The average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime Those hours can either be pleasant, or downright miserable, depending on whether or not you’re in the right career.
Sometimes it’s obvious that a job is the “wrong fit” for us, but not always. I know I’ve had jobs that I really wanted to be the right fit for me, but they just weren’t. In fact, more than 80% of people hate their jobs according to a Deloitte Shift Survey.
If you’re not sure if you’re in the right line of work, here are seven questions to ask yourself to find out:
1. Does your work feel meaningful?
Work doesn’t have to be the primary source of meaning in our lives. Many people find deep meaning in their hobbies, relationships, church, or other activities. However, if your work doesn’t feel meaningful to you, it can definitely make it more difficult.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “people who are happy but have little-to-no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are enduring chronic adversity. That is, the bodies of these happy people are preparing them for bacterial threats by activating the pro-inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is, of course, associated with major illnesses like heart disease and various cancers.”
Having meaningful work not only improves your chances of being happy, but it may also improve your health.
2. Are you often late or do you tend to miss a lot of work?
If you get sick a lot, are often late for work, or take as much vacation time as you can on a regular basis, you may be feeling the effects of being in the wrong career. Being in the wrong career causes internal stress that may cause you to get sick more often, procrastinate the things that need you need to do to get to work on time, or make you want to avoid working altogether.
People who are in the right line of work often lose track of time when they are working. Some people even experience flow, a concept proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychology professor and one of the world’s leading researchers on positive psychology. Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as, “spontaneous feelings of joy while performing a task, completely focused motivation.” When you are in a state of flow, you feel like you could work forever, because it doesn’t feel like work. Your work is fun, brings you joy and satisfaction, and you can’t imagine not doing it.
3. Are you passive or apathetic about decisions at your work?
If you don’t really care about decisions at your work, that may be an indication you aren’t fully vested in your work. If you’re passionate about your career, you care deeply about most decisions and how they affect the workplace.
4. Do you feel stress or anxiety either while you are at work or when you think about work?
If the dread about going to work on Monday morning starts on Sunday, you might be in the wrong career. When something isn’t a good fit for us, it causes stress and anxiety in our lives that overflows into non-working hours.
In fact, according to an article on Healthy Living, “Research shows conclusively that the most common day for heart attacks is Monday. Statistics spike on Monday mornings, in particular, since heart attacks occur between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. more than any other six-hour period.” Many people attribute this increase to work-related stress.
5. Do you feel resentment toward either your boss, co-workers, or to your customers?
If you can’t stand your boss, your co-workers, or your customers, that may also be a sign you’re in the wrong career. You’re never going to like everyone you work with, but studies have shown that our connections to people at work are important. If you feel like you’re under appreciated, undervalued, or mistreated, it is easy to allow feelings of dislike and resentment to build up. This can create a toxic environment and a toxic mindset. If you aren’t able to change your mindset, it’s a sure sign you should look for other career options.
6. Do you often feel stressed or overwhelmed?
If you experience high levels of stress or feelings of being overwhelmed on a regular basis, you might be in the wrong line of work. When you’re in a career that you’re passionate about, you experience joy and excitement more often than frenzy.
7. Have you stopped learning or growing in your work?
If you’ve mastered your current position and there are no opportunities for learning, advancement, or growth, you may become bored or frustrated in your career. If this is the case, it may be time to see what other opportunities are available, or look for ways to create new opportunities where you are now. Either way, learning and growing is important to feel satisfaction about your work.
Are you in the right line of work? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below.
I must agree with all that you just mention, i thought i love my job, but lately after reading few books and blogs like this one, i realise… the job i am doing is the one causing all the stress i had and pain in my body, i thought it was normal to feel like this, but now i know it is not good for you at all, for good healthy life, one must follow their bliss, theen they get joy on what they are doing, and they are likely to be prosperious on anything they are doing. great post thank you…
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I hope you find a career that brings you joy. Also, make sure to take good care of yourself. This is so important when we have stressful jobs. Take time for a warm bath, a massage, reading a good book, or just put your feet up.
Morgan Smith says
For me, it’s complicated. I don’t really have a “career”… it’s more like a job. And it’s short enough hours, and it’s good money and it’s easy… but it’s not what I’m proud of. It’s just a way to make stable income. I can’t imagine doing anything else. However, I want to become something great… like a writer. Any suggestions on how to balance the two?
Hi Morgan – excellent question. If you want to be a writer, you can absolutely start now while you are still working at your job. In fact, that’s how a lot of writers and entrepreneurs get started. Do you know what type of writer you would like to be? If not, just start writing and it will come to you. Get a journal or an online notebook and spend time writing every day. I like to write in my online journal each morning, it provides great inspiration and helps my creativity. Keep me posted on your progress 🙂