7 Things To Do If You Find Yourself In The Wrong Career
Being a twenty-something means that you're just figuring this whole "adult" thing out. There's a lot of trial and error. Sometimes things end up working, and sometimes they don't, but it's all part of the process. And one of those things that might need a quick u-turn is a career you need to change. Just because something fit your dreams or interests when you first dipped your toe into the job market then doesn't mean it fits it now, and so you find yourself at an impasse where you're not quite sure what to do: Keep gritting your teeth and clocking in your days, or do you upend your life and find a new career altogether?
If it takes a considerable amount of willpower to convince yourself to get into your work clothes every morning, then I'm going to suggest the latter option. Don't be afraid to completely change tracks — developing new interests and passions only means that you're growing, which is never something to feel guilty about. But how do you keep your calm when you discover it's time to completely change careers? Or, more importantly, what do you do when you find yourself in the wrong career? How do you remedy that? I've got you.Below are seven tips on what to do when you find yourself in the wrong career, and how to find your new one with little fuss and scrapes.
1. Don't Beat Yourself Up
It always seems like everyone around you is on a neat road moving them forward, so when you run across a snag or an unexpected curve ball, it can feel unsettling. Like you've just been upended and have completely and totally failed at life, at the ripe old age of a twenty-something year old.
Trust me when I say that you're just buying into the brave face everyone puts on when they go outside and leave their apartments. We all make mistakes, we backpeddle, U-turn, and change our minds. Life is a growing experience, and with growth comes change. So if you find the major you're studying or the job you're in no longer fits what you want or love, have enough courage to do something to change it, and without guilt.
Lifestyle writer Lewis Humphries at Lifehack explained, "It is important not to dwell on past events or the exact reason for your career stagnation, as this will only create further feelings of negativity and depression." Rather than beating yourself up for the decisions that left you in this dead-end, get excited about what awaits you once you make a change. Guilt isn't going to help you fix anything, so don't bother with it.
2. Break Down Your Job Into The Compartments That Kill You
What about your job makes it take an excessive amount of willpower to get out of bed in the morning? Is it your Miranda Priestly-esque boss? Is it your passive-aggressive co-workers? Maybe you don't like the clients you have to interact with, or some of your core tasks drain you by the time five o'clock hits. Studying what exactly isn't working for you will help you figure out what new direction to head in.
Lifestyle writer and contributor to Forbes, Alison Elissa Cardy, offered, "Consider whether your dissatisfaction is core to the job itself, like your day-to-day work activities, or environmental, like annoying co-workers, an overly demanding boss or a lengthy commute...If it is the job itself that is draining your energy, that is a clear sign of a need for a change." If you list down all your hates, then you'll be able to see what to avoid on your new job hunt.
3. Now List All The Things About Your Job That You Love
Even though you're ready for a change, there are parts of your job that you enjoyed while you were there. What bits made you completely lose track of time, or had you excited to start a project? When did you feel most appreciated, or what had you not minding staying over-time at the office to finish? What do you find yourself curious over, and what would you love to devote more time to learn about?
Cardy suggested, "See if you can extrapolate a few common themes in your interests — then ask yourself why you enjoy them. Do you enjoy writing music because it allows for creativity or accounting because there’s always a definite number at the end of the tunnel? While you might not want to be a composer or accountant, you’ll want to keep these themes in mind when pursuing a new opportunity." Knowing what drives you will help you pinpoint a new direction.
4. Track Down What You Value The Most In A Job
Before jumping into the job search, first track down what you value the most in a work environment so you don't make the same mistake twice. Are you craving a place that lets you be more creative and innovative with your ideas? Do you need a friendly environment, or one that'll challenge you to keep growing and learning? Do you need to be helping people, or do you enjoy working alone? What do you value the most when it comes to your work?
Cardy noted about a past client she worked with in the same boat, "We noted that the times Hannah had been most fulfilled in school and in other work experiences was when she had been given more creative license. Hannah didn’t need a total career change. After all, many consulting firms encourage innovation. She just needed to find an environment where this was the case." Narrow down where your values lie and you'll better understand where you need to go.
5. Don't Up And Quit — Get Some Prospects Lined Up
Unless you have a cushion-y nest egg saved up, up and quitting shouldn't be your game plan. Instead, get a couple of interviews or internships on the line that are promising before you begin typing up any two week's notices. Humphries advised, "Always look to seek out alternative opportunities and roles of employment before leaving your existing position, as this will help you maintain a continual source of income." Your landlord and credit card companies will thank you.
6. Use This Time To Experiment With Career Choices
While you're still holding on to your old job, use this experimental time to explore your interests. Volunteer for things, sign up to be an intern after hours or on weekends, or even ask to be placed on part-time to devote more time in dabbling with these different alternatives. Only by trying and learning about different career paths will you get a better handle on what sparks with you and what doesn't.
Mikel offered, "Look for an internship or start volunteering in a field you’ve always been interested in. When a friend was laid off from his job, he wasn’t quite sure what direction he wanted to head in. While he explored his options, he volunteered at a small local brewery because he loved craft beer and wanted to learn more about the industry. That’s how he discovered his passion. He now works for a growing microbrewery as a brewer and helps with their marketing." Don't be afraid to devote some free-time or over-time to figuring out what path you should be on — you'll never know until you try it.
7. Keep Up With Those That Inspire You
While you're in the middle of this small life crisis of starting over, have a small stack of inspiring people that you can look up to when times get tough. Whether they're acquaintances with jobs that you really admire, or people on social media or blogs that are living the dream and loving what they do, follow them during this shaky time to remind yourself that you can do it, too. That you don't have to stay stuck in an office you hate, but that — with a little bit of hustling and determination — you can have that career that you always thought would stay a "dream job."
Copywriter Betsy Mikel told career development site Brazen, "But there will always be a handful of people who are doing something creative. Use them as inspiration as you decide how to move forward. They may even offer you some connections to get your foot in the door to follow their path." So don't give up. Stay inspired, determined, and you can have that career you always daydreamed about.