to the specific company you work for—in which case changing employers (not your whole career path) might make sense. However, if your role itself doesn’t offer opportunities to advance and transform, it could be time to look for a new career area.
#2: Your Life Has Recently Changed In a Major Way
If you’ve recently gotten married, helped an aging parent move in, dealt with an illness, had a child, or experienced any other major change in circumstances, a career change could be on your horizon. That’s because big life shifts can also mean big shifts in personal values and priorities.
If your current role or industry isn’t flexible enough to accommodate your changing focus, it’s a good reason to explore new career options.
#3: You’re Boss/Co-Workers/Work Environment Makes You Want to Cry
Is your stress level at work constantly on red alert? If so, a change could help save both your career and, more importantly, your health.
Working in a chronically stressful environment can damage both your physical and mental health and put you at increased risk for many different problems including heart disease, sleep problems, depression, and obesity.
If the cause of your stress is a fundamental part of your industry—some jobs areas are simply more stressful than others—charting a new career course could help you be a happier, healthier, and, ultimately, more productive employee.
#4: Your Earning Power is Limited by Your Current Career
The only way to escape a so-called “dead-end” job—one in which there’s no chance of progressing into a higher-paying position—is to transition out of it. You might be able to move sideways in your company, but sometimes you’ve got to jump into a totally new career area before you can move up to a better pay-grade.
Be warned—this kind of career change is about long-haul benefits, rather than instant gratification. You may need to invest in more education to make yourself a competitive applicant. Plus, as a newcomer to a field, you may slide down the ladder a few rungs or need to take an initial cut in pay.
But in the long run, pursuing a career area with real opportunities can be worth it.
#5: You’ve Got A Clear Idea of Where You’d Rather Be
Transitioning out of an old career is so much easier if you have a strongly defined goal and know the pathway you’ll take to get there. If you’ve done your research, know what career you want to pursue, and understand the training you need to become competitive, the only thing left to do is jump.
And The All-Time Worst Reason to Change Careers? Because Someone Else Thinks You Should
Don’t pick a career to make other people happy. It’s your life. It’s your time. You deserve to find a new career that matches your values, your interests, and your priorities.
Are you considering a career change? Why?
Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site that helps people figure out what they want to become and find the right education to make it happen. Explore your career options at Inside Jobs.