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How to tell if it's time for a career change

December 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
If you're considering a career change, you're far from alone. On average, people hold about 14 jobs by the time they turn 40. So how do you know when it's time to move on? There are five questions you need to ask yourself before you say, "bye-bye" to your boss. Do you feel like your professional life is on the fast track, or is your career going by in slow motion? If you think it may be time for a change, take this career quiz.

"The one I started laughing at is, 'My life feels out of balance, with much more effort going toward work,'" said a woman who is thinking about a career change.

If that sounds familiar to you, it's a signal you may be ready to move on. CareerWomen.com found the top five reasons women change careers: Family obligations, expanding opportunities, higher pay, relocation and job burnout.

"It's kind of dull after a while. I'm just going through the motions," said one woman.

If you're not in sync with your supervisor, or not collaborating with your colleagues, you may no longer be effective at what you do.

"If I could no longer perform my job well or no longer serve people then I would lose motivation to keep this job," said another woman.

Marlyn Kalitan is a veteran career management consultant.

"I think if you take a look at your accomplishments, the things that make you proud about what you did, and if you have to go back more than three years to think about an accomplishment, it's time for you to think about your next step," said Kalitan.

Also, listen to family and friends.

"They don't realize how much it effects everyone around them when they're not happy in their job," explained Kalitan.

But don't confuse a stressful job with a bad job. CareerBuilder.com just released a list of stressful jobs that are worth it. EMTs deal with stress every day, but they save lives. Flight attendants are confined to a small space, but get to see the world. No matter which career you choose, a career change doesn't mean that your first choice was a bad one. Every job should be considered an experience and a stepping stone to something else.

A career change can be an overwhelming life decision, which is why experts recommend finding a mentor who works in the field you're pursuing. A mentor can help you in difficult times and may also help with finding contacts and job leads.