Time for a career change? Ask these questions to find out


Think about a typical day of work. What is the experience like for you? Does it leave you feeling energized and engaged, depleted and drained, or just kinda bored and indifferent?

Studies have consistently shown that half the people out there are dissatisfied with their work. Think about that. Next time you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, statistically speaking, either the person in front of you or behind you is coming home from a job they’re unhappy with.

Or maybe the unhappy one is you! It can be easy to go into auto-pilot mode and just grind on through each week, but it’s worth taking yourself out of that loop to take an objective look. Because you don’t have to stay there!

Is it time for a change in your career? Here are some questions to help you evaluate that.

#1: Do I get to be who I am, or do I need to put on a costume when I show up every day (assuming you’re not paid to play batman)?

For SO many people, going to work is about another day of showing up and being who they’re not. Not only does that façade take a lot of energy to maintain, it’s also a sign that you’re not doing something that allows you to be where you’re naturally at your best.

Don’t think about it. How does it feel? Does it feel natural, or does it take effort just to get through another day of getting the job done?

#2: Identify the percentages

OK, this is more a formula for a question than a specific question itself. For any given topic, assign percentages to a high, neutral, and low response. If it helps to see it visually, try expressing it as a pie chart.

What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Energize me?
  • Drain and deplete me?
  • Feel neutral (not something you love, but fine to do)?

What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Engage me? (You feel drawn into it and it’s easy to stay focused on what you’re doing.)
  • Leave me feeling disengaged? (A trip to the dentist might be a welcome distraction.)
  • Feel neutral (Not bad. Not great. Doable.)?

What percentage of the time do I:

  • Feel like I’m in my groove? (Where you’re operating at your best, doing what you love and you’re good at?)
  • Feel like I’m in a grind?
  • Feel neutral about what I’m doing?

What percentage of the time do I:

  • Enjoy the work I’m doing?
  • Actively dislike the work I’m doing?
  • Feel neutral about the work I’m doing?

This is a handy way to do a quick assessment of any aspect of your work. You can assign percentages to things like, for example:

  • What percentage of my time spent interacting with my co-workers do I enjoy?
  • What percentage of what I do reinforces a feeling of confidence?
  • What percentage of what I do is something I would do without being paid, just because I enjoy it so much?

Assigning percentages like that is a valuable way to both force yourself to evaluate what’s going on and get a quick view of the situation.

It can also be valuable to ask questions that take you deeper. For example:

#3: When I think about seeing myself ten years down the road on the path I’m on, how does that feel? Twenty years?

Really let yourself dive into this one. Let it be a gut reaction, rather than an analysis. How does it feel to think about what you’re doing ten years on? Does it feel good, or do you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?

#4: Do I care about the outcome of what I do?

You don’t have to feel like you’re solving world hunger, but if you look at what you’re doing and find yourself thinking, “Really? Is this all there is?,” it might be a sign that you feel the need to do something that resonates more with the difference you feel called to make.

Is it time for a change? 

There is no formula where if you answered a certain percentage of the questions a certain way it’s time for a career change. These questions are simply designed to give you a better picture of how things really stand, and to put things in perspective.

As you look at the answers to the questions above, you might wrap up with one final question to help the insight flow more fluidly:

If I didn’t have to worry about _________ (whatever your head tells you is why you can’t make a change), would I keep doing what I’m doing, or would I make a change?

Separating how you feel about the fit of your work from the logistics of whatever a change might entail can help you see it with more clarity.

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]