Is It Time for a New Career or a New Job?

It can be tempting to jump into a new career like coaching if you’re not feeling satisfied, fulfilled or challenged in your current job. Before you make the leap to a new profession, figure out if what you need is a new job or a new career. The two exercises below can help you figure this out.

Even if you’re already a coach, self-employed or enjoy your job, the exercises below can reveal valuable insights about your current work tasks and work environment.

1. Dissect Your Typical Work Week

Write down the main activities you perform at work during a typical week. Give each a rating of 1-10, with 10 indicating that you truly enjoy this task. Also make a note about your energy before, during and after each activity. For example, do you feel dread when you know you need to prepare the statistical report? Are you energized after leading a team meeting? In addition, record or estimate how much time you spend on each activity.

If you can jot down each activity as you do it, it’ll be easier to remember how you felt. If this isn’t possible during work hours, make notes at lunch or when you get home from work.

At the end of the week look at your notes and estimate how much time you spent at work each day on activities rated 8 or higher.

2. Your Work Environment and Industry

Even if you love your daily activities, the work environment and industry you’re in can affect how much you enjoy your work.

What do you like and dislike about your work environment and industry? Here are some items to consider when answering this question:
– your physical work space
– the overall office space
– your co-workers
– your boss
– the ‘feel’ or mood of the office
– your industry
– annual industry conventions
– the perception of the industry by your friends, families or society in general

What Does This All Mean?

Here are some possibilities to try on and see if they’re true for you. If so, explore the solution further. If not, let it go and try something else on.

1. Do Not Enjoy Work and Do Not Enjoy Work Environment
If you don’t enjoy your work or your work environment, it may be time to look at a new career.

2. Not Enjoy Work But Enjoy Work Environment
If you don’t enjoy your work but do enjoy your work environment, can you work out a plan with your current boss that would allow you to do more of the activities you enjoy and less of the other ones? Maybe you would enjoy your work if you were doing more of your ‘8+’ activities. If not, are there other positions in your company that you could apply for? Ideally these positions would allow you to spend a majority of time on the activities you rated 8 or above in exercise 1. If neither of these are options, then ask yourself: what position/career would allow me to spend more of my time doing the 8+ activities?

3. Enjoy Work But Not Work Environment
If you enjoy your work yet dislike your work environment, it may be time to look for a similar job in a different company or maybe a different industry. The latter would depend on how you answered the industry questions in question 2. If you just dislike your boss yet like everything else about your work environment, consider looking for another job in your company.

Also reflect to see if your attitude or beliefs about your boss or industry is contributing to your lack of enjoyment. If, for example, you have decided that your boss is hyper-critical of you, you may not even recognize the moments your boss praises you. What if you instead praised your boss and smiled? Sometimes a shift in attitude can turn things around. Asking for what you need may also help.

4. Enjoy Both Work and Work Environment Yet….
If you discover that you really do enjoy your work and work environment yet still feel like something is missing, is a move to a new industry the missing link? It may be time to do some introspective work and ask yourself the deeper questions. Am I expressing my life purpose through my work? If not, how could I be? Am I fulfilled? If not, how can I experience fulfillment? Are my values being expressed through my work? If not, how could they be?

Given that we spend approximately one third of our day at work, it makes sense to do work we enjoy and work in an environment and industry we enjoy.

Resources For You

1. Forms for Exercises
If you would like a form I created to record your answers to the above exercises, please email me at The form isn’t finalized yet so I’d appreciate any feedback you have once you’ve used it. Do you need more space to write? Two pages of activities versus one? Have I missed anything? etc.

2. Want to Know More About This Topic?
Have you read the transcript of an interview I did with Barb Richards on “Career Transition” yet? Just
subscribe to the Becoming a Coach newsletter (top box on right). In the interview we covered: 1) How to Know if it’s Time for a New Job or a New Career; 2) 5 Mistakes People Make During Career Transition; and 3) 3 Tips for Transitioning to Self-Employment.

Part 2 in this series: Discovering Your Unique Talents

One thought on “Is It Time for a New Career or a New Job?

  1. Chris

    This is just real nice of you whoever took the time to put this together for people, and give it away. I can only speak for myself but if we were all a little less selfish it wouldn’t hurt but then I guess thats the same as saying a little more love rite? Thanks all of you!

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