To say that these are uncertain times is a giant understatement. Given all the uncertainty, many professionals are wondering if they should jump ship or stay put and wait out the storm. If you’ve been laid off, should you make a big career change or try to re-enter your prior field?

Read on to learn about five distinct signs that can indicate you’re ready for a big career change.

Sign #1: You’ve been thinking about it a while

You’ve had a vision for this career change for a long time. I’m not talking weeks, I’m talkin’ like months or even years. Your sister, brother, husband, wife, hair stylist, mechanic, and even your cat has heard about your career dreams.

They’ve all encouraged you and listened to your hopes and plans.

Even amidst the pandemic, this vision for the next phase of your career has remained strong.

Your career dream might even date back as far as childhood. Maybe it’s a dream that you’ve mostly kept hidden. But it’s always been there.

Sign #2: It makes sense

Now I’m not sayin’ that if you’re terrible with numbers and navigation you can’t become an airline pilot. But it might present to be somewhat of a challenge. Just like if you absolutely hate public speaking, the teaching profession will likely not be the best fit.

Okay obviously I’m exaggerating here. But doing a little digging along with some soul searching can go a heck of a long way when it comes to making a big career change.

I’ve had plenty of clients in my office telling me they want to become a fashion magazine editor or a doctor.  My next question is, have you done any research? The fashion industry excites you, but have you talked to fashion magazine editors? If you want to be a doctor, would I see any volunteer or other related work experience in a medical setting or hospital on your resume?

But you’ve done your due diligence. You’ve assessed your greatest strengths, passions, interests, values, priorities, and personality traits. And for the most part, they’re in line with your new career goal. This dream career you’ve been imagining and cultivating is pretty congruent with who you are.

Looking back on past jobs, you have thought carefully about what you liked and did not like. You might have even made a list of all the job functions you couldn’t stand, along with those you tolerated, as well as the tasks you loved.

Sign #3: You’ve got a plan

If you want to change careers from teaching to law, you will need to get a law degree and pass the Bar exam. There’s really no way around that. There is roughly three years of law school involved, as well as the expense of attending said law school. You have thought about each step you have to take to achieve your career goal, and you are willing and capable of doing it.

Starting a business might be your goal. Rather than jumping in head first without a plan, you’ve taken an introductory course on how to start a business and / or read at least one book about starting a _____ type of business. Your business plan is typed up and ready to be implemented.

Hard conversations with either yourself or your spouse / partner have become easier. You have flushed out your anticipated expenses for the first year of starting your business, and you’ve got a timeline for when you need to start making a profit.

Making a leap from one field to another might require you to take a pay cut, but you’re willing to work your way up and prove yourself. The sacrifices will be worth it.

Sign #4: You’ve blocked out the noise

I have been a career coach for nearly 20 years. One thing I’ve learned is that for most people the one thing that stands in the way of their career success is themselves.

This self-sabotage is what I call “career success blockers.” These include statements like: I’m not good enough. I’m too old for a career change. I’ll never get the job! Everyone else is more successful than me. I’ll make a fool of myself. So and so told me it’s impossible! I’m terrified of failure. What if I make a mistake?

If you have patience, persistence, and most importantly, a positive attitude, you will eventually reach your goals!

Sign #5: You’re prepared to invest in yourself

Changing careers takes time and effort. Even if you hire a career coach. Ultimately the work and decision-making is up to you. The more time you’re willing to spend in the process of making a successful career change, the more successful you will ultimately be.

Whichever path you choose, you will likely also need to invest some money in continuing education. Does your new career path require another degree or certification? If your budget is tight, there are ways to change careers on a budget. YouTube offers thousands of free tutorials in virtually every subject.

If your career goal requires more advanced training, there are many reputable online education options. Local community colleges offer low-cost, high quality certification and training programs online. Online learning platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning are other low-cost, flexible ways to develop skills and expertise.

In Conclusion

Are you ready for a career change? If most or all of the signs listed above point to yes, then chances are you are ready to take the plunge!

If you still feel stuck or frustrated, dig deeper.

What else can be standing in your way? Rather than focusing externally, look inward. Are you truly motivated and ready for a major career change?

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to make a career change. You need to find a pace and plan that work for you!