Thursday, 1 October 2020

Finding the courage to change your career

There are many reasons you may be contemplating changing your career. The catalyst for this change may not have even been your choice. If you’ve had the same career for many years, it can become part of your identity and the idea of changing this can be extremely daunting. If you dread the thought of going to work each morning, there is obviously a problem that needs to be solved. People can be adversely affected by the pressure of unrealistic workloads, or by an unpleasant work environment. However, there are ways you can embrace the new chapter in your life and find the courage to do so wholeheartedly.

Why change career?

According to the employment search site, Flexjobs, the five top reasons people choose to change career are:

  • Pay – many people simply want more money and realise that a different career path can lead to this.
  • Recognition - lack of recognition for being a good employee can make people feel unappreciated.
  • Promotion – if there isn’t the possibility to advance in your current role, you could feel stuck in a rut with nothing to look forward to.
  • Stress – Some professionals will feel the toll of a stressful occupation and may yearn for less responsibility. 
  • Flexible hours – striking the right work/life balance can be tricky if you have rigid work hours. A flexible role would be more appealing to those wanting or needing less rigidity and more freedom.

The impact of the work environment on your mental health

Spending each day in a job you don’t enjoy, or even detest, can have a significant impact on your mental health. When you hate the thought of the working week beginning yet again you may experience sleepless nights, anxiety and even depression. An excessive workload or responsibilities can lead to exhaustion both physically and mentally. When you recognise that your current role is having a negative effect on your wellbeing, you may consider a change of career.

How a negative work environment can affect existing mental health difficulties

According to the Health and Safety Executive:

“Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.”

Problems such as anxiety, stress and depression can all be exacerbated by a heavy workload, work pressures, and difficult managers or colleagues. If your workplace isn’t open to transparent conversations about mental health and assistance at work, you may find it difficult to change the circumstances.

Is your current role damaging your self-esteem?

Stress and anxiety aren’t the only problems created by a negative work environment, and you may find your confidence depleting as you tackle a building workload, or unsupportive colleagues and line managers. As your self-esteem decreases so does your confidence that you will be able to switch careers.

Fight the fear of the unknown by taking positive steps

It can be very stressful to think about leaving a secure job to plunge into an entirely new career – but it can also be very exciting. There are numerous steps you can take that will encourage better mental health and give you the courage to change career:

  • Speak to your support network outside work such as family and friends. Let them know what you are feeling and how a change of career will enrich your life. Having their support will help build the courage to take steps to find a new and better career
  • Use visualisation exercises to see what your future could be like once you make the change
  • Make a pros and cons list to determine the reality of your current situation versus what you envisage will happen when you change careers. Once you can see how much better life will be once you find a job you actually like, you will have more confidence to make the change.
  • Take time away from the situation completely. If possible, book a few days away among nature and meditate on what really matters to you. Even short walks in woodland or forests can help centre your thoughts.

Positive actions such as those mentioned above can help to build confidence in yourself and the decisions you make.

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