Leadership

7 steps you can take to be happier with your career

If you're unhappy at your job, research shows your stress is likely sabotaging both your productivity and your career.

Whether you work in a toxic work environment, no longer think you're a good fit there or flat out hate what you're doing, it's "never too late to begin again," creative entrepreneur and author Adam J. Kurtz tells CNBC Make It.

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The 29-year-old has done a range of design work for brands including General Mills, Adobe, Urban Outfitters and Strand Bookstore, to name a few, but it was only in the past few years that he channeled his creative passions into a full-time career.

Not sure if you're ready to make the change? Here are the signs Kurtz says he felt when it was time for a fresh start and you may also feel:

  • You feel yourself burning out
  • You can feel the itch to work on something else entirely, to try new things
  • You're rethinking what your career is and can be

Kurtz addresses these feelings in his new book, "Things Are What You Make of Them," a collection of hand-lettered, "no-nonsense advice" for anyone seeking change and creativity in their work and life.

Whether you have "a nagging feeling you can't ignore anymore" or got through a major life event that forced you to rethink life, Kurtz says there will come a point when "you need to shake things up—even if it's uncomfortable—to get what you want or need."

Based off of Kurtz's advice, here are seven steps you can take if you feel you may need a fresh start in your career.

Don't look back in anger

As you seek out change in your life and career, it's key to let go of negative feelings and memories with past bosses or workers.

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"We all regret things we may have said or done, knowing that we caused unnecessary harm or wasted energy or otherwise just didn't help anyone," Kurtz says. "But your specific past is what has brought you to where you are now and made you who you are."

He adds that holding on to resentment also "discredits the fact that everything you know now comes directly from that past," because "you weren't born smart, your skills have been learned over time."

When it's time to move forward, Kurtz recommends you embrace the excitement of a fresh start.

"Even if it's about to be really hard, new territory will push you into a new state of being, your next self and open up dozens of new doors for you," he says.

Check your pulse

If you've been mindlessly getting through your job, it's possible that you've forgotten what you truly care about in your career.

By "checking your pulse," Kurtz recommends you "take time to identify who you are now, what you know, what you're good at and use that to help define what to be doing next."

This will not only give you a sense of direction in your career, but it will allow you to assess what you actually want to get out of your next endeavor.

Do your research

For as long as you've been working in your current industry, the field you may be looking to join has also been changing, Kurtz notes, so get out there and learn as much as you can.

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This can involve asking questions such as, "What are trends like now?" and "What can you offer that you don't see represented?" Ultimately, Kurtz says you should search for what will offer you more of what don't currently have and/or want more of.

"Researching emerging industries is an opportunity to see what might be a viable career, something that might offer more free time or more money or more access," Kurtz says.

Update your skillset

Once you've figured out the field you want to join and have done your research on it, the next step is figuring out how to do that new job and seeing what new tools are out there, Kurtz says.

If you're returning to an old passion, Kurtz points out that there are likely new resources available now than what was offered however much time ago.

"Arm yourself with the tools that you might not have had the first time," Kurtz says.

Hold yourself accountable

After all this planning, the next step is to make sure that you accomplish your new goals.

"Sometimes, some of us, maybe, possibly, talk about doing things and then don't do them," Kurtz teases. " Hold yourself accountable for your fresh start."

To get closer to your new beginning, Kurtz recommends "writing things down to make them real" and hard to ignore.

"Journaling is a proven strategy for processing emotions and a business plan is how to make things happen," Kurtz says. "A manifesto combines both into a core document that combines who you are and what you'll do, giving you something to take with you as you embark on your new path and something to hold yourself accountable to."

Step away and take a moment for yourself

It's important to understand that "nobody actually reinvents themselves overnight," Kurtz emphasizes.

Regardless of the reason why you have been out of this new profession, "it's the perfect opportunity to make your time away an asset so that you can come back bolstered with new skills, new intention or even a full reinvention," he adds.

"Let's face it, people change and you have changed," Kurtz says. "Might as well make that an asset instead of something to feel unsure about."

'Just go for it'

Now that you've settled on a direction, noted the steps you need to get there and how to prepare for that journey, "it's time to just go for it," Kurtz says.

A post shared by Adam J. Kurtz (@adamjk) on

"Know that you have done all that you can to prepare for the future and feel happy that you have the opportunity for a fresh start," Kurtz says. "It's not going to be easy, but if you've done the homework, have a plan and have the tools, then you're as ready as you'll ever be. Try, try, try."

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