Stop Waiting for the “Right Time” to Make a Change

When contemplating a new career path — or any kind of professional change — we often find ourselves inventing reasons why it’s not the right moment to act. We reassure ourselves that a more opportune time will eventually arise. But the reality is that the right time is a myth, and when we perpetuate it, we choose to live by default rather than design. We let fear and doubt dictate our choices, drive our decision-making, and limit our potential.

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about leaving a familiar role. Where there is change, there is risk, and uncertainty is uncomfortable. Yet, if you’ve been pondering switching jobs for some time — whether due to boredom, a bad boss, a new passion, or a lack of opportunity to grow — taking action may actually be the transformative step you need. Your satisfaction at work doesn’t only affect you during office hours. It impacts your happiness, health, and well-being around the clock.

The good news is that each of us has the power to make now the right time for change. We have the autonomy to take ownership of our lives and pursue our professional goals with courage and confidence. Sometimes, all we need is a little nudge.


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If you’re hesitant to make a career change despite being unhappy at work, it may be useful to understand the consequences of inaction. According to the latest Gallup State of the Workplace Report, six in 10 employees feel emotionally detached and nearly 1 in 5 are actively disengaged in their jobs. Another survey earlier this year found that nearly 58% of employees are contemplating a career change and that 13% think their career was never a good fit. Unsurprisingly, this misery has a profound impact on our well-being. It can cause depression, anxiety, panic attacks, a decrease in self-esteem and self-worth, and sleep disturbances.

If those statistics haven’t captured your attention, consider that the average person spends 81,396 hours at work. That’s equivalent to over nine years of our lives. That time shouldn’t be full of misery. It should be fulfilling — and sometimes, you may need to take ownership to make that happen.

Here are a few ways to get started.


When facing a significant decision, like a career change, we often turn to decision-making tools like pro/con lists to help us decide the best path forward. The problem is that this black-and-white method, and others like it, often leads to biased decisions that are influenced by our natural discomfort with uncertainty. Research shows that, as humans, we tend to resist change because we are creatures of habit. We seek familiarity, and as a result, we’re susceptible to getting stuck in thought cycles that influence us to make the most immediately convenient choice instead of the choice that will be best for us in the future.

So, instead of asking “Is now the right time?” reframe the question to “Why is now the right time?” This seemingly small shift in perspective can make a significant difference. By reframing the question, we’re encouraged to critically examine our current situation and the potential for a better future situation. Instead of listing out what starkly feels “good” and “bad” about each potential path, we’re forced to think about change in a more positive way and even see it as an opportunity for growth.


Recognizing the “right time” myth and reframing the question is a crucial mental shift. But the larger challenge lies in translating your new awareness into actionable steps you can take to move forward. This is where practical tools, such as creating a vision board, come into play.

A vision board is not just an artistic endeavor. It’s a strategic tool that can bridge the gap between our aspirations and our realities. By visually mapping out our goals and dreams, we confront the possibilities head on, transforming abstract ideas into achievable plans. This process empowers us to move beyond the paralysis of waiting for the right moment and into the realm of active pursuit of our career aspirations.

Start by choosing the medium for your vision board — you can use poster board, cork board, simple paper, digital platforms like Canva or Pinterest, or even a whiteboard. Then, collect elements that represent your goal and how achieving this goal will make you feel. These elements can include images, quotes, infographics, drawings, writings, or tools for tracking progress. Arrange these elements in a manner that feels right to you. There are no rules. Some people create very structured boards, while others create boards that are more freeform and collage-like. Some people gravitate towards a board filled with images, while others may forego images altogether.

Because your happiness at work influences all areas of your life — family, health, and general well-being — consider including elements on your board. Let it serve as a catalyst for taking action and motivate you to take a path that aligns with your deepest aspirations.

Finally, remember that having a clear vision not only provides you with direction but also harnesses the power of your brain. When you commit to a goal, like making a career pivot or change, your brain actually adapts its structure to help you realize success. The more you desire a goal and the more ambitious your goal is, the more you tap into the power of your brain, increasing the likelihood of achieving it.


Once you are clear on your vision and what success looks like, create an action plan for achieving your goal. An effective action plan includes identifying:

WHERE you are

WHAT milestones you need to reach to achieve your goal

HOW you are going reach each milestone

Identifying where you are now is just as important as knowing your goal. You can’t, for example, book a flight without knowing both your departure point and destination. To understand where you are, you need to self-reflect and self-assess. Assess your skillset and resources, identify limiting beliefs, and be honest about what is working right now and what is not.

Next, determine what milestones are necessary to achieve your goal. These milestones should be crafted using the SMART criteria – each should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Compile a list of specific actions – the “how” – detailing the steps you will take to reach each milestone.


To truly capitalize on the momentum of that shift, bring your goals into the external world. Sharing your intentions is a powerful way to hold yourself accountable and push yourself into action mode. When you publicly commit (say, to a close friend or your mentor), you’re not just vocalizing your aspirations — you’re significantly boosting your chances of success (by 65%, according to research).

But don’t stop there. Pairing a public commitment with the support of an accountability partner can amplify your results even further. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague, or coach, having someone to share your journey adds a layer of responsibility and motivation that is hard to replicate. Research shows that regular check-ins with a partner can skyrocket your chances of success, potentially up to 95%. So, choose someone you can rely on, tell them your plan, and set regular times to touch base with them about your progress.


Just because you decide to make it the right time doesn’t mean success will be instantaneous. Taking ownership of your life, living your life by design, and achieving your goal does not happen overnight. After you make the commitment to yourself and others, there will be ups and downs, and the path forward will not always be easy, nor is it likely to be straight. It is important to be realistic and give yourself the time required to be successful.

If you are unhappy in your role, if you feel like you are on the wrong career path, if you don’t feel fulfilled in your work and life — stop finding reasons why you shouldn’t pursue what you really want, stop submitting to the myth of the right time, and commit to creating the life and future you want. The right time is not something that happens to you. It’s something that you create for yourself. You have the power to make it the right time for your dreams and your goals.

Are you ready to stop waiting for the right time and prioritize your life?

c.2024 Harvard Business Review. Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group.

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