How Long Does It Take To Realize You’re In The Wrong Job?

This answer from Dan Holliday originally appeared on Quora.


I was making $35,000 as an assistant manager at Walmart in 2004. I interviewed with Costco thinking I’d never get the job so I shot for the stars and requested $60,000. The interview went well but I was sure they were going to hire someone else. I’d only been drug-free for like three years and I had this lingering feeling that I’d be a loser for the rest of my life.† To my pleasant surprise, I nearly doubled my salary and got the job.

I thought I’d made it. I was still living with my parents, paying them $400 a month rent (because, well, this is the US and parents charge adult children for rent and even if they didn’t, I wouldn’t live with them without paying something) and suddenly I had all this money. I was so excited. I really believed that I’d turned a corner in my life.

I walked into my job and by the time I left that day, I knew something was wrong. By the end of the first week, I knew I’d made a horrible mistake. I couldn’t believe I’d left a job as a manager at Walmart — which I loved, believe it or not — for a job that I knew within one day that I’d hated. (Note: Costco is an amazing company, one of the very best; this particular issue was with my warehouse manager and the specific job I was tasked with and most importantly of all, with myself — I was just a very bad fit for the role)

And man did I hate it. I stuck it out for four months then began frantically applying around. I ended up landing the job that I’d stay at for six years (Kohls) that started out great, but ended up sucking the life out of me (no knock to Kohls, who is one of the few companies that treats managers with grace and dignity).

It takes a while for me to know I love a job. It takes me a few hours to know that I’m gonna hate it. My instinct has never been wrong so far.


†When you get defeated like that, you spend a lot of time imagining what success would be. I ended my senior HR role at over 100k and I hated my life. I took a huge pay cut to do something I liked. I’ve worked my way up to a great salary, but through all of these years, I didn’t realize that the paycheck didn’t make the success (but it doesn’t hurt). If you’re miserable and you hate the job, no amount of money makes it worth it.

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