5 Signs You Chose the Wrong Career


Have you ever wondered whether you chose the right career or not? If you have, then as someone who has tasted the exotic delights of banking, insurance and local government offices I can really sympathise with you.

We can all remember those early days at school when we were being pressured into choosing a career path that we we’re supposed to stick with for the rest of our days, who really knows what they want to do for the rest of their life at 16 anyway? Personally there was no way I was mentally prepared to make such a huge decision at such a young age and the steady procession of jobs that followed only backed up that feeling.

Thankfully I’m now working from home doing a job I love and I look back on those days with dismay, wondering why I wasted so much of my time. So, how do you work out if you are in the wrong career or not? Here are a few tell tale signs that a change may be on the cards.

  1. You Count the Days Until Retirement Age

I used to work beside a guy in the bank who was just wishing his life away day after day. That might sound dramatic but the chap was only about 35 and he had already worked out exactly how long was left until he could retire. If you are so unhappy in your work that you start looking ahead to retiring while you are still young then something is seriously wrong. Are you going to just hang in there for the next 20 odd years? That’s a long time to be doing something you dislike.

  1. You Are Always on the Lookout for a New Job

I went through a period of about 4 years in which I would read the job sections of the newspapers every week. This isn’t a great way to live. It’s fine being open to the idea of getting a better role but it shouldn’t be a constant in your life. Once you are in the right career you won’t need to hunt for jobs as much, if at all. However, if you are in the wrong career then you will always be looking for a new position. Even getting a pay rise or more responsibility won’t make you happier if the career is the wrong one in the first place.

  1. You Feel You Could Offer More

I had always wanted to do something creative like – hey! – write a blog post. Instead, I was stuck in dingy offices working out insurance premiums or looking at endless reports about current accounts. Sure, it was a way to make a living but I was bursting to do something more creative. In fact, enough time has now passed since then that I can admit to writing rubbish sit-com scripts while working in the bank. It was some sort of desperate attempt to discover what else I could offer to the world. I am now a lot happier that I work in something which lets me get creative on a daily basis.

  1. You Feel Stressed

I remember being told once that you feel most stressed when you don’t have things under you control. This is something which could happen if you are in the wrong career and aren’t performing as well as you would like to. For example, the most stressful job I ever had was probably the easiest. All I had to do was answer phone calls from insurance company customers all day. The problem was that I hated it with a passion and started to get really anxious and stressed about going in to work every day. Once I left that place I immediately felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.

  1. The Days Are Incredibly Long

I guess that most of you know the feeling of sitting at work and watching the hours pass by agonisingly slowly. We all know that clock watching is just about the worst thing you can do in this situation but it just can’t be helped, can it? Once I started doing a job I enjoyed more I discovered that the working days flew past far more quickly. If you’re working days seem never-ending then it might be time to think about making a change.

Did you choose the right career or do you sometimes wish you could turn back the clock?

21 Responses to 5 Signs You Chose the Wrong Career

  1. There’s always some amount of stress involved in a job, but I love the one about counting the days to retirement. I’ve always said, if you want to retire early, then you’ve made the wrong career choice.

  2. FI Pilgrim says:

    These are generally true, but so many kids come out of school these days expecting companies to work for them, instead of the other way around. I advise a lot of people to keep their head down and keep working until they figure out what they really want to do, instead of only looking at what they don’t want to do.

    These are definitely the signs to look for, but may need to be balanced with “what to look for in your dream job” or something like that. 🙂

  3. Truth be told, few people get their careers right from the get go, most of us have to experiment with various options before we settle on our dream careers. I think your post points out to some factors one might weigh in evaluating their current careers and I do second that statement that we feel stressed when things are not under control.
    Far and large I don’t regret many of the choices I have made in my career, I do believe though I can do and achieve more and am working towards that.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Ideally each career move helps you grow as a person and enrich your skill set, even if it just seems like a nightmare at the time.

  4. CF says:

    I’m always on the look out for a new/better job, but that’s more because I like seeing what’s out there and I like seeing if I can connect my friends with jobs. 🙂 I still like what I do.

  5. Totally picked the right career. Unfortunately, the right career ended up not having enough full-time jobs! I always wanted to be a teacher and graduated top of my class in college. But unfortunately, the market for first year teachers was so barren that only 1 out of 10 got a job the year I graduated. Now I’m too far out of the market to go back!

    • Robert Bell says:

      That must be a typical situation for a new teacher Michelle, as a friend recently told me something similar. It seems a real shame.

  6. I read that less than half of the graduates use their degrees, it is hard to choose one when you are only 18. I went to business school which provided a solid knowledge base for life but don’t use my degree as a professional. Thankfully it was free but otherwise quite a loss of time.

    • Robert Bell says:

      I don’t think anyone knows at 18 what they want to do with their lives and careers Pauline. In fact – to quote a song – some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t .

  7. I can’t even remember how many types of career I wanted to get into when I was younger. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and have since worked at jobs of various types until my current one. The hours disappear quick and I have no desire to retire early either. Plus, I’m good at what I do and I enjoy it too. The only draw back I can see is, why didn’t I see this years ago?

  8. I’ve had several jobs and tried different career paths. I think you really need to experience the job in order to find out whether or not you can see it as a career. A job description and a job interview can only tell you so much.

    I know the organization I work for encourages moving around, so I am always on the lookout for other opportunities within the organization.

    • Robert Bell says:

      I agree MtB. It can be tough to know whether something is right for you when you know little about it. Working for a big firm with different opportunities is a great move, as far as I am concerned

  9. Great post. I sometimes think that it’s too bad that so many high school students feel pressured to go to college/university right away. Sometimes it’s a good idea, but often when you are that age I think it is really hard to have a solid idea of what you want to do with the rest of your life. I think the ones who don’t know often wind up racking up the most student loan debt.

    • Robert Bell says:

      That’s right Dee. Not everyone is cut out for further education and they should feel free to follow their instincts

  10. Most of these don’t apply to me – I actually really like my career for the most part, but somethings the job itself (within the career) isn’t right.

  11. Robert Bell says:

    Good to hear Mike. At various points in my life I would have answered yes to most of them

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