As a Forbes contributor and women’s career coach, I receive scores of emails each month from professional women with questions about every aspect of their careers and lives. Some questions represent a dilemma that thousands are facing, like this one:
I’m 27 and work in a corporate managerial role. I know I don’t like my work (and haven’t liked it for a few years) but it pays very well. I was promoted recently too, but still I agonize daily whether I should change careers or just leave it alone and stick with it. How can you tell if you should change careers or not?
I’ve found that there are 4 ways to determine reliably and effectively if you should change careers, and once you get hip to these signs, you’ll be able to answer for yourself in a heartbeat, “Should I stay or should I go?”
The 4 ways to tell if you should change careers are:
You are chronically worn out, exhausted and depleted.
If you experience chronic illness, debilitation, and exhaustion, the first place to look is your work. Most of us spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you don’t like your work, it won’t like you back. Overly-stressful, misaligned work can break your body down. Your body shares what your lips won’t.
You’ve come to the point where your salary no longer makes up for the boredom and emptiness you feel.
Most people who dislike like their work but are reluctant to change find that it is their fear about walking away from the money that keeps them stuck. I work with women who are used to earning six figures, and they don’t want to part with it. But at some point, many are saying, “Hang on here – I have this money, but I hate how I spend my life making it.” They begin to rethink their priorities, talents, and abilities, and open their eyes to new ways to earn the money they need without risking the farm or giving up their lives for it.
Despite all the “right” choices you made in your career, the outcome feels very wrong.
So many women have made all the “right” choices, done everything that was expected of them, but wake up bored to death or miserable in their work. The reality is that these “right” choices usually have to do with pleasing others, stroking your ego, or taking work or a promotion that fell in your lap, rather than proactively shaping your career by asking yourself the tough questions like “What is my passion?” and “Is this where I belong?”
You have the irrepressible feeling that your talents and abilities should be used in a totally different (more creative and impactful) way.
I used to say to myself every day in my corporate life, “I know I’m made for better things than this.” But I didn’t listen to myself – I thought I was crazy. Now I know differently. If you think, “There’s got to be more to life than this,” then you’re right – there IS.
If you dream of fulfilling, rewarding work, you’re meant to pursue it. But how you pursue it – the action steps you take and the mindset you apply to the process of change – can make all the difference between tremendous success and abject misery.
Will you make 2014 your year for career change?