Why We Choose the Wrong Career

Changing jobs is a natural part of building a career in today’s world. Many things motivate our desire to try something new, including necessity, desire for new challenges, and the need to make more money. But, for some, there is more to these professional shifts. If you sometimes feel like you’re in the wrong profession altogether, you understand. How does this happen, and how did you get here?

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(Photo Credit: the UMF/Flickr)

Many articles on the web are devoted to topics like why we choose the wrong partner, but perhaps we need more discussion about why we sometimes choose the wrong career as well. Examining how we make career decisions can help us make different choices in the future, ones that lead to a better fit and ultimately, greater fulfillment.

So, here are some ideas about why you might have chosen the wrong career.

1. You didn’t actually choose it in the first place.

Many people find themselves in the job/profession that their parents choose for them, or that their circumstances led them toward, rather than actually making a conscious choice at some point. If everyone in your family works in education for example, you might have pictured yourself working in the field from a very young age, and never really questioned it. It felt right, because it was what you knew. Or, perhaps it was expected that you enter into the family business. The push-back required to blaze a divergent trail might have felt like more effort than it was worth. Staying the course, walking the path laid out for us as children, is often the easiest thing to do. So, sometimes you land in a profession that you never really chose for yourself in the first place.

2. You didn’t know yourself very well when you made the choice.

As we grow, we learn more about who we are and how we’d like to spend our time. A lot of people make career changes in their mid-30s because they’ve grown into themselves by this point, and they know more about what they want. When you’re young, you might chase different ends — money, time-off, the respect and admiration of others — but as you come to know yourself more, with age and experience, you might find that your current job or career just doesn’t match up with who you are the way you thought it would, or the way it used to. Now that you know yourself better, and what you’d like to get out of your job, you can make a better choice.

3. The job that’s meant for you didn’t exist years ago.

The world is moving and changing so quickly that new jobs, or even entirely new fields, are available now that did not even exist when we were young. Maybe you’re passionate about technology, or you love social media. You couldn’t have predicted that these things would captivate you professionally years ago, because they are entirely new. Many jobs exist now that didn’t years ago — maybe working in a newer industry is what’s right for you.

4. You realize now that you really need to love it.

When you’re young, you might be more apt to feel that success is measured by money and status. But, after working in a chosen field day after day, year after year, you realize that your work really needs to make you happy too. If possible, we’d like to love our jobs. We give so much of our time and energy to work, so it can be a real downer to do something every day that you don’t love. Compensation is important, but feeling a real connection to your profession is, too.

5. It was meant to be temporary.

One day folds right into the next, and sometimes you might find yourself staying in a position for years that you only intended to have temporarily. Life is challenging and complicated, and you might have chosen to take a job to meet your needs at a given time, but the position isn’t ultimately right for you. Still, it takes time, energy, and courage to make a change — so sometimes a temporary position winds up being a lot more permanent than originally intended.

Life is long, so no matter what the cause, if you find yourself working in a job that just doesn’t feel right, it might be worth considering a change.

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