So, you feel like you hate your job to the point that even thinking about going to work gives you anxiety. Yet, at the same time, the idea of career change makes you stop in your tracks. “Am I ready? Where do I even begin? I don’t want to go back to school! I don’t know what I’m passionate about.” If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind lately, you are not alone.
Now, let’s talk about these important questions. When you are really unhappy about your current job, do you have to change your career? The short answer is no, which I am sure feels like a relief to you. If you are feeling particularly inspired about doing something different from your current line of work, by all means, go for it. But you don’t have to change careers just because you are fed up with your current one. As someone who has changed careers twice in life, I am telling you, career change is not always the answer.
When career change is not the answer…
If you are looking to change career in order to get away from something, more often than not your problem will follow you to your next career. Especially if what you’re trying to get away from is dealing with other people. This typically is the number one reason why people get fed up with their jobs. They get sick of their boss or one or more annoying co-workers they have to deal with on a daily basis.
First of all, there are very few careers out there where you don’t have to deal with people. And whenever you have to deal with people, rest assured, a few of them will annoy you. Second, even if you find a career where your interactions with others are minimal, this won’t solve your relationship problems. Besides, you will be very lonely. My point is, certain challenges are worth dealing with. Getting away from them will create even more challenges.
What if it’s not about the people…
Many times, your relationships at work may not be the reason but a catalyst for a career change. You already know you want to do something else and you already know what you want to do. You are bored at work, living one day at a time, Monday to Friday, wishing you were somewhere else. Then your annoying boss comes in and tells you what to do. Or worse, your annoying boss criticizes you for something you did wrong last week. Wouldn’t that amplify your desire to get away and do something else? Of course, it would. But even then, it is important to deal with the problem at hand and learn something from it before you move on.
I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me recently for a career change because something happened at their last job that seriously traumatized them. One person was so upset about what happened that she decided she doesn’t want to work in the same industry anymore. Now, she may have questioned her career choice in the first place. However, unpleasant conversations, criticism and trust violations can happen anywhere. Even in careers, you love. How do you deal with demanding bosses or customers when you love your job? Do you let what happened to you affect your passion for what you do? Or do you deal with it?
How do you know when it’s time to change careers?
The best time to leave your career behind and go for something else is when you feel complete about your current career. You are not trying to get away from anything, but you know you have learned and gotten everything you could out of it. Then you know it is time to open up a new chapter in your life.
If you are really miserable, to the point where your job is affecting your health or well-being, then perhaps it is best to leave and look for another job that doesn’t cause you anxiety. Your new job can serve you as the transition you need. You can focus on what you want and build plans to pursue your dreams in a much less stressful environment.
Katherine Bouglai is a career transition coach and the founder of Blossom Career. She works with professionals in technology who want to discover their passion in life and build careers of their dreams. Her specialties include career change, resume development, job search strategies, job interview preparations, offer negotiations and other related skills.