Considering a Career Change?

Are you thinking about a career change? Many people do this because of specific problems or difficulties. Others want to make such a change because of some growing, generalized dissatisfaction. A career change is becoming more common. A few decades ago this kind of change was considered inappropriate. People were thought to be "job-hoppers" when they moved from job to job. People with this behavior were thought to be unstable and without loyalty. But now, changing your job or changing your career is generally considered to be a normal way to advance in work.

There are some interesting reasons that people are motivated to make this kind of change: one is that the person's situation changes and a job or career change is required. For instance, maybe the spouse moves away, and the person must move with the family. Or, maybe the company goes out of business. It could be that the person's physical or mental capabilities change and they cannot perform that job or career.

A common motivation is that the person was never happy with the job or career and the situation never improved. So, over time the person has grown a dissatisfaction with the situation. At some point this dissatisfaction grows so large and so deep, the person must change.

Another common reason for a career change is that something changed in the environment of that job or career. A specific co-worker is no longer at that job, so the person chooses to make the change. Or, the regulations or the technology of the career changes, and the person does not want to continue.

But the most common reason people make a career change is their personal "clock."

Some people have a very 'long clock.' These people are available for a career change every 15 to 25 years. They tend to maintain their job or career for their whole life. Retired postal or railroad workers and retired teachers are excellent examples of the ultra-stable employees.

Some people have a clock of 5 to 7 years. This is the 'normal clock' for the USA, about 60% of workers in the USA have this clock. People with this clock are comfortable at their job or task until their clock lapses (5 to 7 years). At this point they start to look for another job, even if they like the job they have. If they do not get the change they need, they start to be depressed. The more time that passes before they get the change they need, the deeper the depression. If the depression gets too deep, the only relief can come from changing careers.

Another group has a clock of 1 to 3 years. This is considered to be a 'short clock,' and represents about 30% of the USA population. Within this group there are individuals who have a 1 year clock, others with a 2 year clock, and even others who have a 3 year clock. They have the same characteristics as those with the 'normal clock.' When their clock lapses, they need to change jobs and if they do not get the change they need, they get depressed.

When we change jobs or change career, we feel refreshed and our clock gets reset to zero. If you have needed a change because of your clock, you probably have been depressed. Making the change refreshes the clock and makes the depression go away.

If you have been working enough years, you can look back at your work history and you can see your pattern of changing jobs and/or changing career. Those with a short clock rarely plan for retirement. A person with a short clock might have a wealth of work experience, but have little to carry them when they retire.

If you do not know your clock, you will probably change jobs (and even change careers) because of your clock. If you know your clock, there are things you can do to make the best use of your clock and provide yourself with more stability in your work life. When you make a minor change before your clock lapses, you can refresh your clock (set it to zero). Understanding how and when to refresh your clock can improve your job and career stability.

With more information about your own patterns, you can improve your job and career choices. You can choose jobs and careers which match your patterns. You can choose when you change your path. When you understand your patterns, you can manage your future with more certainty.

Rodger Bailey, MS, has been helping people understand their career patterns since 1980. You can learn more about people's patterns and their profiles at his website:

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