Do you dread Mondays? Feel like Fridays can't come soon enough? It's normal to have a bad day at work from time to time, but if you hate your job week after week, that's a sign it's time for a change.
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But how do you determine whether you need a new job or an entirely new career?
If you're on the fence about taking a new direction in your professional life, here are five questions to ask yourself:
1. Do I Lack Passion?
Think about the big-picture outcomes of your profession. Do they make you feel excited or apathetic? Your career should be more than a paycheck – it should align with your personality, purpose, and values. If you still get a charge when you think about the "why" behind your career field, then you likely just need a change of environment to reignite your passion.
On the other hand, if you no longer find meaning in your profession's mission – or, worse, you fundamentally disagree with it – it's time to find a new career better suited to your goals.
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2. Am I Proud of What I Do?
When someone asks what you do, are you quick to tell them, or do you try to change the subject?
If you're good at what you do and proud of your profession, you don't need a new career. You'll likely find renewed happiness with your work by moving to a new company with better procedures, policies, or politics.
A new career may be in order, however, if you're embarrassed by what you do or if you no longer feel a personal connection to the profession.
3. Do I Have Skills?
Think about the skills your career requires. Do you find them challenging, meaningful, and exciting? It doesn't matter whether you're naturally gifted in these areas – it matters if enjoy them.
If your answer is yes, then look for a job that will fully utilize your skills. If your answer is no and you have an irrepressible desire to try something new or a feeling that many of your natural talents are going to waste, then you should seek out a career that answers your true calling.
4. Am I Exhausted All the Time?
You spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. Unhappiness there can spill over into all parts of your life and leave you feeling tired, worn down, or ill.
If you suffer from chronic stress and fatigue despite making positive changes in your personal life, your job may be the culprit. If you've already changed jobs and still feel the symptoms, your career may need a shift.
5. Do I Feel Trapped?
Do you wonder how you ended up in this profession? When you think about work, are you resentful? You're not alone. Many professionals make all the "right" choices for their careers but still feel unfulfilled. That's because they made choices based on external expectations, not on what felt right in their guts.
A career shouldn't feel like a prison sentence, and it's never too late to make a change. Regain a sense of control by coming up with a plan. Determine where your passions lie and how you can turn them into a career, then come up with action steps to make it happen (going back to school, for example).
Jodie Shaw is the chief marketing officer for The Alternative Board (TAB).