These surprising signs might be indicators you’re in a job that isn’t aligned with your purpose. Here’s why it isn’t too late to find a fulfilling career!
I thought I made the right career choice, but this job is making me miserable… How to find a fulfilling career now?
Is it even possible to find a fulfilling, meaningful career? Or should I just be grateful I have any job at all?
Is it too late, too impractical, or too irresponsible to make a career change now?
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if you’ve chosen the right career path, you’re not alone!
In fact, in 2022, 60% of people reported being disengaged and unhappy in their jobs. A shocking 19% of those indicating that they were more than just unhappy, they were miserable! (Gallup, 2022 Report)
But what do most people end up doing with those feelings?
- Ignore them and try to drown their feelings with even more work, television, alcohol, or social media
- Tell themselves they should just be grateful for the job they have, no matter how miserable it makes them
- Focus on everyone else’s needs- kids, their spouses, their family- as a way of distracting them from the discomfort of their own
- Fall into the trap of believing that they just need a raise, a different boss, or another promotion to feel better. (The problem is, this never works long-term)
- Convince themselves it’s too hard, too late, or too irresponsible to start a new career. This is like refusing to right a mistake just because you’ve been making it for so long
The problem is, most people don’t understand how to find a fulfilling career.
So even if they do get brave enough to search for new job opportunities or move out of their current role, they usually end up with the same feelings of dissatisfaction they started with!
Most traditional career advice tells us that job satisfaction comes from higher pay, less stress, and future job security.
And while those things are important, they aren’t the most important factors when it comes to the most fulfilling jobs!
Based on that exact criteria, a major career assessment company identified the top careers in 2021. Can you guess what they were?
- Data Scientist
- Genetic Counselor
All three of those jobs have the “right” balance of future job security, day-to-day responsibilities that aren’t too stressful, and competitive pay.
I’m not sure about you, but I know I am not called to be a data scientist or a statistician! And no matter how good those jobs were, I probably wouldn’t feel fulfilled or satisfied doing them every day.
When we try to measure career fulfillment in terms of job statistics like pay and ease alone, we miss the most important aspects of our life’s work that can lead to a true sense of fulfillment.
No matter how low-stress or high-pay a career may be, if it isn’t aligned with what we’re called to do, we’ll likely still end up with that deep sense of dissatisfaction that, to some of us, is all too familiar already.
The good news is, decades of research have simplified true career fulfillment and job satisfaction into 6 specific elements!
But, before we reveal that list, here are five signs your current career might not be right for you:
5 Signs You’re in the Wrong Career (and it might be time to find a fulfilling career)
1. Your current career doesn’t align with your core values.
Most people tolerate careers they don’t love because the job is “good enough.” It pays the bills, offers them a small sense of security, and typically doesn’t offend their personal values.
But here’s the challenge: As you consider whether or not your career is a good fit for you, I don’t want you to ask yourself if your current job offends, disregards, or works against your values. Instead, I want you to ask yourself if your current career actively aligns with and supports your most deeply held values.
Your values are the things you believe to be of the highest priority in life.
To help you identify yours, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What would I get to be, do, or experience in my dream job? What things are important to me that would make that kind of work ideal for me?
- How do I want to feel in my life and in my career? What kind of priorities would help make feeling that way more possible?
- Who inspires me most? What do they believe are the most important things in life?
- What is it most important for me to be, do, or experience before I die?
- What makes me feel best? Happiest? Most proud?
Identifying and defining your core values is a starting point. From there, recognize that all parts of your life, including your career, can align with and amplify your most important values.
2. You don’t get to do the things you’re best at
Your current position might not be the best fit for you if it doesn’t leverage your natural skills and strengths. Many people settle for and stay at jobs where they’re able to fulfill the requisite skills for employment. They then end up feeling stagnant and frustrated as time passes.
The type of work you’re meant to do will allow you to use your natural talents, amplify your strengths, and help you lean into your true passion.
Identifying your best career doesn’t solely depend on whether or not you can fulfill the requirements of the job. It also depends on whether the requirements of the job represent work that lets you spend as much time as possible doing things you’re genuinely good at.
Doing work you’re good at will help you feel energized and motivated, as well as create a career that becomes a source of joy and passion!
3. Your career doesn’t offer the opportunity to grow and develop your natural gifts
When it comes to making the right choice for you about your current position or your next job, consider whether or not you have ample opportunity and support to learn new skills and to develop your gifts and talents.
A fulfilling career will encourage and support you in taking your natural abilities to the next level. You will be free to pursue education and training, mentorship, and support that helps you grow.
Your career- whether you work for a corporation, a small business, or as an entrepreneur- should invest in you and empower you to invest in yourself.
If your current position doesn’t prioritize the time, resources, and support for your professional and personal development, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on in your career journey.
