I Chose the Wrong Career: Signs and What To Do

The typical reaction usually includes a mix of panic, desperation, and discouragement. Those four (or more) years of school? A complete waste. The internships and entry-level positions that helped you get your foot in the door? Meaningless. All that time and talent spent on a career you’ve now determined that you absolutely hate.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you first realize that you may want to make a career 180, try to avoid the following common reactions—and learn to look at the situation in a different (and more positive) light.

What to do if you’ve picked the wrong career | JOB CHANGE ADVICE & TIPS

Signs you chose the wrong career

There are several signs that suggest you mightve chosen the wrong career, such as:

Effects on mental health

No matter your profession, you can expect to have troubling periods where you feel stressed, anxious or frustrated. While not pleasant, these feelings may mean you care about your work and are passionate about producing excellent results. For instance, a doctor may have to treat a difficult case that makes them feel emotions usually considered negative, but these emotions might mean the doctor sincerely wants to figure out a problem and ensure the patients wellbeing, not that theyre in the wrong career.

However, if your career has continuously caused you to feel negative emotions and mentally unhealthy, you may reconsider your career choice. A right career can improve your mental health by giving you a sense of purpose, providing you with positive social interactions, giving you the resources to take care of yourself and improving your self-esteem. If you believe your career cant offer any of these benefits, then it might be time to look for a new profession.

Physical symptoms

Physical health provides several insights into whether youre in a wrong career. Your body reflects your mental health. If your chronic physical ailments parallel your mental health symptoms, you might be suffering because of stress from work. The demands of your career may also make it impossible to care for your bodys needs with exercise, sleep and regular diet. Most people work until in their 60s. If the schedule youd maintain for decades equals decades of physical pain, you might be in the wrong career.

Sometimes physical symptoms are much simpler indicators of being in the wrong career. If you work in a physically demanding job and an injury or bodily condition makes performing your duties dangerous or painful, then you might consider a career change.

Poor career outlook

Your career outlook has two key components: trends affecting the profession and your personal feelings about the future. You likely have some understanding of the economic trends that may improve or diminish your future prospects, but its helpful to study what economists and industry leaders predict for your career. For instance, if you choose a career driving taxis, you might feel the hiring environment is currently promising, but it might be useful to know that automated cars may eliminate most taxi driver positions in the future.

How you feel about your future also may help determine if youve chosen the right profession. Ideally, you know how you can progress in your role, desire to improve your work performance and look forward to building your career. If youre pessimistic about continuing in your field or feel there is no opportunity for growth, you might rethink your professional future.

Underperformance

In the wrong career, you regularly dont perform to the best of your abilities. Beyond receiving occasional criticism or making individual errors, you dont give the energy and attention necessary to meet your employers expectations. Or, you may find your skills simply dont match the job.

In the right career, your work motivates you to solve problems, help your team and provide value for those around you. These behaviors lead to you becoming a better, more talented employee deserving of advancement. In a job you enjoy, even when you experience a setback, you apply what you learn to avoid the same mistakes.

Unused potential

As you spend time in your career, you might realize your greatest professional attributes might go unused, even with advancement. This might leave you dissatisfied or feeling undervalued and resentful. There also may be real economic cost to not finding a career that involves your talents. For instance, if you have great analytical and interpersonal skills, you might thrive as a financial advisor, enjoying your job and making money for your clients and yourself. If you continue in a career that features neither skill, you might limit your own earnings and satisfaction potential.

Disengagement

If you find yourself in a career that isnt particularly stressful or difficult yet you struggle to find motivation to grow, evaluate why your career is failing to engage you. Even if work isnt your first priority, you deserve a career that at least helps you learn new skills and feel a sense of professional purpose. By choosing a more suitable career, you might find yourself more engaged than you previously thought possible.

What is a wrong career?

A wrong career is one that consistently fails to meet the qualities that your “right” career would have. Your skills, preferences, value placed on work and beliefs determine a well-chosen career, and these factors may change with time. A career that felt right initially may now seem wrong for you.

Most professionals have to make some compromises between their ideal and actual work circumstances, but its important to consider if the compromises youre making are acceptable or are helping you achieve long-term goals. If not, you may be in the wrong career.

Here are the factors you might look at in assessing how suitable of a career youve chosen:

What to do if you chose the wrong career

If you feel you chose the wrong career, here are the actions to take:

1. Reevaluate your conclusion

Before making any decisions, allow yourself to reevaluate whats making you feel pessimistic or upset about work. You may be correct about needing a career change, but there are other possible causes, such as:

2. Rank your priorities

If you conclude with certainty that youre in the wrong career, then ranking your priorities can help you make a better choice this time. Keeping in mind that no career can be perfect, list the priorities you associate with work and decide which ones are most important for you to configure into future roles.

3. Define qualifications

While there might be an array of careers that meet your priorities, you likely have qualifications that make some options more sensible or easier to accomplish. Review the skills and abilities you gained from your education and professional experiences and compare them to the job descriptions that most intrigue you. Changing careers usually requires learning new material or skills, so identify any additional training necessary to adapt your qualifications for your transition.

3. Research potential careers

Finding the right career entails making an informed and researched decision. To learn about the new roles you might fill, you can consult vocational counselors, online resources, take career aptitude tests and even request informational interviews with professionals who work in fields that interest you. To better understand what your future might look like in a new career, consider:

5. Begin transition

Once you have settled on a career that you believe will address your current dissatisfaction, begin taking the specific steps your transition requires. Continue to research your chosen career and seek the guidance or counseling that increases your chances of success. Talk to anyone in your personal or professional networks who works in a similar role and consider their advice. When you apply to jobs in the new field, these connections you already have may be tremendously helpful in earning a referral or recommendation that leads to getting hired.

FAQ

What do you do if you have chosen the wrong career?

If you feel you chose the wrong career, here are the actions to take:
  1. Reevaluate your conclusion. Before making any decisions, allow yourself to reevaluate what’s making you feel pessimistic or upset about work. …
  2. Rank your priorities. …
  3. Define qualifications. …
  4. Research potential careers. …
  5. Begin transition.

How do you tell if you chose the wrong career?

Caption Options
  1. You’re in a dead-end situation. No matter your current job, we’ll be you eventually want to move up, over, or on. …
  2. You’re exhausted. …
  3. Your career doesn’t feel like a fit. …
  4. You avoid talking about work. …
  5. You aren’t performing well.

What percentage of people choose the wrong career?

Why 99 Percent of People Choose the Wrong Career Path (and 4 Steps to Get You Back on Track) Top companies choose Edflex to build in-demand career skills.

How do I stop regretting my career choices?

Here’s How to Make Big Career Decisions You Won’t Regret
  1. You’ve Got to Collect All the Information. The first step is research. …
  2. You’ve Got to Chill Out. …
  3. You’ve Got to Know All the Options. …
  4. You’ve Got to Keep a List. …
  5. You’ve Got to Keep Things in Perspective.

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