3 Signs You Need a Whole New Career — Not Just a New Job

woman thinking at desk

Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Becca Carnahan
Becca Carnahan1.05k
Career Coach & Mom of 2

It’s Monday morning and the alarm goes off reminding you it’s time to get moving. Begrudgingly, you pull yourself out of your cozy cocoon and start getting ready for a job you simply can’t stand.

Except for the hot cup of coffee in your hand, there’s nothing pleasant about this picture, and if the scenario sounds far too familiar you’re not alone.

Across the globe, only 15% of people are engaged at work. That means a whopping 85% of people are experiencing some version of the groggy blanket cocoon drag themselves to a job they hate morning. Yikes.

If you relate, you can be a part of changing that statistic. You can make a change and start loving your job. 

The first step is recognizing you need a change. Asking yourself these five questions will clear that right up.

Then the next step is figuring out what that change is — so you aren’t simply running away from something, you’re running towards something, which gives you a much higher likelihood of finding it. With that in mind, let’s walk through three key ways to know if you need a new job or a whole new career.

1. What gives you energy at work?

I know your immediate answer is going to be “Nothing, I don’t like my job!,” but stick with me.

Reflect on the past six to 18 months in your job. Has there been one time, even a half-hour meeting or a short project, when you felt energized, productive, excited, or even happy?

When you have your moment in mind, break it down. What was it about that time that stood out? Were you working on a project that allowed you to be more creative, or were you problem-solving with a different team? Were you leading the project or crunching the data?

Now, think about if you could incorporate more of that energy into your current job or by getting a different job in your company or industry. Or, consider if that energy is pointing you towards a totally new path.

2. What would be in your ideal job description?

Next, try writing your ideal job description. To do this answer the 5 Ws and an H for good measure.

  • Who would you be serving as clients/customers in your ideal job and who would you be working with (coworkers, manager, as a solopreneur)?

  • What problems would you be solving on a regular basis?

  • When would you work? Would your schedule be flexible, and if so, in what way? For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re working at least part of the day and not sipping Mai Tais on the beach for a living.

  • Why would you get out of bed to do this work? Is it serving a mission you feel strongly about or does the work bring you joy? Are you bringing home a great paycheck that supports your family's needs?

  • Where are you working physically? In the office, remote, hybrid, standing up, sitting down, on the go?

  • How do you spend your day? Are you working in teams, alone, a mix of the two? How are you utilizing your skills?

Go back to your answers and see how well they line up with your current career path. If you are checking some of the boxes around how you spend your day and the problems you are solving, then a new job at a different company could be the right fit. However, if you are currently at a 0/5, head to the next big question.

3. What really needs to be different?

I told you we want to run towards something instead of away from something, and I stand by that. However, it is important to ask yourself what really needs to be different in your next role.

For example, is your salary the big factor that is driving your desire for change? Your negotiation power is strong in 2022 so consider looking for another role or negotiating internally.

Do your day-to-day responsibilities need to change? Then you may be looking at a new career path, or at least an uplevel in responsibilities since a switch to a similar role at a different company will likely give you the same frustrations.

Maybe you aren’t inspired by what your company does and that is leaving you out of sorts. If that’s the case, then start to research if there are companies more aligned with your values where you could find a new job. If nothing gets you excited or inspired in your current space, it could be time to change careers.

Now What?

Now that you’ve worked through these big questions, let’s take the next step.

If a new job is in order, check out the Fairygodboss Best Companies for Women list to create a target list of potential employers. Then read the company reviews to see if the company would be the best for YOU.

If you’re after a big career change, build up your confidence by understanding your transferable skills and then start networking to tell your story.

Deciding to make a change and what kind of change to make isn’t always super straightforward. You have a lot on your mind. But a structured process can make it easier, and you can make this happen. You could even love Mondays.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for when you feel stuck at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.

Becca Carnahan is a career coach, author, and mom from Massachusetts. As the founder and CEO of Next Chapter Careers, LLC, she specializes in helping women and moms make big career changes to find more joy and fulfillment at work. Signup for her weekly newsletter and access free career resources at beccacarnahan.com