How to Know If You’re In the Wrong Job
“How long does it take to realize you’re in the wrong job?”
This is a question I recently came across on Quora. I’ll share my response with you. But first, I want to ask you:
Are you also wondering the same thing?
Or is it already clear you’re in the wrong job?
Could it be time for a new career for you?
Especially if you already realize you’re in the wrong job.
The question posed isn’t, “How do you know you’re in the wrong job?”
Instead it’s, “How long does it take to realize it?”
My response on Quora actually answers both of these questions.
The Quick Way to Know
It doesn’t take long to know if you’re in the wrong job when you spend a few minutes taking some personal (and honest) inventory.
Here’s an exercise that’s much more effective than a traditional pros and cons list:
Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns.
The first column should include the things you must have in a job (i.e. your “dealbreakers”).
The second column should be the things you’re willing to compromise on.
The third column should be the “icing on the cake” things (i.e. things you would LOVE to have in a job, but don’t necessarily need to be content).
Compare your three lists to your current job.
Does your current job have at least 60% of the things listed on your sheet of paper?
Or at least 60% of the things from the “must have” column?
If not, it’s time to start looking for the right job that matches the majority of those things on your 3-column list.
The 60% Rule
I always tell my clients,
“You should love at least 60% of your job.”
Because nobody loves 100% of their job 100% of the time, but if it’s less than 60%, you’re in the wrong job or career.
I once had a client who, when he first came to me, was so miserable in his job that there were some evenings he said he would find himself in the fetal position on his couch near tears at the thought having to go back to work the next day.
After reviewing the results of some inventories he’d done with a previous career coach, I said,
“Do you realize you only enjoy less than 20% of your current job? No wonder you’re so miserable!”
Another surprising thing I discovered from the results of his inventory was he has a very entrepreneurial spirit.
This all came as a shock to him because the results had not previously been interpreted to him in such a way.
Revealing these insights to him with a new lens of “passion” instead of just “job” or “career” opened up a whole new outlook for him.
He’s now been able to make extra money on the side doing the art work he’s passionate about and very talented at.
This could possibly lead to his own full-time business as an illustrator and cartoonist.
Or provide him the financial means to leave his current job in search of something more fitting with his foreign language skills. (The guy speaks 3 languages, including Japanese!)
Where a pros and cons list would’ve been more limiting, my client is instead more diligent in not compromising on his “must haves” and more open to opportunities that meets at least 60% of the criteria from his 3-pronged list.
I’ve personally found the 3-column list exercise to be more helpful than a pros and cons list when it comes to my own big life decisions.
The benefits are that it helps with “analysis paralysis” and keeps you from overthinking or second-guessing your decisions.
It also helps you stay realistic when considering different opportunities.
The More In Depth Approach
Another thing that’s helped me personally and also helps my clients is to spend some time coming up with your own personal mission statement.
This may take a little time to nail down, but it’s well worth it.
Because you can use it as a filter for your decisions.
For instance, my personal mission statement is:
“To boldly pursue my passions and purpose, and to teach, encourage, and inspire others to do the same, resulting in lives overflowing with joy, peace, and fulfillment.”
When I’m faced with a difficult decision, I look to see if the choice in front of me supports my mission statement or not.
If it doesn’t, I don’t select that choice.
This helps me to live authentically and be true to my purpose.
Click here to read more about my process of writing a personal mission statement.
So where are YOU in this all-important decision?
If you know it’s time for a new career, a career coach can help you figure out your options and how to make the transition.
Don’t wait until the end of the year where you’ll find yourself in the same situation.
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service that helps people get unstuck and pursue their passions and find work they love.