Are you feeling unsure on whether to change your job or your career? Use this guide to help you

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Woman upset over work.
Woman upset over work.
Cecilie_Arcurs/ Getty images

Does going to work feel like a drag, when you used to be enthusiastic about it?

Maybe you’re so demotivated that even your salary isn’t enough to get you out of bed in the morning. That’s because we aren’t motivated to work purely for money, says career coach Khanya Matlala from Midrand.

“Some of us choose to work because we have a deeper set of goals – to have an opportunity to do what we do best every day,” Matlala says.

When our job no longer offers us this opportunity, we start to rethink our options – perhaps we need a different position or a change of career.

Both prospects bring exciting possibilities and challenges. So how do you figure out what’s the right move and the right set of challenges for you going forward?

First, you need to get to the root of the problem.

“Knowing what you don’t want can lead you to what you do want. Make a list of the pros and cons of changing jobs and do the same for changing careers,” Matlala suggests.

Next, use these steps and questions from UK-based life coach and speaker Kate Marshall to help you figure out whether it’s your job or your profession that’s getting you down.  


 What’s the source of your stress?   Make a list of all the things in your current job or line of work that cause stress. How many of them are:  

  • Tasks and responsibilities related to your industry (like night shifts, going  to events or travelling)?   
  • Your present job (like a nasty boss, unfriendly colleagues or stressful daily travelling to and from work)?  
  • Your personal coping style (your time-management skills, ability to work in a team or how well you handle disagreements in work relationships)?

  Next, work out if you are proud of   the fruits of your labour:

  • Do you know what your company’s goals are?  
  • Do you know how you help achieve these goals?  
  • Do you believe in these goals?       
  • Do you support the goals and standards of your profession or do they leave you feeling at a loss? Make a list of all the accomplishments you are proud of. What are your accomplishments telling you about what you’d like to experience more in your work life?  


Now you have some sense of why you’re demotivated, it’s time to figure out what you’re passionate about. When answering these two questions, give yourself permission to  dream big. Ask yourself what is it you want to be known for. And imagine a time you might look back at the actions, choices and decisions you made in your working life.

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  •  How would you like to be remembered? 
  • What work would you like to be  known for? 

 Now, imagine if you could go back  in time

 Picture yourself at the age of 16. What career options did you really want back then that you might have been talked out of by well-meaning family or friends? Now, imagine that with the wave of   a wand you could have any job in the world. What would you do? 

 Who do you look up to?  

From family members to celebrities, the people you look up to can tell  you a lot about what you value in life.Take a moment to consider who you admire and why. If you believe those qualities are worth striving for, consider this: 

  • Can you express these values in your present position?  
  • What is the future scope for expressing them in your current line of work?  
  • Can you talk to your boss about finding ways to bring what you value to life?
  • Do other companies in your industry have positions where you can express your values?
  • Can you imagine an alternative career that will let you live out those values?  


If you’ve worked through these  questions and find yourself looking at positions higher than yours and thinking, “That’s where I want to be”,  you’re likely in need of a change of   job, Matlala says. 

Before you jump ship:  

  •  Find out whether there are company opportunities for training and development.  
  • Discuss your concerns with your line manager or the human resources department.

  And keep these tips in mind when looking for a new job:  

  •  Be discrete about job searching.  
  •  Don’t quit before getting another formal offer of employment. 


 If after having thought about all of  Marshall’s questions in steps 1 and 2, you’ve looked at every position you   might fill in your industry as a whole   and can’t imagine feeling fulfilled, you might be after a career change.“A career change doesn’t have to be a difficult move and shouldn’t always require studying a new degree. You might just have to look at the right   industry fit for you,” Matlala reassures.  

Think of these examples:  

  •  Nurses who have become personal midwives and parenting coaches for first-time parents.  
  • Journalists who become ghostwriters for celebrities. 
  • Personal assistants who have built their own events management or professional organiser businesses. 

 And, keep these tips in mind before changing your career:  

  • Get some outside perspective – it   helps to look at your career through a different lens, so find a mentor or   coach.  

Changing a career takes time. Set yourself short-, medium- and longterm  plans with specific, realistic and measurable goals. Also, consider that even the right   change at the wrong time can be a bad career move. If a big change isn’t the right move for now, consider what small thing you can do every day that will motivate   and inspire you to stay or keep looking for something new, Marshall   advises.   

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