Changing careers is no small feat. You’ve worked for years towards building a solid career, gaining experience and expertise along the way. It can be very daunting to walk away from all that and start something totally new. However, among boomer professionals, this has become a common practice. At a certain stage of their professional life, these boomers decide a secure job is not the only thing they want and seek out something more fulfilling. But with such a big decision, it should never be made lightly so if you have thought about making a career change, ask yourself these questions first.
Why am I unhappy now?
The desire for a career change usually comes at a point where you realise you are unhappy at work. Certainly, remaining in a job that makes you unhappy can be a miserable experience and you can’t be blamed for wanting to get out of such a situation. But before taking drastic steps, first explore that unhappiness. When did it start? Is it a recent feeling? You also have to determine what is causing this feeling of unhappiness. Sometimes we can relate an unhappiness we’ll feeling in our personal life to how we are feeling in our professional life. It’s important to really explore these feelings, as difficult as it may be, so that you aren’t letting other aspects of your life interfere with your career in ways you’ll regret later on.
Is it something that can be fixed?
Once you determine what the issue is with your current job, it’s time to consider what steps can be taken. No doubt the issue is serious, but quitting your job is not the only solution to the problem. Before taking any steps in that direction you should then actively try to remedy the situation. Examine the problem and see if it there is a way it could be addressed that would leave you more content in remaining in the position. Discuss it with colleagues and managers, giving others a chance to address the issue as well. It is entirely possible that the problem in question has no solution, but before making final decisions, you want to be sure you did everything you could to make things work before moving on.
What will a change bring me?
Unfortunately, if there is a problem with your current work situation, a career change is not a sure-fire way to deal with it. This takes a deep understanding of the problem at hand and a good deal of self-awareness. Will you simply be bringing the same problems to your new job? What is this new job offering you that you weren’t getting at your old job? Just because a problem has been identified doesn’t mean that the solution is obvious. Again, this is a major decision to make and your expectations for what it will bring you need to be realistic.
Is this the right time?
Leaving one job to start over at a new job is a move full of risks. Do you know you’ll be able to secure a position quickly? How long can you afford to be on the job search? These are important questions to consider because the financial shock of leaving a steady job can cause a lot of problems if poorly planned. Consider the timing of this decision and whether it’s the best time for you to be without work. This doesn’t mean you have to sideline plans entirely, but maybe wait for a more opportune moment.
Am I ready for this new career?
Of course, when you decide you want to make a change, the job you plan to go into on the other end is not always up to you. Who is to say that there will even be available positions in this new ideal career? Then there is the question of how prepared you are for this new line of work. You’ve spent years in one field, but can those skills and that experience translate into the career you want? What further training or education do I need to prepare me for this new career? What is new in the industry that can help me hit the ground running in my new job?
Who can I speak to about my new career?
As with any new endeavor you are about to enter, knowing as much as you can about it beforehand helps prepare you better for the potential challenges. That is why, before starting any new job (or, in fact, making the career change) you should speak to someone with experience in that field. This is the best way to learn about the challenges, expectations and general work associated with the position when you don’t have any experience of your own. Take the opportunity to determine whether the move sounds like it is best for you.
Am I being realistic?
Such a change requires a lot of self-reflection in determining if it is the right move for you. You also have to ask yourself if this reaction is rational and realistic, or if you are overreacting to a bad situation. This is not meant to bring into question your own feelings toward your work, or to suggest they aren’t valid, but with such a big decision at stake, is this the wise choice? Is this going to help you in the end? Are you ready for a change? Or is this something that you’ll end up regretting in time?