Five Signs it’s Time for a Career Change

It’s easy to get complacent in the workplace. You’re managing on your salary comfortably, you have established enough cred to take a two-hour lunch now and again, and your employee stock plan is performing well. How do you know if you have found the perfect fit, or you’re stagnating? These are five sure signs it’s time for a change.

You’re not challenged

The first few weeks in a new job are a sensory overload of new information. Even if you’re coming in as an expert in your field, you are learning how things are done in a new company. Once you have settled in, your skills should be put to good use most of the time. If you’re spending the majority of your day surfing the web and watching the clock, you’re either not doing your job or you’re not sufficiently challenged. If you have already talked to your boss about your career path and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s time to take action.

You dread going to work

If you start feeling anxious about the work week ahead on Sunday afternoon, there’s a problem. It’s perfectly normal to not feel like going to work once in a while. Most of us would rather be on vacation spending a beautiful, sunny day at the beach than sitting at our desks. But if you find yourself hitting the snooze button for the fifth or fifteenth time because you’re just not motivated to get up and go to work, it’s time to make a change.

If it’s because you’re not challenged, try talking to your boss. If it’s because you hate your boss, try looking for something in another department. If it’s because you just don’t love what you do anymore, spend some time thinking about what you do love and develop a plan to make it happen. Life is too short to spend 40+ hours a week of it unhappy.

You are grouchy or distracted all the time

Walking in the door to greet your family or arriving at daycare to pick up your kids should be the very best part of your day. If you’re yelling about minor stuff because of a bad day at the office, or ignoring your four-year-old’s recap of drama on the playground because your nose is in your phone with a constant barrage of work email, something has to give. Even a very patient spouse will eventually lose that patience if your workplace keeps invading your home, and don’t kid yourself about a four-year-old’s ability to hold a grudge. Being a little distracted in the midst of a big project is understandable, but if you can never leave work at work, consider your options.

Your career no longer fits your life

Travelling 25% of the time or working odd hours was great when you were just starting out, but if you have a started a family or you’re helping care for an elderly relative you need something with a little more stability. It’s not the job per se, it’s an issue of career fit.

If you truly love what you do, you may be able to find a related position with more regular hours or that keeps you closer to home. If your change in circumstances is a temporary one, i.e., you’re helping to care for an ill family member, try working with your employer to find a temporary solution like dropping to part-time or working from home.

The company is in trouble

Most people facing mass layoffs will admit they should have seen the writing on the wall. Pay attention to the news, especially the financial reports. If the company is constantly “reorganizing” or “retooling” while continuously missing the mark on key performance indicators, there is a chance the opportunity to choose your next move will evaporate. If your work is highly specialized, you could find yourself one of many similarly-skilled people competing for the same job. If you see it coming, get while the getting is good!

While it may be tempting to stay in the same old job because you’re comfortable, going through the motions will eventually hamper your performance. It’s best to pay attention to the signs and channel your energy to find something really great.