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Money or Happiness: Midcareer Changers Find Both

Evan Carmichael, master of small business motivation and strategies, warns about “The Cage”–a stable, well-paying job that lacks many of the characteristics that translates into a happy professional. If you’re suffering from a lack of fulfillment, feel as though you’re not being challenged, or that you’re sorely undervalued, you just might be a candidate for a job change. But breaking out of the cage requires a delicate combination of audacity and strategy. Simply jumping ship could end in disaster. Recognizing the need for change and then knowing when and how to do it are keys to a successful transition.

When You Feel Like Your Spinning Your Wheels
Familiarity breeds comfort, particularly in the workplace. In fact, you may even be staying with a job you hate just because your subconscious appreciates reliability–a steady, even competitive, paycheck, fixed hours, a short commute, a likeable boss, or team of colleagues. However, something in the back of your minds tells you the grass may be greener. It may or may not be, but you may never know unless you find out for yourself.

Aside from career permanence, excessive stress might also be nudging you towards the door. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, stress may play a more critical role in your desire to change careers than you may realize.

• 40 percent of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
• 25 percent of workers view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives
• Three-fourths of employees believe they experience more on-the-job stress than a generation ago
• 29 percent of workers felt “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressed at work
• 26 percent of workers said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work”
• Job stress has a direct correlation to health complaints

When to Change Careers–and When Not To
It can be tough to know if you should listen to the voice in your head telling you that you deserve better. If you’ve spent the better part of your life specializing in a particular career or industry, pulling the trigger is even more difficult. CNN Money reveals some telltale signs that it’s time to move on.

The Grunt Work. If you find yourself being forced to take on assignments that no one else in the department wants, that could be a red flag
Clipped Wings. Despite the fact that you have specialized skills and talents, you’re excluded from new projects or taking on additional responsibilities
Continuous Exclusion. You’re consistently railroaded from important meetings or decision-making sessions. Your opinion means little to new strategies
Good Old Fashioned Hate. If getting up in the morning and going to the office summons your gag reflex, a change may be immanent

On the flip side, there are definitely situations where changing jobs or careers can be a step backwards. Understanding where your feelings come from is traditionally vital. The Brazen Careerist contends that, in some instances, working through your problems can be a better solution than just jumping ship. Desires such as ridding yourself of an oppressive boss, looking for more prestige, wanting to meet new people or attaining happiness often can’t be satisfied through a job change.

If You’re Going to Change Jobs, Do It Right
Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. of QuinCareers offers these common career change mistakes that most people make–and you should avoid.

Changing Careers without Education. Going back to school and absorbing new information is essential to success in your new role
Deciding Based on Outside Forces. If you’re changing careers based on other’s opinions, outside pressures or the money factor, this could sabotage your ultimate goal
Excluding Self-examination. It might not be the job–it might be you. A fresh perspective on your current position might possibly change your mind

As a final thought, America’s Job Exchange encourages you to volunteer in an industry that interests you and return to school for additional training if you’re serious about making that move.

America’s Job Exchange, Should You Change Jobs Now?
Brazen Careerist, Five situations when you shouldn’t change careers
CNN Money, 8 signs it’s time to change jobs
Evan Carmichael, Should You Change Jobs? Eight Things to Think About
NIOSH, Stress in Today’s Workplace
Quintessential Careers, 10 Career Change Mistakes to Avoid


Publish date: January 3, 2009