A new job might not be the answer - maybe you need an entire career change

Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on whether it is time for a career change.


The old phrase “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life" is a nice ideal but I have looked into it and unfortunately it is rare to get paid for sitting on the couch, eating pizza and watching Netflix (please let me know if you know a company hiring for this position).

The vast majority of people tend to complain about certain parts of their jobs but there is a huge difference between hating your job and hating your career. It is relatively easy to get a new job in the same industry, and leave a nasty boss or an unwelcoming workplace behind. It is a different matter to change careers entirely but sometimes it is required. This does not just apply to people who feel unsuccessful in their current career path - if you do not like your career then no matter how high you get on it you will still be on the wrong ladder.

In Ireland, we start making decisions about our future careers at a very young age. At 15 or 16, we select subjects for our Leaving Certificate. These subjects determine what courses we can apply for in college. Then during a highly stressful year of exam cramming, we select a college course vaguely based on our interests and what we think a particular job will be like, usually without any first-hand experience of it. After college we get a job which puts us on a particular career path. It is scary to move from that path, the one you put yourself on when you were just a teenager. Many people stick with it because it is all they have ever known. But are they actually happy? Are you happy, or have you realised that you too are climbing the wrong ladder?

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If you are unhappy, there are several questions you may be asking yourself that signal in themselves that you may need to consider a career change.

  1. Do you hate the thought of still doing the same type of work in ten years’ time?
  1. Do you feel constantly tired? Do you dread going to work so much that you feel sick? Sunday evening fear has become a much-exaggerated joke on social media but do you lie awake at night just because you dread going to work that day?
  2.  Are your skills and talents ignored or under-appreciated?
  3. Do you hate the kind of work you are doing, even if you are good at it?
  4. Are you willing to put in the work to change careers - this could mean doing a part-time course, taking a pay cut and starting off at a more junior level?

If you have answered yes to these questions, then it probably is time to switch careers. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. You will only get one life. You owe it to yourself to find the right job so that time is spent happily.

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