January is often when people look for a new job—as many as two in five people are actively job hunting in the first month of the year. For some, this might be a sideways shift into a similar role; others might consider a radical career change.
If you have been working in a similar role for years, you may wonder if you could ever step out and do something completely different. Some people do, and not only in January. Take Andrea Bocelli, the popular Italian tenor and singer-songwriter, who made the jump from being a lawyer to his musical career. Justin Welby left his executive position in the oil industry to become a vicar, and eventually the Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Brian Cox, the popular physicist who presents science on English television, was a rock star, with a number 1 hit in the 1990s. Harrison Ford, the Hollywood actor, used to be a carpenter and cabinet-maker.
Such stand-out changes might not be within the realm of our own possibilities, but the New Year is as good a time as any to examine how satisfied we are with what we’re doing, and how confident we feel about the direction we are heading. Waking up on a Monday morning dreading the beginning of the working week, or feeling like our talents are not being used, or that our pay package doesn’t reflect the value we bring, may be signs it’s time to think about other options.
The Bible acknowledges the necessity of working for a living: “People go off to their work, where they labor until evening.”1 Being satisfied in our work is also mentioned: “You will definitely enjoy what you’ve worked hard for—you’ll be happy; and things will go well for you.”2 “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives,”3 The apostle Paul evidently felt fulfilled in his role: “That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.”4 If this isn’t how you feel, then it could be time to consider looking for a better situation, or at least, for improvements where you are.
Life-changing decisions shouldn’t be made in a hurry, of course, and you might like to consider the following:
- List five features of your ideal job that are most important to you, such as your fulfillment and goals, the ethics of your employer, the size of your salary, the supplementary benefits (pension, gym membership, etc.), the workplace environment and camaraderie, the hours and workload, your role and level of responsibility, the use that’s made of your unique talents, the opportunities for training and career progression, and so on.
- Now score your present job on those features. If it doesn’t match at least half of what is most important to you, chances are you are not in the best place and it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
- Think about what you really want to do. Read up about the role. Does it fit your skills and experience, training and qualifications? If not, is it something you can learn on the go, or is there another route into that type of job? Do some research.
- Get advice from other people. According to Proverbs, “The more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.”5 Try to get some advice from those already in the field where you’d like to be working. Talk to your friends and family, and perhaps a career advisor.
- Go after your dreams, but be realistic. The vast majority of us have jobs because we need them in order to pay the bills. So if your dream career isn’t quite within striking distance and you need to stick with your regular job, consider a voluntary role in the sector where you are interested. If it’s something you really are passionate about, you’ll probably be able to fit in a few evenings or a day over the weekend. An accountant won’t become a social worker overnight, but he could help out at a youth club.
- Seek God’s guidance. “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”6 You may find Him speaking to you through your quiet time, devotional, or Bible reading, or you may want to specifically ask Him: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.”7 Whatever the case, try to include Him in the picture of your plans, remembering that “God’s blessing makes life rich,”8 not only materially, but also in terms of peace of mind.
January is just one month. Your own season for change might not come at this particular time of the year, yet whenever it comes, God will be at hand to help, shining His light on your path.9