7 sure-fire signs it’s time to change careers

Jan 4, 2024

Picture this…

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are in your career. You’re talented and successful at what you do. Your work is financially rewarding and you love your clients.

Then one day you wake up and something’s shifted. You’re not passionate about your work anymore. You feel disconnected, unhappy and you’re unsure what’s missing.

So, if this is you, WHAT do you do?

Having coached many professionals through their career changes and navigated two successful career transitions, I’ve identified some common signs that indicate it’s time for a change.

Read on to learn the 7 sure-fire signs it’s time to change careers. You’ll clarify if making a move is right for you and what you should do next.


I’m sure you’ve experienced those Sunday night blues. When the weekend’s nearly over — and you’re not quite ready to go back to work on Monday.

But what happens when those Sunday blues become feelings of dread?

You struggle to find the energy to get up and go to work each morning. You’re bored or unhappy at work most of the time. The work no longer challenges or energises you.

You’re dreading Monday and living for the weekend.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. According to a 2023 report by Gallup, 77% of people are currently dissatisfied at work.

This is the first unquestionable sign it’s time to make a change in your career — and it’s important not to ignore it. Because when you start addressing what’s missing or making you miserable, you will find fulfillment in your work again!


If you’re feeling drained and low on energy, ask yourself: When was the last time you had a break? If it’s been a while since you had a work free weekend or took any time off, it’s possible you’re burnt out.

Prior to my career change, I lacked the desire and energy to go to work each day. I battled these feelings for many months before finally addressing them. Knowing I was burnt-out, my first step was to take some extended time off.

6 weeks later, I was back at work feeling refreshed and energised after an extra-long summer break — but those old feelings of dread immediately resurfaced. And I realised… I was uninspired and no longer challenged by my work.

If you’re feeling exhausted, take some time off — THEN examine your energy levels. When you return to work after a decent break and still feel depleted, you will know you’re ready to move on.


In his book, ‘The Big Leap’, Gay Hendricks talks about operating from your ‘zone of genius’, rather than your ‘zone of excellence’.

Your zone of excellence refers to the things you’re good at, which you don’t enjoy doing. As an example, I’ve got a knack for creating sales budgets and business plans. Yet I dislike numbers, heavy administration and burying my head in spreadsheets all day!

Being exceptionally talented at your job doesn’t mean you have to love it.

In my previous recruitment career, I discovered I was great at sales. I achieved top financial results over consecutive years and took this experience to start a successful consultancy.

But 10 years in, I realised — I didn’t LOVE the work. And this is because I was operating in my zone of excellence.

In contrast, your zone of genius is the work you’re good at and love to do. It’s often referred to your ‘flow state’.

Communication and connecting with people are what I really loved about this role. They’re also my natural strengths and within my zone of genius. I now satisfy both aspects through work I’m truly passionate about: coaching, speaking, training and writing.

A quick side note here on passions. This isn’t to say you have to love every element of your work, ALL the time — or turn every passion into your career. That’s unrealistic.

There will always be aspects of your job which you don’t enjoy — and some passions are better off as hobbies.

However, if you’re not loving your work MOST of the time, it’s a big sign it’s time to make a change. Even if you’ve been in your profession for years or you’re the best at what you do.

When you identify the aspects of your job you DO enjoy and move in this direction, you will find the work which lights you up!


Have you ever looked at someone else’s job and thought — I’m jealous! I wish I could do that!

You may be interested in aspects of the work they do — such as their industry, brand or the type of clients they work with. Perhaps you see someone working in a certain way – part-time or flexible hours, for themselves, from any location in the world – and you dream of doing the same.

Career envy or curiosity about another person’s work means you’re starting to dream bigger.

Growing up watching my father run a successful company, I always knew I wanted to start my own business. When I found out career coaching existed, I was immediately drawn to this work. And each time I saw a peer start a podcast, my heart was screaming out to do the same!

When you start dreaming of something bigger, it’s a sure sign you’re ready to make a change in your career.


Over the past 15+ years of helping high-performers advance their careers, many have shared a version of this with me:

“I look at my boss and KNOW I don’t want their job one day. I have to make another plan”.

For example, I’ve worked with lots of lawyers who’ve had successful careers in leading law firms. They’ve had a clear career path laid out in front of them and have been promoted to Senior Associate or Special Counsel level. But then they look at their boss and realise, they don’t want to be a partner in a big law firm — or even partnership at all.

Plenty transition out of private practice into an in-house legal role. Others start their own practices. Some change careers completely.

Even with this realisation, it’s natural to feel anxious about throwing away the time, money and energy invested into your current career or company. After all, there’s a lot of uncertainty and risk attached.

But if you decide the path you were on is no longer right for you, don’t deny your feelings. Embrace them. Because when you acknowledge it’s time to make a change, you can start planning ahead to minimise fear and risk with your move.


Here’s an interesting idea from online entrepreneur, Marie Forleo, which gave me a lot of clarity as I contemplated a career change…

It goes like this: Imagine a law was passed and you can no longer operate in your current profession. Your job no longer exists and you need to find a new career. What do you do?

Your immediate response is very telling. This scenario removes all logic, people and circumstances involved. You’re being asked to tap into your body’s natural wisdom — your intuition.

What, intuitively is your immediate response? Do you feel angry, fired up and ready to fight to do the work that you care about?

Or do you feel lighter, more expansive, even relieved – like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders? Are you excited about the opportunity to move on and try something new? Is changing careers a clear YES for you?

When you can hear that voice telling you it’s time to move on, you will know it’s time to change careers.


If you’ve attempted to address what’s making you unhappy at work and nothing’s changed, it’s possible you’ve lost the passion for what you do.

You’ve lost interest in your work. You’re counting down the hours until you go home. You may no longer even care about your job.

These are all final, definitive signs your heart is no longer in it. When you reach this point, accept it’s time to move on. You’re ready for a career change.

It can be challenging to recognise when it’s time to change careers. It’s normal to go months — even years — without noticing or addressing the fact you’re ready for a change.

Take the opportunity right now to reflect on your own career. You may not even need to make a complete career change — it could be a job move within your existing profession. If this is you, read this article for more information on what to do next.

However, if you do decide it’s time to change careers, use this information to guide your next steps. These insights have given my clients and I clarity on when it’s time to move on and what to do next. I hope they help you too!

Want further support to find clarity on your next career step?

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Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified career coach, speaker and facilitator. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.