Knowing the right step to take when changes or challenges in one’s career come is very important to both the success and well-being of any career person.
A career is the series of interrelated work a person does in a particular field of work that forms a major part of their life and they get varying (usually more sophisticated) degrees of responsibility as they advance.
As an individual advances in their career, a time will come when challenges or changes will occur either with the work, or the life of the individual. At such time, the individual is faced with two options, one of which will be the best option depending on the situation:
- adjust or adapt to the changes and challenges of the career,
- change career path totally and look for one that is more suited to them at that time.
But the big question is how can I know when I need to change or when to change my career?
Before going into when to change a career, I would like to address a misconception that makes people skeptical about leaving their careers in the first place. I call it the curse of loyalty.
The Curse of Loyalty
The curse of loyalty is a wrong mindset that is widely held about what loyalty to an organization or career means. There is a widespread belief that staying in an organization or career path continually is proof of loyalty.
However, that is not fully true. While loyalty can lead to longevity in a career, longevity is not always the proof of loyalty. The dictionary defines loyalty as staying with and supporting a particular person or cause. The emphasis is actually on supporting that person.
If you stay with someone to plan their downfall, you are not loyal. So we can say loyalty is a commitment to the advancement of a cause or a person.
Now bringing the comparison back to longevity, there are times when to truly seek the advancement of the organization or career, it will be required that the individual leave the career. But because people want to be loyal, they keep staying there even when their stay is costing the organization.
That is the Curse of Loyalty!
For a leaf to be truly loyal to a tree, a time will come when it needs to fall off, not because it dislikes the tree but because its falling is necessary for the growth of the tree. So if you are in an organization or career and are not giving in your best because of certain circumstances that you cannot control, that is the clearest sign that it’s time to leave.
Leaving there is proof of your loyalty because you are more concerned about the best interest of the organization or career than your reputation of being loyal.
The 3 Ultimate Signs It Is Time To Change Your Career
1. You are no longer passionate about the career
You are passionate about a career when work, production, or contribution towards that career keeps stirring up your desire for more work, production, and contribution. The sign of passion is desire, not motivation or energy.
Once you get to a point in a particular career where you no longer desire more work after the work you have done, then you have lost passion for it. The factor is desire because a lot of things can affect your motivation and energy towards the work even though it is something you desire.
For example, if the pay is so low and you have a lot of debts to pay, you might still have a desire deep within you for that work but you wouldn’t be motivated because of the debts you have and you will lose energy too.
PS: sometimes you might have a desire for the office environment or the associations you made because of that career but all of that shouldn’t be confused with a desire for work. Work is labor, contribution, and production. It comes with some level of stress. Only when you still desire that work are you truly passionate about it.
2. The career no longer satisfies your needs
You should identify what your needs were that made you go into that career in the first place. On identifying that need, the question of changing the career becomes answered.
Sometimes although you might not be aware, it is because your needs are no longer being met by that career that your passion (desire for work or production) dies.
For some individuals, the need they require from a career is the financial reward. For others, it is the balance it creates for their social life. For others, it’s a desire to contribute to something meaningful.
Whatever you want that career to give you should be the central reason why you are there. Once it is no longer there you, should no longer be there too. And if you are thinking that you might be disloyal for leaving, remember that staying there will do the work disservice because you are no longer giving in your best.
So instead of giving half-hearted work, loyalty demands that you leave. Also, trying to stay there and force yourself to be satisfied will drain your mental well-being and still cause the organization or career loss. The best thing to do is to leave.
3. The career no longer matches your values
Our definition of what is worthwhile or important (our values) changes with time. On the other hand, the values of a career or an organization do not change as fast as that of Individuals.
When you notice that your personal values are not in correlation with the values or demands of that career that is a sign that is time to have a career change. Staying in a career that does not match your values will not bring you any satisfaction.
It becomes even worse when the values have a sharp contrast: they make you feel you are living a substandard life.
The difference in values here does not just mean your belief system, it can also happen when the career is taking away another important aspect of your life. These are two different situations.
The first is a situation of conflicting ideologies and the second is that the career is hindering you from other necessities. For example, a career that helplessly takes you away from your family is already breaching the value of quality family time, and at such times you should know that it is time to leave that career. So you can have time for other important things.
It is normal to want to have a career change and it is necessary sometimes. You should be careful not to be caught with the curse of loyalty by staying in a career that you know is time for you to leave. You can know it is time to leave the career when you are no longer passionate about it, it longer satisfies your needs, or it no longer matches your values. Once you identify these signs, you know it is time for you to leave because leaving will both benefit you and benefit the organization in the long run.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.