4. You feel bad more often than you feel good
If you’ve wondered how to find a fulfilling career, ask yourself this: When you think about the time you spend at work on a daily basis, do you spend more time feeling bad than you do feeling good?
A career that is fulfilling should also be full of good things and positive experiences. That isn’t to say you won’t have a bad, stressful, or challenging day (or even week) now and again, but you deserve a professional life that leaves you feeling good more often than bad.
As you explore your next steps, remember that oftentimes, the easiest way to move toward a job that feels good is to focus on new opportunities that have an absence of the things you know you don’t like or add to your stress. This can be especially helpful if your past roles have also felt primarily stressful or negative.
These might include:
- a long commute
- unfair pay
- a lack of work-life balance
- a dysfunctional or unsupportive work environment
- ineffective leadership
- a lack of recognition for hard work and achievement
If your primary emotions around your job tend to be stress, frustration, anxiety, or even anger (and especially if you have a hard time keeping those feelings from affecting your entire life), you might not be in the right role.
5. Your career doesn’t make a difference or feel meaningful
Finding meaning in your work is one of the highest indicators of long-term fulfillment and happiness in your professional life.
If you don’t feel like your current career or job position:
- makes a meaningful impact on other people or the world
- makes a contribution or leaves a legacy that is important to you
- supports your sense of calling or what you believe you’re meant to do with your life
- helps others (directly or indirectly)
- has a positive impact on the needs of the world or can help future generations
Then research shows that it is far less likely to feel fulfilling. In fact, those who do work that they believe is meaningful report significantly higher rates of life satisfaction, not just work satisfaction!
Your ideal career, and the one in which you are most likely to experience fulfillment, will support your sense of purpose. It will help you feel like you are making a meaningful contribution to something greater than yourself.
What to Do Next: Discover Your Life’s “Meaningful Work” to Find a Fulfilling Career
If you believe your current career doesn’t represent the most aligned work for you, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or even discouraged about what to do next.
Just remember- it’s never too late to explore new opportunities. You CAN create a life of greater purpose, or make positive changes to your professional life.
Many people stay stuck in careers that aren’t fulfilling because of a fear of change, concerns about financial security, or worry about the impact a professional change might have on their personal lives.
The truth is- when we’re able to spend our time doing meaningful work that feels fulfilling, aligned, and life-giving, the positive impact can’t help but spill over into our day-to-day life!
But, where do you even start? How do you know what kind of career will be fulfilling?
A great place to start is with the PERMA theory.
The PERMA theory was developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology. It summarizes the most important factors to achieve fulfillment:
- Positive Emotion: Daily experiences of feelings like happiness, hope, interest, joy, pride, and gratitude
- Engagement: A feeling of flow and the absorption in experiences that are challenging and utilize one’s strengths
- Relationships: Connections in which you feels supported and valued
- Meaning: Belonging to or serving something greater than yourself
- Achievement: Working toward and achieving goals and experiencing self-improvement and self-mastery
Seligman suggests that a meaningful life comes from “knowing your highest strengths and using them in service of something larger than [yourself].” The most fulfilling jobs and the most rewarding careers will follow the same guidelines.
If you’re really honest with yourself, how well does your current position fulfill the PERMA model?
Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at how your career is impacting you… and the rest of your life.
Imagine yourself a year from now. You’ve learned how to find a fulfilling career. Your work is engaging and meaningful, full of positive emotions, healthy relationships, and ample opportunity for achievement.
Ask yourself: What would be different about your life? How will your relationships have changed? What job perks and benefits do you have that you don’t have now? How do you feel on a day-to-day basis? How do you spend your free time?
The life you’re imagining is absolutely possible for you!
Could a Life Coaching Help You Find a Fulfilling Career?
It might sound too good to be true, but a career that feels fulfilling and amplifies your whole life satisfaction is something we’ve helped thousands of people achieve by becoming life coaches.
The coaches we train at Brave Thinking Institute often come to us from other careers wondering how to find a fulfilling career. They often wonder if it’s even possible for them.
And in just 6 months, they’re excitedly building new careers and businesses as fully certified life coaches:
- Doing work they’re happy and proud to do
- Building a career based on their unique strengths and higher purpose
- Connected to a thriving, supportive community of coaches and mentors
- Giving back and helping others improve their lives in profound, meaningful ways
- And astounding themselves as they accomplish new goals and achieve new levels of success they never thought possible
Life coaching = Career PERMA!
We know that life coaching isn’t the only way to create a fulfilling career. But for those who have a sense that they’re called to do more in the world, meant to help others, or have a greater purpose to fulfill, it can be an amazing opportunity.
They benefit from joining a fast-growing career field, often replacing their income with more time and location freedom, and a sense of satisfaction that can only be found doing work that aligns with their purpose in life.
If that sounds like you, I have a special invitation for you that will help you gain clear insight on whether or not life coaching might be aligned with your unique, spiritual design: Access my free mini-series here!