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Unhappy In Your Career? Here’s How to Make the Career Change

Published On: May 7, 2018, Last Modified On: January 10, 2024, Author: Amy Sanchez

There are various times in life when we are asked what we want to do with our career. At that age, we don't even know if there is a thing called 'Career Change'. From a very young age, people start asking us, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  It’s found relatively harmless when we reply, at age seven, “I want to be an astronaut, or a ballerina, or a marine biologist.”  Adults typically laugh, pat our heads, and let us carry on with building our fort.  Yet, as we edge closer to making a decision, the feedback we receive to the question of career vocation starts to become more opinionated.  Oftentimes, the encouragement to consider things like money, stability, and societal judgement start to sprinkle the feedback (or, in some cases, dominate) from the adults who reply. That is when we start getting thoughts of changing career path. As a mother, I understand the desire to steer your child towards a career that has the highest probability of delivering financial independence.  But the challenge with this approach is that there are not three careers that match the gifts and desires of the diversity that makes up the human race.  But, for a number of logical reasons, we start to listen to the advice of the adults whom we trust and respect and we fall into a stable career.  And, for many of us, one day we wake up hating our 9 to 5 (or 7 to 11) and start having thought like, "How to change Career Path?".  If you find yourself in a similar situation where you are like 'I hate my job but it pays well', this article is for you.

When The Thoughts Of A Career Change Start To Creep In

As we get older and more experienced, if we’re not in the right career, a dissonance starts to slowly develop and after some time, resonates so loudly that it’s hard to ignore.  Career change seems to be the only remedy then. Some people do manage to ignore it and push it to the side.  (“It’s a job- you’re not supposed to like it.”)  I was not one of those people.  On top of the nagging voice inside my head that I was in the wrong career, I also started to feel more and more agitated and resentful that my job was becoming increasingly demanding and success in the future meant further sacrificing things that were important to me, like time with my family. Changing career seemed to be the only way out. I remembered once reading that Confucius said: “choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  He seemed pretty smart, so I decided to test his theory and, at the age of 36, I started my search for a career change that would be fulfilling.  Having come out on the other side and now, finally established in a career I love, here’s my advice to you, fellow soul-searcher.

It's a common experience for us to be asked about our career aspirations from a young age. As children, we dream of being astronauts, ballerinas, or marine biologists, and adults usually indulge us with laughter and encouragement. However, as we approach adulthood, the feedback we receive becomes more influenced by opinions and societal expectations. All of these little things play a crucial role in the career change decisions that we make later in our life and ultimately, they make us change our career path to achieve the ultimate mental peace.

Adults often emphasize practical considerations such as money, stability, and societal judgment when discussing choices for career change. While well-intentioned, this guidance can sometimes overshadow our true passions and potential. We may feel pressured to follow a path that aligns with external expectations rather than our own unique gifts and desires. Changing career then may make others happy but us miserable.

As a mother, I understand the desire to ensure your child's financial independence and well-being. However, it's essential to recognize that the diversity of the human race cannot be neatly encapsulated in just a few predetermined careers. Each individual possesses unique talents, passions, and aspirations that deserve to be nurtured and pursued.

Unfortunately, many of us succumb to the influence of trusted adults and settle into stable careers that ultimately leave us feeling unfulfilled. Over time, a dissonance can develop, causing frustration and resentment towards our jobs. We may begin to question whether there is something more meaningful and satisfying out there for us. We start thinking of a career change despite having a stable source of income.

If you find yourself in such a situation, this article is written with you in mind. It's important to acknowledge the voice inside that tells you something isn't quite right and recognize the growing agitation and longing for a more fulfilling career.

Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." This quote resonated with me, and at the age of 36, I embarked on a journey to find a career that would truly bring me joy and fulfillment. It wasn't an easy path, but I can now say that I have found a career I love. Changing career isn't an easy decision to make and you must be well aware of your current situation because what applied to someone might not apply to you.

