Unless you're particularly lucky, most people have had a job they knew wasn't the right fit. Of course, there are the natural growing pains that come with exploring your fields of interest, especially if you're new to the whole job market scene. Almost everyone has had to go through the employment rite of passage where you utterly hate your job, like the summer you worked in the mall or that time you were the assistant to an absolute jerk. But what about when it's more than that? There are some signs you're in the wrong career.
Beyond the obvious red flags, say your employer is about to file for bankruptcy or you consciously hate your job, there are other, less obvious signs that the field of work you're currently in may not be the right one for you. Clearly time doesn't have a pause or rewind button, so why waste any more of that precious commodity in a position that is totally wrong for you?
Although it can be scary to step out of your comfort zone and try something different, the end result could be a huge payoff and mean an entirely new career path full of new opportunities. So here are some signs you're in the wrong career and what you can do about it.
1. You've Lost Your Drive
New jobs tend to follow the same pattern of new relationships. The beginning is so fresh and exciting, then you settle into a routine. And — if it's wrong for you — you fall out of love but aren't sure how to cut the ties. "If you’re not doing what you love, you will never tap your true potential," Lynn Taylor, an author and expert in career development, told Forbes. "It will just continue to be ‘a job,’ and eventually each day will seem more of a grind.”
So what do you do once you've realized you have zero passion for your job? Carol Roth, a former investment banker, told The Fiscal Times that it's a good idea to make sure this is more than a creative slump before you burn any bridges and take a short sabbatical or some time off to rethink things. That way you don't wake up the day after you quit with a large dose of regret.
2. You're In Over Your Head
Though the first day on the job and the process of learning the new ropes at your work can be daunting, if you continue to feel like you're shakily walking on a tightrope, you might be in over your head. Drew Hendricks, a marketing professional, told Inc, "if you're not good at your profession, even though you work diligently and try to keep pace, maybe the real problem is that it's just not for you."
Once you know that you're at the wrong job because it wasn't the right match, what's next? "Stick to your guns," Anna Lundberg, a business consultant, told Business Inside. "Recruiters call with tempting job titles, my parents worry about my pension, clients want full-time support . . . but I know now that I’m the only one who knows what’s right for me."
3. You're At A Standstill
If you feel like you're just treading water in your current field, it could be more than just reaching a plateau. "You’re stagnating at work and under-utilizing your skills to the point of atrophy," Amanda Frank, a specialist in marketing communications, told Monster. "It’s a bad sign if you’re losing the stuff that makes you stand out professionally."
Just like the old saying, if you don't use it you'll lose it, how do you get out of a situation where your unique skills are withering? "Be prepared to propose any realistic changes that would make your current job better," career expert, Alison Doyle, told Job Search. "Employers have been known to make all kinds of changes to retain strong performers including promotions, reassignment to other bosses and changes in job duties." Sometimes you can be in the wrong career, but an honest discussion with your boss could open new doors at the same company.
4. You're Permanently Daydreaming
Spending more time thinking about new jobs than you do about your current job could be a sign you're in the wrong place. "Do you oftentimes sit back and wonder what life would be like had you changed your major in college and chosen a different career path?" entrepreneur Michael Price told The Huffington Post, You may have chosen the wrong job or career."
If you've made the choice to find something more fitting, don't completely disregard the experience you had at your previous job. "A new position is an opportunity to do things differently," marketing strategist, Miriam Salpeter said on AOL Finance. "It's a fresh start and a chance to take any lessons from your past job and apply them to your next career move."
5. You're Miserable Mentally & Physically
It's one thing to hate your alarm clock, but when you dread going to work with such intensity that the stress is starting to take a toll on your health, you might want to rethink your field of work. Teri Hockett, a transitional career expert, told Forbes, "when the work, people, or culture is unhealthy, and it has a negative impact on you physically and mentally . . . it’s time to get out."
The first step is to take care of you and get yourself back into good health. Many people wait to quit until they have a new job ready, but often that just delays your much-needed exit from your current career. "If you feel you’re in a toxic work environment and appealing to your manager doesn’t resolve your problem, you may be smart to leave," according to US News. "That way, you can recover and focus on a job search from a more stable situation."