Yep, You Picked the Wrong Career

8 Signs You Picked the Wrong Job—And the Wrong Career Path
by Megan Denneny
Photos Devron Enarson | March 01, 2016

You spend years in school to master the skills you need in order to spend countless post-grad hours working towards your "dream job." But what happens if you're increasingly more unsure of your path?

Have you ever made a decision that seemed fitting at the time? Remember when you picked a new hair color “just to try,” or when you painted the walls of your apartment this “fabulous” new shade, or “invested” in an outfit you never ended up wearing. Yeah, we've all been there. What happens when the non-refundable decision is actually your career choice?

We spend most of our lives developing the skills necessary to land a job that makes us feel fulfilled, supported, and when it doesn’t happen, it can be shocking and disheartening. Your own stubborn conviction may tempt you to “stick it out” rather than making the necessary moves. We have the right to change whatever doesn’t feel right in our lives. Often, the problem is determining when to let it go and change course.

If you’re experiencing any of the below, it’s most likely the moment to say goodbye to your current situation.

1. YOU CAN’T RELATE TO YOUR COWORKERS, LIKE, AT ALL

This could just be the office atmosphere, which is unfortunate but not a deal-breaker. But think hard: when you network with others in your field, do you find it unreasonably challenging to make sense of what they’re saying, or find yourself tuning them out completely?   

If so, it’s probably not your industry. To find out what is, actively seek out people outside of your network and ask for informational interviews. This is the ideal way to talk to someone about an industry that you may have an interest in.

Are you in a position to renegotiate some of your responsibilities, or rework your job to your liking?

2. YOU SPEND YOUR WORK DAY DAYDREAMING ABOUT OTHER JOBS  

We all have a little career envy every once in a while—who wouldn’t love working with celebs every day or working on a beach in a tropical oasis?—but if you find yourself wanting to be anywhere other than your desk, especially another desk, you should start looking at your options.

3. YOU FIND YOURSELF WISHING YOU COULD GO BACK, NOT FORWARD

We all wish we could go back in time and do certain things differently. If you realize you probably should have majored in something else, or that you should never have headed down this career path, that’s okay—don't panic or beat yourself up. If the thought of starting at ground zero is more exciting to you then continuing your present career, you should probably start looking into a new role or company that will challenge you. If that thought is terrifying... that might not be a bad thing either. {click to tweet} Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again while expecting different results. 

4. YOU DON’T FEEL INSPIRED, CHALLENGED, CREATIVE OR, FRANKLY, GOOD

Our careers are supposed to propel us forward. Fulfilling careers often make us curious, committed, and give us the desire to improve. If you find yourself lacking these qualities, perhaps consider picking up hobbies outside of work that can fill this void. If anything, your extracurriculars will let you test out your passions, risk-free, potentially leading you to a new job or industry. 

5. YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN IMPROVING (AND MAYBE EVEN HAVE FACED SOME NEGATIVE REVIEWS)

Feedback is ubiquitous in the career-oriented individual's world. {click to tweet} We all seek feedback to get better and learn about ourselves as working professionals. However, if you find that your boss is consistently nagging you about your poor performance it may mean you are in the wrong career. Sometimes, we genuinely don’t understand tasks, but if you're finding you simply don’t care enough to improve, its time to get out of there.

6. YOU’D RATHER BE ANYWHERE—THE DENTIST, CLIMBING EVEREST, ON A STAGE NAKED—THAN AT WORK

We can all agree sitting in the waiting area of the doctor’s office is fairly anxiety-inducing but if you find every excuse in the book to avoid work, you should consider what's exactly fueling those "ditching desires." Are you putting things off until the last minute? Do you find it hard to manage stress? Do you genuinely dislike what you're doing?

[Picking up a hobby] will let you test out your passions, risk-free, potentially leading you to a new job or industry. 

7. YOU FIND YOURSELF ON JOB WEBSITES MORE THAN DOING ACTUAL WORK

Looking at other potential jobs can feel a bit like cheating on your current one but we can all take a peek every once and a while to avoid a little career FOMO. If your current job is lacking what you consider to be majorly important benefits, maybe your job isn't what you once thought it was. Are you in a position to renegotiate some of your responsibilities, or rework your job to your liking? Otherwise, it might be time to start submitting resumes. 

8. YOUR HEART ISN’T FILLED WITH PASSION, BUT YOUR STOMACH SURE HURTS

We hear it again and again that we are supposed to be passionate about our careers. Of course, it’s important but let’s be honest, it won’t be rainbows and butterflies every day. Some days may cause so much stress, you might want to pack everything up and go home (for the day or permanently). But more often than not, your days should be filled with passion, or at the very least not bring you more stress than happiness. {click to tweet} You should feel like you're making a difference in some way and growing as a professional. It can be confusing, but your heart will let you know if you made the right choice. 

Buyer’s remorse can be a real downer. Career remorse is even worse. If you find yourself experiencing any of the above, particularly in combination with one another, it's worth your time to reevaluate. Maybe it’s not even the wrong career, just the chapter is ending in your book and you are ready for a new adventure. Try to pick up new hobbies first, explore options through jobs listings, ask for informational interviews and if the stars align then take that jump into a new career. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we find ourselves in the wrong career. Life is a continual learning process and we should embrace our own unique stories.

Have you experienced some of these feelings before? What was your outcome? Tell us below.