5 Things to Consider When Making a Career Change

Breaking up with your idea of success might be worth it for your happiness.

Posted Sep 16, 2018

Kristin Meekhof
London
Source: Kristin Meekhof

One of society's most frequent messages about the key to well-being is this: Live your best life. One way to "live your best life" is to do the type of work you love. However, if you're feeling "stuck" in a job, then you likely feel it is more of a hostage situation than living your best life. It may be a case of the "golden handcuffs," meaning your budget and benefits revolve around your work income and your lifestyle in general. Yet, if you find your work environment to be hostile, if it is making you literally sick, or if you're at the point where it is time to pivot (for various reasons) here are five things (in no particular order) to consider when it comes to making a career move.

1. Consider breaking up with your personal definition of success. Ask yourself how you are defining a successful career. If you've obtained a particular title or coveted office space, yet find yourself constantly watching your back because you're fearful someone is going to do you damage, it might not represent the idea of success you initially pictured. Fear based living can have negative consequences on both your physical health and your emotional well-being.

2. Do the emotional and financial math. Consider going to a financial advisor or an accountant to look at the numbers. You may be surprised to hear that money may be available to you without heavy taxes when you separate from your job. And that being said, don't hesitate to get a second opinion from another accountant. While downsizing may not be your first choice, upgrading your personal well-being may be worth it. And most importantly, consider the emotional numbers—the number of nights you've been without sleep, the number of times you've choked back tears, and the number of meetings you've been slammed in. These metrics are also real and of value.

3.  Start to associate what you're willing to giving up with a positive feeling, such as "freedom" or "relief".  In other words, become willing to give something up to gain the reward. If you find yourself clenching your jaw at the thought of making any sacrifices, remember it is often hard to get something without letting something else go. While you might be letting go of certain benefits, think about what you will gain, such as more time or a more peaceful environment.

4. Remember, money is not everything. In the United States, the money you earn is usually associated with a certain level of status. And that status is too often equated with personal happiness. Yet, many who are earning what they once desired are miserable in their careers. If you find yourself spending your hard earned dollars on medical bills linked to your work stress, ask yourself, "Is it really worth my health to continue on this path?" 

5. Explore other possibilities. There are times when you are your own worst enemy, meaning you think there's nothing in the land of career opportunities because you've convinced yourself no one would hire you. It is difficult to know if this is the truth if you haven't explored all possibilities. And it begins with a mindset shift. Be willing to be open yourself to something different and let your ego take a backseat.

Becoming successful is relative when it comes to your professional domain. And the point here is that trying to prevent that sinking feeling you get each time you think about work is like trying to stop the rain by putting up an umbrella. You know that gut feeling is there. You can't talk away your work stress. If you try to minimize it, and you feel your heart burning with anger and fear, then it might be time to consider shifting to something new.

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