Steps To Change Career Path And Find a Job you Love

1. Slow Down

This seems counterintuitive to creating change (and for those of us who identify as Type A) but it’s the most important first step.  Shed the extraneous tasks from your life and create space for your introspection.

In our fast-paced world, the idea of slowing down may seem counterintuitive, especially for those of us who identify as Type A personalities. However, when it comes to creating meaningful change in our lives, slowing down is actually a crucial first step.

Often, our lives become filled with endless tasks, commitments, and distractions that leave little room for introspection and self-reflection. We're constantly busy, rushing from one thing to another, and rarely taking the time to pause and truly connect with ourselves.

By consciously slowing down, we create the space and opportunity to delve into our inner world. It allows us to shed the extraneous tasks and obligations that may be occupying our time and energy, and instead prioritize introspection and self-discovery.

Slowing down doesn't mean that we stop being productive or ambitious. It means being intentional about how we spend our time and energy. By eliminating or delegating non-essential tasks, we create more room for self-care, reflection, and meaningful pursuits. Thus, before making a hefty decision of a career change, you really need to Slow-Down. It can really help you aid in finding the answer to your question, "How to change career paths?"

2. Make lists

Think about what you like and what you hate about your current and past roles.  Turn that into a “Must Have” and “Must Avoid” list.  These are the broad strokes that are starting to paint the picture of what your dream job looks like.

Making lists can be an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to exploring what you truly want in your dream job. By thinking about both the positive and negative aspects of your current and past roles, you can gain valuable insights that will guide you towards creating a "Must Have" and "Must Avoid" list.

Start by reflecting on your current and previous positions. What aspects of these roles brought you joy, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment? Write down the things you genuinely liked and appreciated. These could include specific tasks, responsibilities, working conditions, company culture, or opportunities for growth.

On the other hand, consider the aspects of these roles that you disliked, felt drained by, or found unfulfilling. These could be tasks, work environments, values misalignment, lack of growth opportunities, or anything else that made you unhappy. Be honest with yourself and write down your "Must Avoid" list. All these will greatly assist you in changing career smoothly.

By compiling these lists, you'll begin to identify patterns and themes that shape your ideal job. This process helps you understand what is truly important to you and what you are seeking in your career. Once you have figured out what it really is that makes you happy, all the hours you have put in planning your career change, will be worth it.

For example, your "Must Have" list might include factors such as work-life balance, opportunities for creativity, a collaborative team environment, a supportive and inclusive company culture, or the ability to make a positive impact on society. On the other hand, your "Must Avoid" list might include factors such as excessive bureaucracy, a toxic work environment, lack of growth opportunities, or a job that doesn't align with your core values.

These lists serve as a compass, guiding you towards making choices that align with your preferences and values. They become the broad strokes that paint the picture of your dream job. As you move forward in your career exploration, refer to these lists as a reference point to help you assess potential opportunities and make informed decisions.

Remember, these lists are not set in stone and can evolve over time. As you gain more clarity and self-awareness, you may discover new factors to add or modify. The goal is to continuously refine and align your understanding of your dream job with your personal and professional growth.

So, grab a pen and paper, make your lists, and let them serve as a guide as you navigate your career path. With each item you add, you bring yourself closer to finding the answer to your question 'How to change career path' and finding a role that aligns with your passions, values, and aspirations.

3. Start talking to people and searching the web

Once you identify what you like, start to brainstorm what form that could take in a career change.  Start searching online and reaching out to friends, colleagues, and even strangers to research some areas you might be interested in.  Don’t be afraid to email someone you don’t know to see if you can pick their brain (or get a mutual contact to introduce you- LinkedIn is a great place to start).  Be respectful in your approach and considerate of how much time you take.  Remember to thank everyone who helps you.  Ask everyone you speak with what they like and don’t like about their job and what their day-to-day looks like.

