If you find yourself unhappy with your choice of career is it best to stick it out or try something new?
Attitudes to this question have changed over the years. In the past, people would never have contemplated turning away from a stable job, even if it made them unhappy. However, these days following your passion has become much more fashionable. In fact, The Wall Street Journal has reported that most of us will have upwards of 7 career changes during our working lives. It is debatable whether this figure is actually accurate, but the attitude that career change is possible and desirable is definitely in vogue.
That said, there are still lots of factors to take into account when considering a career change. One of the most important factors is:
Timing your career change
When is the best time to make a change? The simple answer is when your existing job is no longer fulfilling, or you are faced with a situation that forces you to rethink your life choices. For example, perhaps you have been made redundant and are unable to secure another position in your field of work. Then may be a good time to try something different.
You never want to die wondering “what if?”. Even if things don’t work out as hoped, changing your career to follow a passion will at least give you the satisfaction of knowing that you gave it a shot. Often that can be enough to settle you down and eliminate ongoing discontent with your current career.
I knew of a young engineer who decided to throw in his job to follow his love of music. As many before him can testify, the life of a musician is not an easy one, so his career change became doomed. He finally returned to engineering and became more successful than he ever was. He had tasted life in his area of passion and decided it wasn’t for him.
Of course, such a career change can sometimes be a very positive experience. A former client of mine chucked in a great job as an accountant to become an artist and painter. He is on a lower income now, but the deficit is more than made up by the enjoyment he derives from his job.
It’s really up to you to weigh up your own circumstances before deciding on whether it’s time to change careers. It obviously depends on how unbearable you find your current job. It depends on your financial situation and on whether others rely on your support. And finally it may depend on your age and where you are in your career. Being younger can make change easier, but that does not rule it out totally for older folk. As George Eliot said, “it’s never too late to be who you might have been”.
The best advice I can give you is to follow your gut!
Part 2 of this blog addresses other factors that need to be considered before changing careers.