What to do when you’re having second thoughts about your career?

An expert helps you navigate this crucial phase of your life.

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In season nine of the ever-loved sitcom Friends, Chandler is transferred to Tulsa, Oklahoma for work. During the holidays, as he returns to see his wife and friends, a 10-second conversation gets him to make the bravest decision of his life. This year, he is required to return to work right before Christmas. In Bing’s defense, it is the paperwork he needs to get out of the way or he’ll get fired. Monica immediately reprimands, “That’s so unfair, you don’t even like your job”. With a slight shrug, Bing replies, “So, who does?”. “I do,” says Phoebe. Ross, Rachel, and Joey follow. “I can’t wait to get back to work,” echoes Rachel’s voice. By the end of the episode, Bing returns home for Christmas with two words as a present: "I quit".  

After second-guessing his career choice for half his life, it was in that moment that he knew he needed to act on them and make a switch. But well, outside of the sit-com world, when the ‘Am I in the right place?’ string hits your last nerve, a whole lot of self-doubt, a few therapy sessions, some breakdowns, increased stress levels, maybe even sleepless nights follow. Sometimes it's overthinking, but sometimes it is a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction that hasn’t shaken off for quite some time now. 

Job dissatisfaction can arise from various factors—being underpaid, working with an unsupportive team, unhealthy work environment, and moral conflicts are a few to name. Sophia Peermohideen, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist believes that if one continues to be in this space for a longer period, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. 

First things first, you need to identify if it is your workplace that is manipulating you to have second thoughts about your career or if is it your profession that you’re conflicting with. Once that is established you can move on dealing with the problem further. 

Below are a few steps recommended by Peermohideen who navigates you through how one can deal with second thoughts on your career: 

The psychotherapist recommends defining the problem or issue, analysing it, and identifying the cause. Ask these questions: What do you not like about your job? Once you have the answer, try figuring if you do can anything about it. For example: If your boss is making your life miserable, you can apply to different companies and exit your current workplace. However, if it's more than that, then it may be time to pull out a pro-con list, followed by detailed planning. 

Brainstorm different approaches

Evaluate the decision from all aspects. Think about the long-term and short-term effects that changing your career might have on you (and if you can afford do to it at that point in your life). To dive deeper into it, Peermohideen suggests techniques such as SWOT analysis, mind mapping, matrix, and flow charts.

Evaluate the pros and cons 

Once you have the basis of the problem laid out, you can move on to making a concrete decision. Peermohideen (and the writer) believes there is nothing better than a pro-con list that can help you make a rational and well-informed decision. It will give you a clearer idea of what you’re entilted more to. 

Make a well-informed decision 

By this stage, you should have a clear picture of what you’re signing up for. Here’s where you can speak to your trusted ones (mentors, parents, friends) to make a final decision. However, once you make a final decision, Peermohideen suggests, you track your set objectives and progress from time to time. 

Monitor your progress 

Monitoring your progress might be more important than you think. It will help you understand the strides you've made since the gutsy decision. It will also assist you in analysing your areas of weakness and strengths, allowing you to further work on them.