Once you have a clearer understanding of what you're looking for in your dream job, it's time to start exploring different career paths that align with your interests and preferences. This involves reaching out to people, conducting online research, and gathering insights about potential areas of interest.

To kick-start your exploration, leverage the power of networking. The importance of networking in changing career paths can't be described in words. Reach out to friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances who work in fields or industries that you find intriguing. Let them know that you are looking for some  career change options and would appreciate the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Be genuine and respectful in your approach, and don't hesitate to ask if they would be willing to share their insights and advice.

Additionally, utilize online platforms like LinkedIn to expand your network and connect with professionals in your areas of interest. Take the initiative to send a polite and personalized message, expressing your admiration for their work and politely asking if they would be open to a brief conversation or informational interview. Remember to be considerate of their time and be grateful for any insights they share with you.

When you engage in conversations with professionals, don't shy away from asking questions about their job, their day-to-day tasks, and what they enjoy or dislike about their work. This will provide you with valuable firsthand information about different career paths, helping you gain a realistic understanding of what it's like to work in those fields.

In addition to networking, make use of online resources to research and gather information about various industries, job roles, and career options. Explore websites, forums, and professional communities related to your areas of interest. Look for job descriptions, industry trends, and success stories that resonate with your aspirations.

Keep an open mind during this exploration phase. Allow yourself to discover new possibilities and consider unconventional paths that align with your interests. Sometimes, the perfect career for you may not fit into a traditional mold, so be willing to explore unique opportunities that align with your passions and skills.

Throughout this process, remember to express gratitude and appreciation to everyone who takes the time to help you. A simple thank-you note or email goes a long way in maintaining positive connections and building a strong professional network.

By combining your research, insights from conversations, and your own self-reflection, you'll start to narrow down the possibilities and gain clarity about the career paths that truly excite you. So, embrace the power of networking, leverage online resources, and gather as much information as you can to make informed decisions about your future career journey.

4. Form A Short List

From your research, start to put together a short list of career options you are interested in.  Then, find out what additional education or training you will need to step into each new role and determine if the average salary supports your lifestyle.  Choose the one that suits you best.

5. Build A Plan

Once you’ve identified your new chosen vocation, build a plan that will allow you to get the additional training you need and build a timeline, with milestones along the way, as to when you can step out of your current role into your new one.

6. Find A Support System

The process behind a career change isn't a  linear one so you will need support.  Find trusted sources who you can call when you’re having a tough day to pull you out of your funk and set you back on track to your dream job.

7. Celebrate The Small And Big Wins

Make sure you celebrate small accomplishments throughout the process to keep yourself motivated and encouraged.  Congratulate yourself for having the courage to make this change.

8. Give Back

Once you’ve successfully transitioned, look for ways to help others who might be going through a similar journey of a career change.  Use the distant memory of the pain you once felt to help others get to the other side.


It might seem irrational to think that the distance between you and your dream job is only eight steps away but I can tell you from personal experience and from working with others that this is what it boils down to.  As in anything, the devil is in the details.  Find a way to stay the course and if you want the process to be faster and easier, hire a coach.  Even if you end up in a different destination at the end than the one you intended, embrace the ebbs and flows that life throws your way.  Life’s a journey, not a destination- you might be pleasantly surprised what you learn about yourself along the way.  But whatever you decide to do my friend, don’t stay stuck in the pain of a job you hate for too long.

If you liked my insights in this blog and would like me to help you out, you should definitely have a look at the one-on-one services I provide;


About The Author

Leadership Consultant and Coach Amy Sanchez

Amy Sanchez is a certified executive and career coach located in the Bay Area who specializes in helping mid- to senior-level executives achieve their full potential and build the lives they want.

She has an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and 13 years of corporate experience.

She is a skilled coach and neutral partner who provides clients with tangible tools and effective guidance to successfully navigate the waters of this fast-paced, hyper-connected, high-stakes job market.

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