By Holly Barry
We are set to spend an average of 99,117 hours at work, which equates to around 11.5 years of our lives. That’s a considerable proportion of our time. In that light, we should be striving to ensure that we’re happy in the jobs we’re doing. Of course, we all know how easy it is to fall into a career path that isn’t exactly ideal, as financial ties, family responsibilities, or other obligations pressure us into accepting jobs that might not be a great fit.
Whilst switching jobs may seem like a massive upheaval, it is essential to find happiness at work in order to achieve a sense of fulfillment and maintain good mental health. If you’re consistently stressed, are stagnating in your position, or you no longer believe in the company that you work for, it might be time to start considering a career change. Below we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you through the next phase in your professional life.
Is there ever a right time to change jobs?
In short, the answer is yes. There are a number of signs that indicate it’s time to consider changing careers. If you feel undervalued, find that you do not gel well with your team or find it difficult to air grievances, it is time to consider a new position. You should also consider changing your career if you find your job lacks challenge and is so monotonous that you dread going to work. Equally, if you feel overburdened and constantly stressed and overwhelmed, that’s another reason for change.
Before making such a big decision, consider what it is about your career that is making you unhappy. If you are reluctant to leave your company but find that you are facing some of the above issues, consider talking to your manager. As a valuable asset to the company, your manager will undoubtedly want to help you meet your professional needs, by moving your career on to the next step or relieving some workload pressures.
Industries to explore
With all of the career options out there it is difficult to decide what it is you want to do and how to get there. First and foremost, don’t panic. This is not your one and only opportunity to change careers, if you decide that your new job isn’t for you, it is perfectly acceptable to change again. Don’t buy into the myth of a ‘true calling’ as often finding the right job is a matter of trial and error.
Whilst the impulse to switch career immediately may be strong, it is often better to change your career over a period of time. Once you have settled on a career goal, begin researching what experience and qualifications you need to do the job. Consider brushing up on your education by taking night courses, attending the open university, or completing further education part time. Of course one of the problems of changing a career is finance. If you have a partner, consider whether they could support the family on their income whilst you retrain.
In terms of practical experience, you should contact somebody in your desired role to ask them questions and potentially shadow them for a day. In addition, begin building a network of contacts who work in your desired industry, either through LinkedIn or by attending networking events. Lastly, update your CV, cutting any superfluous experience. Keep it succinct, to the point, and no longer than two pages.
Reaping the rewards
Although a career change can initially mean that you are financially worse off, in the long run the benefits to your personal well-being and workplace satisfaction outweigh the short-term financial discomfort. Reading personal stories about those who changed their career mid-life can be useful and reassuring.
It is also worth bearing in mind that many of the skills you have picked up in your current career are transferable. This means that although you may have to do some retraining, you might not be as far behind as you initially thought. If you do have to do a little retraining, plan ahead financially, ensuring that you have enough savings to support yourself and your family through this period. To ensure that you see positive results from your career change, set yourself deadlines and realistic goals. Don’t apply half-heartedly for jobs that you are vaguely interested in, because the likelihood is that you will be rejected and this can be discouraging in the long run.
Whilst you may be considering changing career for your personal wellbeing and happiness, changing jobs is also great for your professional life. It ensures that you remain flexible, in touch with the outside business world, and up-to-date in terms of your skills and knowledge. So begin your search for a new challenge and take the plunge, you may find a little risk will reap much reward.