Career Change: Now…Later…Never?

If you’re one of those fortunate people who knew at age 10 what you wanted your life’s work to be and have never wavered from that, congratulations! You’re almost certainly one of a fairly small minority.

Most of us have progressed through multiple career changes; many have done it a lot. Sometimes it’s a question of personal growth, changes in our outlook on life, the realization that we’re capable of more than we’re doing. Whether or not that fits your situation, you might still be considering or have considered a career change or find a compelling reason to do so later on.

I often work with clients who need or want to make a career change, and it can sometimes pose a major challenge–for them as the individual most closely affected by the situation and for me as the professional who wants to help them achieve the desired result. Consequently, I interact frequently with colleagues on this subject and also read extensively about it to gain useful insights.

Should You Make a Career Change?

As I’ve written in the past, a lot of factors can influence the decision on whether to make a career change. For one thing, you might not always have a choice–for example, if your industry basically goes away, you will be forced to look at alternatives. For another, a career change might require an economic sacrifice that you and your family can’t afford under current circumstances.

I do career coaching and consulting, which includes helping clients identify the factors for or against a career change in their particular situation. I do not provide career counseling, which requires intensive training I don’t have, so if someone who comes to me needs that kind of support, I recommend they contact a qualified career counselor. I work with clients to develop a career action plan that will help them move forward. Part of that plan involves determining the pros and cons of the career change and prioritizing the actions needed to implement the plan.

The key here is to conduct a thoughtful review of your situation, seek expert help and advice that’s relevant to your needs, and make a decision that you (and perhaps your family) can live with as comfortably as possible.

Career Change: If Not Now, When?

In some cases, you might have trouble deciding not only whether you should make a career change but also when would be the right time to do it. An article by Kathy Caprino on Forbes.com, titled “5 Ways to Tell if You Need a Career Change,” offers a few pointers on this topic. Her 5 tips on deciding to change careers are:

  1. You are chronically worn out, exhausted and depleted.
  2. Your skills, responsibilities, and tasks are not you at all.
  3. You’ve come to the point where your salary no longer makes up for the boredom and emptiness you feel.
  4. Despite all the “right” choices you made in your career, the outcome feels very wrong.
  5. You have the irrepressible feeling that your talents and abilities could/should be used in a totally different (more creative and impactful) way.

I could easily add to Caprino’s list. As an example, if your industry is changing and moving in a direction you find unsatisfactory, it might be time for a career change. If geographical or other factors are prompting you to relocate to an area that will make it difficult to continue in your present career, exploring other options could become essential.

Career Change Tip: Look at your situation as unemotionally as you can and put the necessary effort into evaluating what’s both possible and practical for you. Don’t waste time longing for something you can’t or won’t pursue effectively.

2 Comments on “Career Change: Now…Later…Never?

  1. Hi, with the “worldwide” recession still with us – we are sometimes forced in making a career change. The secret to surviving these days is being “flexible” and being willing to learn new skills. I have been able to survive in spite of being 55 and laid off since 2008. What helped me was Nicholas Lore’s book “The Pathfinder” – maybe you could feature him on your site. He also runs the Rockport Institute which has an AWESOME “Career Change” program. Love your article! Thanks, Angela J. Shirley

    • Angela, thanks for your comments, which are so true. It sounds as if you’ve made good progress in a difficult situation. Thanks, too, for the book recommendation. I definitely want to look at that.