Ever feel like there has to be more?
That there has to be a way of changing careers to one that would better suit your skills, passions, talents, and lifestyle than the one you’re spending your days at now?
Maybe you have—but if you’re like many, you also may be feeling held back and wondering if changing careers is even an option. After all, abandoning a professional life you’ve worked hard to build for something totally unknown can be really, really scary.
But, I’m here to tell you that it can be done—in fact, the average person changing careers at least once in his or her lifetime is not uncommon. So, if you’re not totally satisfied on your current path, you shouldn’t feel guilty about exploring other options. In fact, here are five scenarios in which it actually makes sense to consider trading in your current profession for something new.
1. You Fell into Your Current Career
For some of us, our career “choice” wasn’t really a choice at all. Perhaps a family member helped you get a job because you just needed to pay the bills. Or maybe you landed your job because of a particular skill you have, but you can’t see yourself doing it for the next 20 years.
If your career is the result of a series of random twists and turns rather than something you consciously pursued, it’s worth thinking about whether it’s really suited to you—or if there might be something better out there. Consider taking a career test to assess your personality and interests and identify careers you’d enjoy. Also, figure out what transferrable skills you already have and determine those you need to acquire. What excites you and brings you joy? Can you see yourself turning it into a meaningful career?
2. A Life Change Has Sparked a New Interest
Major life-changing events can change our perspective and cause us to re-evaluate our choices. But you don’t have to wait for the birth of a child or a marriage proposal to shake things up—lots of everyday experiences can lead to life-altering shifts in our priorities, too. For example, the puppy your roommate adopted might inspire you to work at an animal shelter. You might make a friend in a different department in your company and realize you want to learn more about what she does. A vacation overseas could get you thinking about changing careers to one that lets you live abroad.
Pay attention to the encounters or changes in your life that trigger an interest in pursuing something new. They might just be signs that you should try out a new path.
3. The Job Outlook in Your Field Has Worsened
It happens a lot these days: Prospects in your field once seemed plentiful, but changes in technology or the economy have limited your opportunities. If this is the case, it’s not only an option to think about changing careers to an occupation with a better forecast—it’s probably a good idea.
Consider a profession that fits your personality and skills, but also research the labor market to see if you’ll be able to build a new career in your chosen field over time. (For example, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to nearly double by 2030—so nurses, physician’s assistants, and other healthcare professionals and administrators will be seriously in demand for the foreseeable future.)
Find out which industries employ people in the jobs that interest you, what training you need to become qualified, and whether there will be opportunities in this field after you’ve completed that training.
4. You’ve Developed an Interest in an Evolving Field
On the flip side, environmental concerns and changes in technology have created jobs and professions in industries that didn’t exist a few years ago—think environmental consulting, alternative power, social media management, and app development.
Do you see yourself as a pioneer in one of these new and evolving industries? If so, don’t be afraid to think about changing careers. While many of these fields require new skills, you can often combine your existing experience with some updated training to succeed in new fields. For example, if you’re skilled in project management, getting some technical know-how would make you a great candidate for product management roles at tech startups.
5. Your Current Career Isn’t Aligned With Your Core Values
Core values are the important beliefs and conventions that guide the way you live your life. Values such as altruism, intellectual stimulation, leadership, and creativity affect how you make decisions and how you interact with others, both at work and at home. They’re also a significant factor in job and career satisfaction—it can be difficult to be happy at work when you’re not living out the principles that are important to your life.
Take some time to understand what your own values are and whether your current career path is letting you live them. For example, is your sales job giving you the creative fulfillment you imagined for your life? Will your client services gig offer the leadership potential you crave? In the long run, a career path that’s closely aligned with your values is the key to professional fulfillment, so if you’re not sure about the path you’re heading down, it’s worth considering changing careers.
Shifting gears in your career—especially if you’ve been working in the same field for a long time—isn’t easy, and it’s never immediate. But do know that, these days, career paths are rarely linear. And no matter what your reason for looking, the right career is out there for you. Research your options, evaluate your strengths, learn new skills, and fortify your resolve to make change, and you’ll find the path that’s right for you.