Are your Sunday nights full of dread at the prospect of the working week? A recent report from mental health charity Mind found that 26% of employees are so unhappy they dread going back to work on Mondays.
If this includes you, it might be time to start looking for a new and more suitable career.
Avoid a mid-life career crisis
“When you’re doing a role that’s right for you,” says Nisa Chitakasem, founder of career consultants Position Ignition, “you’re actually much better at it because it comes naturally to you.”
And for those who stay in a job they don’t enjoy? “Work is such an important part of your life that, unless you get it right, you’re heading for the clichéd mid-life crisis,” says Nisa “which could have implications for your mental health”.
A stark warning indeed - and it’s a familiar problem. According to a survey conducted by careerbreaksite.com, a third of those asked said they were unhappy in their current jobs.
Assess your talents
The first step towards change is to think about what it is you really like doing. “Some people have hidden talents they don’t believe they can use for work - whether it’s a sport or singing,” says Nisa. “It’s important to look at your options in a more creative way.”
While it helps to have a goal, balancing your dreams with paying the mortgage is also important. Once you’ve recognised which of your dreams might be unrealistic, it’s time to look at where your talents really lie.
“Some of the happiest, most successful people in the world were those lucky enough to do some kind of personality profile in their youth,” says Chris Minchin, a psychometric profiler with Success Dynamics. “Once you can understand your perceived weaknesses, not only can you make sure you point yourself in the right direction but you can also work on those weaknesses.”
Don't expect a quick fix
Primary school teacher Damian has made two major career changes: first from medical research to the prison service and then again into teaching.
“I originally worked as a research scientist in a London Hospital,” he explains, “One of my roles was to teach pharmacology to the medical students. I enjoyed this aspect of my work but made the decision that I would rather teach younger children at school rather than university students.”
Trying to balance a move to a different city with raising a family meant that Damian had to create a long-term plan to achieve his goals. “I wanted to begin a full-time PGCE but I couldn’t afford to as I had a young family so I joined the prison service as a means of gaining security.”
Family demands were not the only obstacle Damian encountered as he found his loyalty to his colleagues in the prison service also presented a challenge to change. “Working in the volatile and violent area of the prison service, you become very protective over and loyal to the people you work with. I felt guilty about leaving my team. Fortunately, I was thoroughly supported by my friends in my decision.”
Nisa says, “It helps to have a supportive network”. Any other tips for those looking to take the plunge? “Break it down into steps and create an action plan so you can check your progress. It’s really important to be clear and focused and have a strategy.”
Although it took Damian five years to move from one career path to another, his commitment has paid off. “I am extremely happy,” says Damian “I have moved from working in a very negative working environment to one of the most positive environments you could work in. Teaching is hard work and, like any job, not every day is fantastic. However, without wanting to sound corny, it’s an incredible feeling to see a child progress and know that you are a guiding force in that progression.”