The No. 1 Way To Know if You Should Make a Career Change vs. A Job Switch

two pathways, one leading to "career change" and one leading to "new job"

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Trie Angeleva321
Dream-Job Career Coach
May 18, 2024 at 6:40AM UTC

At some point in our work life, most of us reach a point where we feel unhappy, under-challenged or simply over our jobs. We don’t like our boss. We feel undervalued. We’ve come to dread Monday. We’ve started to think it’s time to find a new job.

But maybe it’s bigger than that. 

Maybe it’s time to switch careers entirely. 

Changing jobs or careers can be a huge decision impacting every aspect of our lives — from our daily routine and income to our health, happiness and success. Yet how are we supposed to know whether it’s right to make that big decision?

It’s actually incredibly simple: get clear on your personal and professional goals and priorities.

Life is often this series of push and pull energies — decisions we must make between short-term goals and pleasures vs long-term goals and deep desires. For example:

  • Do I eat this amazing chocolate brownie (satisfying your short-term craving) or do I eat this handful of blueberries (fulfilling your long-term goal of eating healthy)? 
  • Do I buy this cute red dress (satisfying your short-term desire for something new) or wear one I already own (fulfilling your long-term goal of spending wisely)?
  • Do I take job X, which will pay really well (satisfying a short-term goal of earning good money) or do I accept job Y, which will let me manage a team (fulfilling a long-term goal of being in a leadership role)?

To determine if you need to change jobs or careers, start by spending time getting vividly clear on what your short-term and long-term goals are, and which you need to focus on right now (your priorities). 

For example, if money is your top priority right now, but you dislike your boss, find a similar job with similar pay but a better organizational culture. If making your mark on the world is your priority and your current line of work won’t let you do that, find a career that will.

If you’re not sure how to figure out your deepest goals, there’s an incredibly powerful exercise I offer clients and students to help them determine exactly what they want to create in their work and life. I call it “Your Next Big Birthday Party.” Here’s a quick version of it.

Picture yourself at your next milestone birthday party (25, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc.).

  • Where is it held? How is the place decorated?
  • What are you wearing?
  • Who is there? Who is at your table? Who is sitting next to you? 
  • Who gives the first toast, and specifically, what do you hope this person says about you?
  • What aspects of your life does this person focus on most?
  • How do you feel at the end of the toast, the party, and where do you go and with whom when it’s over?

What decisions do you need to make over the next few or several years personally and professionally to achieve this vision? 

Spend quality time with this exercise, and you’ll gain total clarity on your values, purpose, mission, biggest goals, vision of multiple aspects of your life— and whether it’s time to switch jobs or make that career change.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Trie Angeleva, M.A., M.A., is a Certified Mindful Career and Life Coach with a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. She owns Reimagine Monday and founder of The Love Monday Method. Connect with her on Instagram, and if you’re considering a career change, grab her free resource: “Your Exceptional Career Transformation Checklist” featuring the exact 7 steps you need to take to find work that’s the right fit for your goals, strengths, purpose and intention.

What’s your no. 1 way to know if you should make a career change or a job switch? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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