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Hey, colleague: How do you know when to cut it and run?

Send questions about careers, productivity and work-life balance to [email protected] . Please include your name and location, or request to remain anonymous. Hey, Colleague: Lately, I've felt like my career has plateaued.
Your needs, interests and hobbies are going to change as you grow. The same applies to your career path.

Send questions about careers, productivity and work-life balance to [email protected]. Please include your name and location, or request to remain anonymous.

Hey, Colleague:

Lately, I've felt like my career has plateaued. Don't get me wrong, my company is fantastic, my boss and colleagues are like a second family to me, and the salary and benefits match what I would expect from a similar position elsewhere. Still, I can't shake this feeling that I'm phoning it in. The passion isn't there anymore, and I'm working for the paycheck. Should I consider pivoting entirely for a new career with a new company or in a completely different industry? Or, do I play it safe, stay and hope things change?


Let me tell you this: it's NEVER too late to chase your dreams.

left a stable career in tech when I was 28 because I was in the same position as you.

Don't get me wrong, I was grateful and loved my job, but I always had an adventurous mindset, and sitting in an office wasn't for me.

Don't get me wrong; it was the most fulfilling experience to go through multiple project launch cycles and the world for prestigious brands where I gained a plethora of experience. However, I also felt that others deserved my role in the company, giving me peace of mind.

Once I left that job, I discovered a whole new world of abundance—and that there is so much more than what we see in front of us. Do you hear stories of people getting laid off only to find their dream jobs or start their businesses? This happens because you are out of your comfort zone, and nothing worthwhile grows in your comfort zone.

I learned, "there is something for everyone." I realized I am simply a lover of learning and experiences, and personally, time freedom is more important than a paycheque. Of course, we all need income to live on; however, if you think of your energy as currency, what you put your attention towards, you will get results if you work hard and stay consistent. The 9-5 is great for those who need structure, but it isn't for everyone. If you know what you want, and you want it, you will find a way to make it work.

You can be a computer programmer in your 20s. A therapist in your 40s. A neuroscientist in your 50s. 

It's essential to keep your brain sharp and "roll with life." Not only will it benefit your happiness but those around you because if you continue chasing your dreams, you will live a very fulfilling life. The quote goes: if you love life, it will love you right back.

I'm not going to lie. It's not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Be realistic

Write these down in a journal:

  • Do I have enough money saved?
  • How much money do I truly need to live?
  • Do I have a support system?
  • Do I have a backup plan if things don't work out?
  • What are my true intentions for changing careers? Knowing your objective will help you stay motivated. (i.e. "I want to be able to work from home so I can spend more time with my kids because they are going up too fast. I don't want to have to keep on missing out on their important life events because I am constantly stressed out and tired from my current day job.”)

Write this down and stick this somewhere visible to remind you daily.

Break it down: start small

Of course, not everyone may be in the right circumstances to have the privilege of time and finances to pursue their passions, and if not, you can always start small. For example, if you already have a full-time job and have children, you can begin to learn a new skill a few hours per week because it's better than nothing.

Let's say you dedicate five hours a week (or an hour per day) to learning a new skill– that's 260 hours per year. It may not seem like much, but it's better than zero. If you didn't start, you will look back a year later and wish you did! 

Goals are more achievable if you break them down into smaller bite-sized daily or weekly goals. Many people don't even start because they may have a dream but feel it's too overwhelming to get there. It's a mindset shift. The secret is to perform these bite-sized goals consistently to rewire your brain. Just like "brushing your teeth," you can make "studying for an hour per day" or "reading 10 pages every night before I go to bed" an automated task that will eventually require less "brainpower." There is a lot of neuroscience related to the formation of habits, but this is a simplified version.

And realistically, once you pick up momentum, you will probably achieve a lot more. Once your brain realizes you are genuinely driving towards something you are truly passionate about, it will create less resistance.

Let's break it down even more:

  1. Have a goal. Let your family and friends know so you can create a support system.
  2. Set an intention. 
  3. Break it down into bite-sized goals that you can realistically perform daily or weekly.
  4. Track your progress. Extra points if you do it visually. For example, a calendar you can check on your fridge– your brain will 'see' it and feel satisfied that it's made progress, motivating you to do more the next day. Seeing is truly believing.
  5. Stay consistent. If you are particularly overwhelmed, aim for 10-20 minutes (depending on the task), or take the day off. The purpose is to achieve whatever you can to create more activity in that area of your brain— but you must also find the balance to be kind to yourself. Don't worry; this will get easier over time.
  6. Reward yourself in milestones (i.e. monthly) and a bigger reward once you have reached your final goal.

Ways to help you change careers

Learn new skills by taking online classes

These days, anything can be done at your fingertips. Most universities and colleges offer online programs in just about any subject. Online platforms such as Udemy and Coursera have affordable courses on just about any topic. Depending on the industry you want to get into, it may or may not require a university degree as many jobs require more hands-on experience (i.e. trades and art).

Join like-minded communities

It's essential to have a support system to keep you motivated. You can find online communities for just about anything on Facebook, Quora. Connect with people on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Use evidence-based tactics to help you learn and focus better

If your goal is to learn, go a little deeper: you need your brain to function optimally. Just like reframing habit-formation as rewiring your brain, you can learn new ways to maximize your focus and productivity. Listen to podcasts, read articles, and follow neuroscientists on Twitter and Instagram. Remember, your time is precious, and you should always curate content, so it benefits you.

Think outside of the box

If you are willing to take the risk, there are many unconventional jobs out there. Think about it; there are 7+ billion people in the world, and from my own experience, there are lifestyles and needs that you may have never heard of! The best way to make money is to niche down, so you will be sure to have zealous clients if you can find a noteworthy niche. Think about how much money people spend on video games, NFTs, or specialty food items. Remember: "there is something for everybody."


If paychecks aren't the primary goal, you can work in industries that will allow you to network with successful people who can become your clients in the future—for example, airline attendants, private yacht crew workers, jewelry stores, etc.

Know there is more to life

When I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to work in technology because it would provide a comfortable salary and back then, that was what we were taught. After working in that industry for over a decade, I finally ventured out and never knew that I could make lucrative side hustles out of my earliest passion, writing and food. But because I took the risk and explored it, I'm doing things I genuinely love, which nurtures my creativity, and induces flow state and fulfillment. Of course, I don't regret my career path because I may not enjoy what I currently do if I started this in my early 20s. Your needs, interests and hobbies are going to change as you grow.

Some unconventional career ideas to create a spark:

  • Artist Model
  • Art Therapist
  • Bounty Hunters
  • Caricaturist
  • Doula
  • Food Scientist
  • Ethical Hacker
  • Golf-ball Divers
  • Music Therapist
  • Life Coaching
  • Online Educator
  • Professional Bridesmaid
  • Tree Planters

Here are more ideas for high demand careers that can generate a high income:

  • Copy Writers
  • Cyber Security
  • Digital Marketers
  • Digital Designers
  • Database Administrators
  • Data Scientists
  • Ecommerce Entrepreneurs
  • General Contractors
  • Lead Generation
  • Marketing Managers
  • Nursing
  • Product Managers
  • Software Developers
  • Technical Writers

Kate Pn writes about mastering a healthy work-life balance by focusing on productivity hacking. Write to her at [email protected].