If you feel stuck in a career rut are disengaged at work or simply can’t stand your job any longer, then you’re definitely not alone. According to a 2017 Gallup poll only 15% of employees are engaged at work, which is a tiny 2% increase to the 13% which were engaged according to the results of a similar survey in 2013.
And things only get worse as we get older as apparently the majority of people start hating their jobs at the age of 35. So the prospect of career happiness looks bleak.
On a positive note, if you ever felt like you were alone in how you felt about your job, then you now know you’re comfortably in the majority of 85% of people who clearly dread Monday mornings.
The question is, what are you supposed to do about it?
There are a number of factors which can lead to lack of job satisfaction, and what can be worse, is the feeling that not only are you in the wrong job, but you’re in the completely wrong career altogether.
While a lack of job satisfaction may be resolved by changing company, getting a promotion, taking on new responsibilities, if you’re in a career that you don’t find fulfilling in any way, and one that you have no passion for, then these changes will only lead to a temporary shift in how you feel at best, and before long, you’ll be feeling frustrated and unhappy again.
So, why do so many of us stay in careers we don’t think are right for us? Especially since the effects on us can be so detrimental?
The simple answer is fear.
A career change isn’t something that will necessarily happen overnight, depending what your new career direction requires, it can take months or even years! And this can all seem far too daunting. Daunting enough to stay put, doing work we can’t stand.
So, if you’ve been unhappy in your career for a while and you can’t bring yourself to make a move, then it’s likely there’s one or more things you’re seriously afraid of.
Here are some of the biggest fears that you might have when it comes to making a career change.
You will have to take a step back in your career and/or take a pay cut
This is a very reasonable concern. After all, if you’ve worked hard to get where you are today, why on earth would you want to take a step backwards. In any way, shape or form!
If this is the main thing holding you back from trying to change careers, firstly you need to be crystal clear on why you want to make a career change in the first place and really get to grips with what’s behind your decision, and what the benefits will be in a change.
Ultimately, if the fear of taking a pay cut, starting over or taking a step back far outweighs the pain of staying put, then you may be best off staying where you are, at least for now.
However, the time may come when taking a pay cut to do something you enjoy might not seem like the worse option.
But what can you do if you have these fears and you still definitely want to make a career change?
Do your research
Even though you may need to take a step back or take a pay cut, these might not be the only options. The truth is, until you do some solid research into the area you want to move into you won’t know for sure and you don’t want to spend time stressing if this is something that won’t happen.
Remember you may be able to make a career change through a series of lateral moves which might be more palatable and less daunting from a salary and career level perspective. You also might not know the value your skills and experiences will have within this new career path without first researching and speaking to the necessary people.
Build a runway
As well as doing your research, one of the best things you can do to alleviate the worry of money when it comes to a career change is to build yourself a runway.
Set a date for the career change and start saving in readiness, so that when you do eventually make the change, you have a buffer to cover the most important expenses so you know they won’t be impacted by any changes to your earnings.
Simplify your life
In his book Secret’s of The Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker explains the concept of simplification as a way to build wealth. Put simply, rather than spending more and more as your earnings increase, try spending less! That way, you’ll have more left to go in the bank and thus build your wealth.
Now, I love a nice restaurant and I adore shoes, but if you really want to make that career change sooner rather than later, you might want to embrace this concept and start cooking in more and only buying the things you really need. Painful, I know. But by simplifying your life in this way now, you’ll be able to save more, quicker, and you’ll build the kinds of habits that will help you once you transition into that new career with more ease.
After all, if it’s good enough for millionaires, it must be worth a try.
Plan & budget
Finally, in addition to simplification, it’s worth putting together a budget based on what your likely new earnings will be. Often a lack of clarity and lack of a plan causes us more fear.
2. You might still be unhappy even once you’ve had a career change
It’s fair to say that if you were to just jump head first into any old career, without going through any research, planning, self-reflection and personal work, that you could (and likely would) be unhappy again because it’s easy to walk into the same things you don’t like simply because you won’t know you dislike them, unless you take the time to find out.
Not to mention shiny object syndrome. How many careers out there look exciting and sexy on the outside, but to the people who are in them there are many things they can’t stand.
Remember, your current nightmare career might just be someone else’s dream career, it’s just a matter of preference.
By getting to grips with who you are, what your preferred working styles and preferences are, what your values and beliefs are, what your future goals and ambitions in life are, you can be sure that any career move is the right one.
You can do all of this by working with a coach who will help you to uncover the things benefit the surface of our career unhappiness.
You can also use personality tests and assessments to build a better picture of what works for you.
A holistic approach to a career change will help you make a much more well-informed and better decision for the long term.
3. You won’t be able to get a job in the new industry without any experience
This is a very common concern for anyone changing careers. But think of it this way. When you think of getting a job, it’s likely that your mind goes to CV’s and job applications.
This is not the best way to look for a new job as it stands today, let alone if you’re looking to change career.
The most important thing to remember is that a career change has very little to do with CVs and job applications. It is all about meeting people, learning new skills, expanding your network and being open to experience, in any way that it comes.
By focusing on these things, you’ll increase your chances of being considered for your dream job in your new career path because you’re more likely to be at the top of someone’s mind (or at least in their field of vision) when an opportunity arises. So, clear your head of sending out endless applications and rejections.
4. You’ll never get back to the level that you’re currently at, or it will take too long (AKA FOMO)
Again, when it comes to fears over stemming the progress of your career, it’s important to try and focus on what you will gain and learn. While you may not be at the level you would have been at had you stayed in your old career, what will you have gained instead?
More quality time with family, a new expertise, new career options that you would not have otherwise, less stress, more hair, better skin, great sleep? The possibilities are endless, and unique to you. Focus on what you will have instead of thinking of what you COULD be missing out on.
And it’s a big COULD because by focusing on what you might lose, you’re making assumptions that can’t be validated, after all, you do not know the path that your career would have taken, whether or not you would have got that promotion over someone else, or any other thing that may or may not have happened had you stayed put. Your FOMO is not the best gauge of whether or not you should make a career change.
5. You know you want to change careers but have no clue what you want to change to
When you’ve been miserable, uninspired and demotivated for a long time, things can be very foggy and it’s easy to lose touch with what you want, what you like, or even who you are.
If you haven’t got a clue where to start the best thing you can do is to start learning, doing and experiencing.
Learn by speaking to people, reading and attending industry events. Do by volunteering and Experience and learn by doing work experience (yes, it’s not just for teenagers)
It may sound silly but if you have no ideas at all about what you want it’s important to first see what’s out there and what it all involves.
Think about what you might enjoy and then for each of these things, investigate further by learning about it, doing it (or something similar) and experiencing it in anyway you can.
You’ll soon be well on your way to finding out what fits and what doesn’t and while it may feel like a bit of a process, it will be well worth it when you finally figure out the right career path for you.