How can I distinguish between needing a new job versus changing careers?
When contemplating career-altering questions like this, you need to ask yourself two questions:
1) What are you trying to accomplish?
2) Why, at this moment in your life?
Responding honestly to these two questions will help you unveil the root of your intent and will inform the correct direction that will propel your decision.
Now that you have arrived at your "why," the distinction between the two will be more apparent, and you will be able to decide which is your most appropriate action. Needing a new job is about tactical circumstances, short term goals, and is typically a matter of immediacy. Sometimes your mindset is rooted in self-interest, and it can show up in your performance. For example, you may do a good job fulfilling expectations of the role, but you may not take the initiative to go above and beyond what is asked of you.
Changing your career is a strategic decision that begins with a shift in one's mindset in how you can create value for an organization. You don't think first about how much money you will make, but you think about what skills you can contribute, who you want to learn from, and how much you believe in the mission and vision of the company and the industry at large. You strategically think about the tradeoffs and risks involved, even if it means a pay cut. Ultimately, a career change is a decision of fulfillment - it helps you find meaning to your life, work experiences, and skill sets by developing capabilities that produce results that have lasting impacts.
I encourage those of you who feel that inner nudge to take some time to do an internal audit. Assess who you are, what you want, and where your self-value is the most invested. Amid the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules, I can't stress enough that it is imperative to self-evaluate our ambitions before making a transition that can either put you on the fast track to success or knock you ten steps behind. Be intentional and wisely move forward.