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WORK-LIFE BALANCE

5 Signs You're in the Wrong Profession

Just because you have a degree in something, it doesn't mean it's what you're meant to do.
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Having a certain degree or job title or being in a specific industry for several years (or even decades) doesn't mean you're stuck there. More and more people are having multiple careers these days, and it's ridiculous to assume that 18-year-olds know what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they choose a major. If you're not in the right profession, change it.

However, maybe you're just burned out and not really in the wrong career. Unfortunately, there's no actual test to tell you if you're in the perfect career or not--but there are signs. Maybe what was the right career 10 years ago just no longer aligns with your passions, interests, or where you want to be. Consider these signs that you're in the wrong profession, and take a close look at your professional life.

1. The work is nothing like what you studied.

Sometimes, studying a field and actually practicing it are two different things. Maybe it was the program at your university that you really loved, not the glimpse into the career. Perhaps the world of academia is more suited to you, and you should look into teaching rather than practicing. There are many ways studies don't translate to careers, so know when to recognize when this has happened.

2. You struggle just to stay mediocre.

Usually, people enjoy what they're good at. If you're not good at your profession, even though you work diligently and try to keep pace, maybe the real problem is that it's just not for you. This is particularly common in prestigious positions, such as physician or attorney. Sometimes, people get into a field for the wrong reason (such as the glory), when they neither enjoy it nor are they naturally skilled at it.

3. You don't love it.

Nobody loves what they do 100 percent of the time, but you should enjoy it at least 51 percent of the time. If you're not loving your field, and it's not just an issue with a particular job, that's a huge red flag. If you can't tell the difference between the two, try getting a new job in a similar vein but at a different company. You'll be able to tell which is which immediately.

4. You take a lot of sick days and can't wait for paid holidays.

Everyone looks forward to vacations, and who says no to a three-day weekend? However, if you're counting down the minutes to when you can go home and are desperately looking forward to President's Day because it's a day off for you, your priorities are out of whack. Maybe you're not lazy or a poor worker, but perhaps it's that you're in the wrong field.

5. You dread getting asked what you do.

It's the most common first-date and icebreaker conversation starter, but if you're internally rolling your eyes and trying to get past the subject right away, that's a sign you're unhappy.

Simply put, life's too short to be in the wrong job. Whether it's going back to school, interning, or job searching, make the decision to change things starting today.

IMAGE: Alamy
Last updated: Jul 30, 2014

DREW HENDRICKS | Columnist

Drew Hendricks is a tech, social-media, and environmental addict. He's written for many major publications, such as Forbes and Entrepreneur.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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