10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Changing Careers

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Changing careers can be very stressful and overwhelming. When we feel overwhelmed and stressed, it can be hard to process our thoughts correctly and think rationally.

So, to help you find clarity in your decision, this post will discuss 10 questions to ask yourself before changing your career.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Career Change

Firstly, before ask yourself the following questions, consider this big one: Do you hate your career, or your job?

The difference between a career and a job is that a career is a series of connected employment opportunities that offer you skills, experience and development opportunities. Whereas a job is something you do to earn money; to fill a gap or a void in your life.

Sure, a job can be part of your long term career. But, a job is still easier to change and can still be in the same industry. For example, you may change from a human resources administrator to a human resources assistant.

However, this post is focused on changing career: the thing you have worked on for (most likely) years. All your previous relevant work experience has led up to this career. If you’re wanting to change career, this will look more like going from being an accountant to a teacher. Or a journalist to a lawyer. The chances are, you’ll be in a completely different field, playing a completely different ball game and it’s not a decision to take lightly. Consider the below questions before changing career.

1. What is it about your current career that you don’t like?

Before starting your search for a new and exciting career, you should know what to avoid.

What is it about your current career that you don’t like?  The working environment, the long hours, the nature of the work or the pressure? Once you’ve figured this out, you can look for a new career that doesn’t have these things, leaving you feeling more satisfied and fulfilled.

2. What is it about your current career that you do like?

Alternatively to question number one, what is it about your current career that you like?

Maybe you have a short commute? Or the atmosphere in your office is really nice? Perhaps you actually really enjoy how much responsibility you have (note: if you change career you might not end up with as much responsibility). Find the things in your career that make you happy, and look for these in your new career choice.

3. Beyond your career, what is important to you?

With the average person spending over 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, it is easy to get obsessed with our careers. However, we must not forget that there is more to life than a 9 to 5.

When changing career, ask yourself what you really value in life. Is it saving the environment, caring for others or working to stop war? In order to be truly fulfilled and happy, you should align your career with your core values. If your career does not match your core values, then you will be left feeling discontented and like a black cloud is hanging over your head. 

4. Do you have the skills, interests and passion needed for a career change?

There is no doubt that a career change is likely to mean some sort of retraining. But the question to ask when considering a career change is how much retraining is needed?

Do you have strong set or transferable skills? Or, are you going to have to go back to university or school to take further training? If you need to retrain, do you have the time and/or the funds to do so?

Furthermore, when considering a career change, consider wether your personality and interests align to your new career. Understanding your personality and interests is the key to understanding yourself. Understanding yourself will allow you to really know what career will suit you.

5. Can you afford a career change?

A career change can be very expensive. The chances are, you’ll have to start in position lower down the pecking order than what you are now. And, with this normally comes a lower income.

It is also not uncommon for people to leave a fast-paced and highly paid career in the search of a quieter life, often meaning less pay. If you can afford this, then great. However, if you can’t then it may be worth considering whether a career change is right for you and your family.

6. What do you hope to gain from a new career?

There has to be a reason as to why you’re changing career – so figure this out.

Are you on the search for happiness, fulfillment, more money or more responsibility? What you are looking to gain from a new career can be anything… but make sure you find a career that promotes these things.

7. Will your family and friends support you in changing career?

Although we should always do things in life for ourself, the influence and opinion of our family and friends will always play a huge part.

Do your family think you have the right resources to make this leap? Are they happy to also take the cut in earnings or the risk of it all going wrong? Everything in life is always easier when we have the approval and the support of those we care about.

8. What are the long-term opportunities for this new career?

When considering a career change, consider what the long term plan is.

For example, consider whether you will be able to progress in this new career. Is the progression quicker than what it would be if you stayed in your current career. If it isn’t, are you happy to take the slower progression in return for a career that will potentially offer you more satisfaction?

9. What pre-planning do you need before changing career?

Another question to consider is how prepared you are for a career change. Do you feel like you’ve planned enough to start tomorrow, or do you need more time?

Changing career is a big decision, and you need to put a plan into action. Break down the big goal and take small steps (e.g., start by researching what skills you will need and enrolling in some courses).

10. Are you being realistic?

Finally, it is important to consider the reality of your plan. Is this really the right time to be changing career? Have you considered all of the above questions?

I’m a big believer in grabbing the bull by the horns and embracing life, but I also feel that every decision, every risk, should be calculated and realistic.

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