There is a big difference between changing jobs and changing careers. The former can mean staying in your current career, but changing where you do it. The latter is more dramatic - and requires that more thought be put into the decision. Before you make a drastic change, look for signs that may point to a new career.
"You know it's time to change careers if you're never felt like you're being yourself in the career you have now," says Andrea Kay, a career consultant in Cincinnati. "Or if you've lost complete enthusiasm for your work and your heart's just not in it. Maybe you've become disenchanted with the field and hate the thought of doing this work any longer."
A big life change can also signal the need for a career change.
"I made my change due to life circumstances," says Karen Steede-Terry, author of "Full-Time Woman, Part-Time Career" (CMS Press, $19.95). "I was burned out on one job, got married, quit and moved to a smaller metropolitan area that offered less opportunity in my field, so I went out on my own. For the past ten years I have been self-employed as an independent consultant in a high-tech field."
Or perhaps you're just ready for a new challenge in life.
"Maybe you're at a point in life where you're retiring from a company and either need or want to still work," says Kay. "You've decided this time around you'll do something you really enjoy or have always dreamed about. This can be a reason to change careers."
Susan Rivers decided the time was right for her to change careers when she realized she had more to give as an employee.
"I left a position as an editor at a major international business newspaper and moved into communications," says Rivers, now vice president of public affairs for Roger Williams University in Bristol, Conn. "I was bored with my position, and I didn't see any openings ahead in my own organization that would allow me to exercise all my skills."
The lack of a positive future with the company was a major factor for Rivers.
"I had a wonderful boss and could see she was a hardworking and talented member of the team, but I also didn't want her job or one like it," she says.
If you do in fact decide that a career change is in the cards, decide whether it's a phase or the real thing.
"It's imperative to flesh this out," says Kay. "Sometimes it's the company you work for, your boss or another issue that's making you so unhappy. Other times it really is time for a career change."