Should I Change My Career? Three Questions to Help You Decide

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

“Should I change my career ?” This is a question I often hear – and I’m glad I do.

There is nothing worse –well almost nothing – than having the wrong career. Let’s face it, by the time you finish going to and coming home from work, working, planning on what to wear at work and thinking about work, how much more time do you really have? Maybe an hour to watch Law and Order.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so make sure you enjoy as much of your day as possible. That’s why you have no excuse. Either find a career you love or change your career. So how do you know which job is right for you?

Simple. Ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Do you absolutely love what you do – or can you find something about what you do that you do love?

I don’t believe anyone is destined to do one thing. I believe we are all multi-talented. I also believe nothing is perfect. No job is perfect. But that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. If you don’t love what you do, is there something about what you do that you do enjoy? I know you want to make more money, but I also know it’s just not enough.

Important To Consider – Obviously finances are a big part of this decision.  If the only reason you want a new career is for the opportunity to make more money, make sure you understand the value of the benefits you receive at work – both for your existing and your new gig.  This might put your pay in a brand new perspective.

Let’s say you are a dental assistant. You might not like sticking your hands inside a saliva-leaking mouth. You might not like being cursed by the patients while they’re waiting to have their gum jackhammered or their pearly whites ripped out. But do you enjoy knowing you are helping people stay healthy? If that overall feeling doesn’t compensate and make you feel absolutely wonderful about getting up every day, you know it’s time to get out.

2. Do you love working with your clients/customers?

Anytime you work with people, it can be challenging. Sure there is always the P.I.A (pain in the arse) factor, but hopefully the people who make your job difficult are a minority.

Do you cross the street when you see clients or customers after work or do you give them your cell number and invite them over for Sunday tea? Do you look forward to seeing your clients on Monday morning? Do you run to answer their calls and consider voicemail a gift from heaven? If you don’t love your clients, do something else.

3. Do you thrive in the structure?

You might love your work and clients but dislike the structure. For example, you might not dig the corporate scene. Or you might not like flying solo. Do you enjoy the way work flows, or does it drive you nuts? If you find the structure of your job torture, get out. Maybe it’s time to become an independent contractor.

Do you see what just happened? You have to love the work, the clients and the structure in order to be successful…and more important…to be happy.

If you’re not happy, you can’t be successful. That goes for employees and people who want to have their own successful business.

Certainly, there may be some things you can change. But there are core realities when it comes to work. Things that can’t be changed. For example, you might love your clients and the structure of working as a dental assistant, but if you can’t stand the sight of bleeding gums, you’ll be miserable if you continue.

This is a pretty simple analysis, but I stand by it. If you answer “no” to any of the questions above, you should investigate a new career.

Are there other considerations? Do you think this is a fair analysis? What have I missed?



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nunzio Bruno May 3, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Great post! I think the best part was the question about structure. Whether you built that structure for yourself or are working somewhere that has a preexisting infrastructure you have to be comfortable with it. Everything else can be going great but if you aren’t comfortable with how the job or practice is being run you’ll lose so much efficiency and there will be so many unnecessary frustrations.


Michelle Quillin May 3, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Great questions! I hope many people read this and take a good look at their lives. Life is too short to spend in a career you don’t get joy from! Scott & I are always advising people who are miserable, but have identifiable gifts and passions, to change careers and to seriously consider working toward being their own bosses.

This is what I shared on our Facebook Page (NewEnglandMultimedia) this morning:

“Do you have a passion for some area of interest that brings you great joy when you’re studying it, talking about it, doing it, sharing it? Do your friends consider you the ‘Go-to’ expert for information about that topic? You can hit the ‘sweet spot’ in life when you’re able to use your God-given passions & gifts for financial provision, while sharing those passions & gifts with others.”

Some people don’t know what their gifts and passions are anymore. How sad!

Michelle Quillin for New England Multimedia & Q Web Consulting


jaiganesh v May 2, 2010 at 6:01 AM

We webmasters are the most confused people about whether we need to switch over from our day job fully or to have our webmastering a past time…


Money Funk April 30, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Its not necessarily that I dislike my job. But I think I am just ready to try something different, more in tune with myself/passions. So therefore I am testing waters and so far… so good. :) One day at a time.


Ken April 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM

I think you’re talking about passion. If someone is in the right career they can’t help but show it…they’re in their groove and highly satisfied. Good points.


Dawn April 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM

I answer “no” to all three – I actually look forward to the company layoff in a few months and really want to change my career. I’ve been doing this job for almost 15 years and I’m burnt out


Financial Samurai April 30, 2010 at 8:04 AM

There was a cross-over point after 4-5 years of working where personal life and work life intersected and I didn’t mind at all, b/c my clients became my friends.

I think that’s the key.. once all your clients are your friends, work becomes pretty fun!


Evan April 30, 2010 at 7:25 AM

I never understood those people who are MISERABLE with their job. I always try to push them to see what is out there! Like you said, life isn’t a dress rehersal.


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