In an ideal world, we would all have figured out exactly what we want to do in life by the time we’re ready to enter the world of work. The reality is that this is rarely the case. Even if we get it right to begin with, ten, twenty years down the line, a career change might well be inevitable. Often, the path we choose initially seems to be the right one, but the further into that career we go, the more we may realise that it’s not quite what we expected.
When this happens, people generally make two choices – stay put and hope it gets better, or get off that path and embark on a new one. Neither of these two choices is easy to make and there are a multitude of factors to consider before any action or non-action takes place.
So what do you do if you feel like you’re on the wrong path?
Decide how unhappy you actually are – Is this a phase, perhaps spurred on by a bad few weeks, or few months, at work? Or is it something that you have struggled with for years? If it has only been a short time, consider waiting it out a bit longer to make sure it isn’t just a stage, but if it has been a while, you may need to face the fact it won’t get better without action.
Figure out what is making you unhappy – It’s important to be honest about where your unhappiness comes from at work. You need to ascertain if it is your boss, your colleagues, the company culture or the actual work you have to do. Perhaps it’s not the career, it’s the organisation or the specific role within the industry that you don’t enjoy.
Explore your options – You don’t need to commit to any of them, but when you’re sure of the reason behind your unhappiness, explore the options you could realistically pursue. If it’s the company, not the career, have a look for other similar job posts. If it’s the career, things can be a bit trickier. You need to ask yourself some difficult questions. Maybe the industry is right, but your path within it isn’t. You might consider taking a step back in order to progress in the right direction.
What do you want to do?
Maybe you know (or at least, think you know), but if you don’t, you need to find out before you make any bold moves. But how can you possibly know? You may have an idea, but that’s a lot to gamble on.
A good idea is to ‘dabble’ in your potential new direction. Take a course, study for yourself, talk to others, and aim to take on some ad hoc work to see if it’s really something you enjoy. The difference between how you perceive a new job to be and how it actually is can be vast. If you can have a taster before any commitment, then strive for that.
Just because you have a career, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. If you once enjoyed it but don’t any longer, it might be time to see exactly what you can do about it.