Are You REALLY Ready For a Career Change?

By Cathy Goodwin

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Are you REALLY ready for a career change?I’ve just been reading a good book: The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

I usually don’t like books about happiness because the measurement strikes me as odd: self-ratings of happiness don’t seem very robust. But this book was different.

Like many other psychologists, Lyubomirsky points out that it’s human nature to adapt. We think we’re going to love our new job and we do … but then it becomes routine. We think we’ll hate our new job … but then we get acclimated. Often that’s good. We tend to tolerate adverse circumstances and bad jobs so we can survive.

On the downside, it’s easy to get accustomed to a job that’s destroying your happiness, health and maybe your life. Here are 5 warning signs you might be ready for a change. Sometimes you need to change your whole career.

Sometimes you just need a new job. It’s often hard to draw the line because a new job, even with the same title, can feel completely different in a new company. And a new career can feel surprisingly similar to the one you left behind.

5 warning signs you might be ready for a change

Sign #1: You make “dumb” mistakes.

You’re not dumb. You’re just forcing yourself to pay attention.

You accidentally throw out important documents. You lost important files. You come to meetings late or forget them altogether. You might need a whole new career when these mistakes occur during your job search.

People who are ready for a career change will give bizarre answers to questions or make self-destructive moves, such as sending a letter in the wrong envelope.

Sign #2:  You start experiencing medical problems or symptoms.

You get colds more often. You take more sick days. Maybe you even have small accidents. You might be eating or drinking alcohol more than you did before.

Stressed out people get sick. Sometimes you get better. Sometimes your body demands that you pay attention, and then you’re looking at medical bills, doctor visits or even hospitalization.

Sign #3: You’re forcing yourself to do things you’re completely unsuited for.

You’re working with numbers when you’re a verbal person (or vice versa). You’re a left-brained analytical person in a culture of New Age right-brained creatives.  You’re working alone when you’re an outgoing, totally ebullient people person. Or you’re an introvert who feels ill if you’re with people too much and now you’re surrounded.

How did you get here? Did your job change? Were you surprised by components of your career as you grew? Did you get promoted into a new position?

If you’re pushing beyond your comfort zone to prepare for your next goal, you might be frustrated and stressed. But you’ll be sustained by your motivation to get to the next step.

Sign #4:  You re-evaluate your earning power.

“Yeah, I’m earning a fortune. But it’s killing me.” Enough said. 

Sign #5: You realize you’re living someone else’s dream.

You majored in a practical subject. Yet you never asked, “What do I want?”

Recently I met an artist at my ceramics studio. (I’ll be posting about her soon.) She’s from Singapore. She was on track to get a PhD in geography because her family demanded a scientific education.

One day she got a gift certificate to take a pottery class. After the first session, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She finnished her PhD, then tossed her books and notes and embarked on a career as a full-time potter. She’s doing well, with grants and artist-in-residence gigs that are very competitive.

“My mother still cries,” this artist told us at a studio talk. “She can’t believe I’m not an engineer.”

Do these signs point your way? Take action now!


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