How to know when it’s time for a career change: conduct a career check up.
Are you tired of realizing years down the line, that the path that you're on in your professional life no longer serves you. Perhaps you've known deep down for quite some time that you are on the wrong path. But rather than facing up to the change, you decided to put your head down, display grit and persevere with the chosen path. Do you regret all those lost years that you spent on the path that was not right for you? This article sets out how to know when you are ready for change and when you may need to persevere.
A career check-up could save you years of your life and many thousands of dollars.
If you suspect you may be stuck on the wrong path, then you probably:
Are considering whether to make a change or just stay on track.
Feel that the stakes to change are too high.
Feel that you've just invested far too much time and money into making a change.
I went through the same thing when I was a medical doctor. It took me nearly 10 years after qualifying to have the courage to decide that it was time for me to make a change - despite the fact that I had known that I was on the wrong path from my early years at medical school.
Reasons people stay stuck on a path they know may not be right for them:
The natural instinct is to ‘double-down’, try harder and perhaps try to ‘fix’ whatever it is that they think may need ‘fixing’.
People are acutely aware of ‘sunk costs' associated with their current path - time and/or money. Although sunk costs are a factor, many reasons are beyond the ‘economical’ and more psychological.
Many people pride themselves in their grit and perseverance. I am one of them, but it can have it’s weaknesses. Digging in, applying grit, and having a ‘never quit’ mindset, can be a reason that it is difficult to stop and assess whether you are on the right path.
Having a really strong identity with the path that you chose several or many years ago can make it difficult to consider change. I went through this as a medical doctor. I had decided to attach my ego to the idea of being a doctor when I was a teenager. It took me until my early 30’s to realize and accept that it was okay for me to let go of the identity that I pinned my ego to in my teen years.
Most people are not in a mindset where they stop, assess and explore whether their current professional track is right for them.
The fear of change is also substantial:
The stakes are high, especially when in a reasonably lucrative and successful role/profession.
Fear of loss of financial stability: a reliable salary and benefits.
Some discomfort around a potential change or loss in status.
Fear of failing at a ‘new’ endeavor or path.
Fear that making another ‘wrong’ decision will cost them even more valuable time.
Unfortunately, in my experience, allowing those fears to take over, leads to ‘staying stuck’ for
even longer. Ultimately, if the path you are on is not right for you, it will take its toll and you will be forced to make a change - sometimes, several years after first noticing the signs that change may be required. The longer you leave change, the harder it can be to undertake. I believe you are never too old and it’s never too late, but delaying change has additional challenges.
A solution to knowing when you are ready for change: a career check-up:
Twice a year, at least every 6 months, set aside a block of time to sit and reflect.
Take an hour or 2 out of your day for a career-check up.
I first read about this notion, in Adam Grant’s book, Think Again.
He says: When it comes to our motor vehicle, our teeth and our health, we don't wait until there is something wrong to go for a checkup. We take our car for service. We go to see the dentist for our checks. We see our physicians for our annual checkups. We should do the same with our professional lives.
Diarize time every 6 months to conduct a career check-up.
Ask yourself these questions:
When did you form the ideas and aspirations for the path that you're currently pursuing?
How have you changed or what has changed since then?
·Have you reached a plateau in your learning? Are you continuing to feel intellectually challenged in your work?
Do you honestly feel that you're operating at your best in your current role or on your current path? Or do you feel that you have more to give?
Is it time to consider a pivot or at least consider whether there is some sort of change you could make?
Once you've conducted your career check-up, if you think you may need to consider making a change, it’s then time to take action. Do not delay. So many of my clients arrive to my 1 to 1 coaching program experiencing regret for not investing in making change sooner.
Reach out to a professional, to a mentor, or a coach and explore opportunities for where you could take your professional life - because once you decide that you should make a change, well that’s when the real work begins: how you will redefine and build a powerful professional path. A path where you are operating at your best and excelling in your field.
So go now, open your diary and schedule your career-check ups for the next few years. If you find you are in the need of (at least exploring) change, then remember I offer a free strategy call for anyone looking to explore building their own powerful professional path. Click on any of the free call buttons where you are reading this blog.