Whether it's back-to-work blues or itchy feet, this is the most common time to consider a job change. Kirsty Johnston talks to a career adviser about throwing in the towel.

New Year, new career?

It's a popular thought, experts say, as workers return after having time to reflect over the summer break.

The New Year is also when new opportunities arise - courses start, ideas are generated and businesses want to progress strategies, meaning increased vacancies on job sites.

For some, the blues will eventually lift, or the itch will fade as the regular rhythm of life sets in again. Others may find a new challenge in their current role is enough to fill a gap.


But for many, thoughts of a change will be pushed aside because it's too hard or too scary - what Careers NZ advisor Pat Cody says is the "noise inside their heads."

Nagging self doubts, emotions and fears are one of the main reasons people get stuck in jobs they no longer want, he says, but they aren't impossible to conquer. Just like other obstacles such as a restrictive labour market, lack of support, or financial worries, there are ways to get around them, Mr Cody says, but first it's important to work out if you really do want to change career.

"You need to figure out where the itch is coming from. Thinking you've had enough isn't useful," he says. "Sometimes coming back from holidays to work can just be hard work and is not a valid reason to throw in the towel."

Mr Cody says there can be multiple reasons to want a change, including work environment, relationships, the commute or even just the stage of your life. However, it's important not to be too hasty about it.

"Track this over time," he says, "then you see the consistency or intensity of the career driver or issue. It's helpful to talk it over but also write it down, this will allow you to flesh it out."

It's also important to work out how a career change would affect the rest of your life - relationships, children, the mortgage, and what your personal skills are. Something he says is often forgotten is the impression a change will leave on others. For example if you leave a job after just four months, will that affect your future?

Next comes dealing with those doubts. Mr Cody says one way to "park the noise" can be to remove yourself to another environment like the beach, or camping, which creates the space to allow you to have a "broad lens" on the situation.

Talking about it with family and friends is also helpful. "Get your allies on board," says Mr Cody. "It's important to remember there are professionals - coaches, advisers and mentors who work in the space who can help you."

Mentors are particularly useful, he says, because people naturally because so emotionally involved with themselves they are often unable to see a situation clearly. "It's useful to have people to provide a different outlook on the situation. Just make sure it's supportive."

Once you have ideas you want to explore, it's important to research the ideas and that means more than simply using Google. Doing work experience, contacting professional associations or joining interests groups is part of the process.

Last of all comes the real action - deciding if a change requires more learning, talking to your existing employer, writing your CV or business plan, contacting an agency, letting your network know and re-evaluating your current circumstances again.

Mr Cody says not everyone will go through the same steps - particularly if it's not a planned career change - but even some of the tools will be useful to everyone.