Should You Change Careers? Here Are 6 Ways To Decide

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Changing careers is a crossroads many people encounter in their lifetime. Many people negatively make the assumption that wanting a career change somehow makes you into a failure — especially when you’re older. But a study by the American Institute for Economic Research showed that it may actually be a good thing to change careers later in life. Not only did the study find that 82 percent of older workers made a successful transition, but they also tended to earn more and feel happier in their new role.

Regardless of your age, there’s no valid reason to get stuck in a career you hate. Here are a few hints to help you decide if you should steer toward a career change.

Dread is a common theme.

Even movie stars don’t want to show up for work some days. However, some work environments are continuously toxic, leaving workers with a feeling of dread on a daily basis.

First, consider whether there are other things going on in your life that are the true cause of your dread. For example, do you stay up too late and dread waking up for work at 7:00 a.m.? This is more of an outside work issue — something you shouldn’t be blaming on your career (e.g. you don’t get enough sleep, idiot). However, if you find that, upon entering your office building, the people, tasks, and general atmosphere make you hopelessly miserable, that’s your cue — it’s time to be out.

… But you worked so hard for it.

Oftentimes, there is one weak, fear-based excuse that holds people back from a career change – you worked so hard to get to your current position. Your current career path might have entailed extensive schooling and a degree, or maybe you just worked your way up in a company. Regardless of your past efforts, this is not a good enough reason to stay in a position you don’t like in the present moment.

Maybe you figured out that the job doesn’t really suit you, or maybe you used to enjoy the job, but you’ve grown tired of it. This isn’t a sign of failure. Rather, it’s a sign that you’ve grown and learned more about yourself and your strengths/weaknesses.

Your performance is poor.

If you’ve been in your current position for a considerable amount of time, you have probably gotten the hang of it by now. However, that doesn’t mean you will excel at the job. If you know your job like the back of your hand, but find that you are making more and more thoughtless mistakes, this is yet another sign of dissatisfaction. Another way of putting it is that you find it difficult to take pride in your work — it doesn’t matter to you and have a hard time caring about anything it entails. Now any kind of work can be done with pride — whether it’s working on a construction site, in an office, or anywhere else. But if you really despise your job, it becomes more difficult to perform well — even when the tasks are well beneath your skill level.

You don’t have any better ideas.

A far-too-popular trend: Many people stay stuck in careers they hate for years simply because they are indecisive. Years can quickly turn into decades, and before you know it, you’ve missed dozens of opportunities due to indolence. It’s important to remember that the whole transition doesn’t need to be planned out. All you need to do is take step one. For example, make a list of jobs you are qualified for, or jobs that would pay better. Another option is to look into certifications that might interest you and narrow them down to a few. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your ideal career won’t be either.

Your career won’t be action-packed all the time, but there should be times when you enjoy, or even get excitement out of work. Excitement is the number one sign you’re on the right track with your career.

The movie “Office Space” resonates with you.

Sure, most people like the movie Office Space. But if you like it because you strongly relate to it and feel like Peter Gibbons is your spirit animal — that’s not normal. The guy suppressed his anger and was miserable and unassertive in his life. This isn’t supposed to be the “daily grind” — it’s supposed to be a wake-up call. You can spend your life next to the weird guy who loves staplers too much, or you can honestly ask yourself, “What do I want to be doing with my life?”

You daydream constantly.

Another key sign that you’re dissatisfied at work is daydreaming. Everyone daydreams from time to time, but when you can’t stay focused at work, your job may not be stimulating enough. If you find yourself frequently longing for better opportunities and considering all the possibilities you could be experiencing instead, there’s just something missing in your current career. Put simply, daydreaming is an indicator that you would rather be elsewhere — to such an extent that you distract yourself from a mundane job with mental meanderings. The next decision to make is whether you can somehow mold your career to be more satisfying, or whether it’s time to skip out.