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10 Signs Your Current Career Is the Wrong One

by Michelle Ward
craft & maker, money & life

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If you clicked on that headline, it’s because something just isn’t right at work.

Maybe you’re just not feeling like you’re doing something worthwhile. Maybe your colleagues are nobody you’d actually want to spend time with outside the office. Maybe the things you’re asked to do are things you hate doing. Maybe you have a verbally-abusive manager that makes you feel like you’re constantly doing a terrible job.

Maybe it’s just not the career path for you.

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Whatever the feeling, it’s not a good one – and it’s not something you have to stick with. Here are 10 signs your career might be the wrong one, and how to get out of it,

  1. Your career isn’t built around your values. Our values show us exactly what we wanna build our lives and passionate careers around. It’s not about what your man, your kids, or yo’ Mama want for you. It’s not about what you think you should answer or want (“should” is “the s word” in my book!). It’s not based on who you think you might be 5 or 10 or 30 years from now. Allow yourself to declare the values that are vital for you in the here and now, and measure them up against your current career.

  1. Your career isn’t built around your lifestyle preferences. When you think about how you want your day to look when you wake up in the morning, what do you see? Are you home, writing and being able to take care of the kids when they’re home from school? Are you working on-site, going from project to project? Are you in your studio, painting all morning? I always tell my clients that, in its simplest form, our passionate career is one where we wake up in the morning and look forward to at least 70% of what we have on the calendar for that day. To figure that out, you have to know the work structure you crave and the activities that energize and excite you.

  1. You don’t work on things that make you feel fulfilled. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of the Universe – if what you’re working on doesn’t give you more than a superficial level of fulfillment, your 40+ hours each week won’t feel good. Dig deep to find your own mission statement and what matters to you and then find (or start!) the company that’ll bring it to life.

  1. You don’t work with people who allow you to be yourself. When I was getting my coaching certification and building up my business, I was an Executive Assistant at a financial consultancy company. Two years and change after I started working there, I got in trouble for speaking too loudly in my cube, thanks to my colleague who complained to my manager. Now, mind you, I’m a Long Islander with my BFA in theater – I’ve always been loud. But that didn’t stop me from getting chastised for a natural personality trait of mine, and from making me feel like I couldn’t be myself at work. (And yes, when I decided to keep my mouth shut during most of the day, I got chastised for not being so personable and willing to help others anymore. When I told my manager she essentially took away all of my communication skills and I didn’t know how to conduct myself anymore, she said, “Go back to the old Michelle.” Oh, OK then.) Now, I’m myself 24/7 – and am appreciated for it! The best.

  1. You hate doing the things that you’re good at doing, or are asked to do. Lots of career coaches and counselors talk about “transferable skills”, and building a career based on what you’re good at. But what if you don’t like doing the things you’re good at? You can be a great project manager, but if you don’t have a tolerance for chasing people or organizing things, then being a project manager is not for you. Instead of relying on the transferable skills that you don’t care about or don’t like doing, focus on the things that you do enjoy – even if you’re not great at them (yet!).

  1. Your current career was your fallback. You might’ve dreamed of being an artist since the age of 10, but never thought it was something that could be a realistic, lucrative career. So, you fell into retail and never got out. But what’s still inside of you? That artist, wanting to get out. Start honoring that by getting back to the easel (or sketchbook, or computer program) for 15 minutes at a time, a few times a week. See if getting back to the artist in your personally ends up fulfilling you more professionally. And if not, you know you have more of a transition to work on.

  1. You haven’t allowed yourself to dream of what’s possible for you. Dreaming is not something that’s encouraged as a grown-up, and that needs to change. I think of it as a muscle, one that needs to be flexed often in order to really get clear on what you want for yourself, both big and small. Start by keeping track of your daydreams and notice any common threads. Then, work up to a few minutes of meditation or visualization every day and see what a difference it makes.

  1. Nothing feels like play. When I was little and my Dad would come home from work, we’d ask him about his day. More often than not, his response would be “It’s called work because it’s not play – but I guess I’ll go back tomorrow.” I obviously rebelled against all of that, and often feel like the vast majority of my work does feel like play for me. We do not have to buy in to the fact that work should live up to its name.

  1. You haven’t told anyone what you really want to do. It might be buried so deep that you haven’t even told yourself, but when you know what it is you really wanna do, you need to spread the word and ask for help. It’s tough to admit something so personal and scary, but things actually happen when you start articulating what you aspire to. It could make a world of difference in your current work environment, or lead you to (start) the company of your dreams!

  1. You don’t believe that your dream career is possible. Yes, it’s totally a hippy-dippy thing for me to say, but I strongly believe that the difference between those who live their dream career and those who don’t is just a small slice of optimism. Once you suspend your disbelief and start asking “What if…?”, you’ll notice the doors of possibility opening for you.

If you need help creating your dream career on the foundation of dreaming, exploring and playing, check out my class, Create Your Dream Career.

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Michelle Ward

Michelle Ward helps creative women get out of their soul-sucking jobs & into work that feels like play!