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6 Critical Signs You’re Targeting the Wrong Career

Published on May 5, 2019 12:00 AM EST
6 Critical Signs You're Targeting the Wrong Career

Pursuing the right career should be an easy and straightforward thing to do. Luckily most people nail it down, as studies show and choose the perfect job for them. But what happens when you don’t? Then you will be stuck in the wrong career, perhaps for the rest of your life, doing something you don’t even like.

In order for you to avoid this situation, here are 7 signs you are targeting the wrong career. This is the moment to judge your choices via the perspective they provide. If you can tick most of them off the list, you need to take a stand.

6 Critical Signs You're Targeting the Wrong Career

1. You’re trying to make come true dreams that are not your own

This is, probably, one the most common signs you are definitely on the wrong career path. Most of us, unfortunately, are encouraged even from infancy to pursue careers and dreams that do not belong to us. Many families have so called “career traditions” where all the men have to be lawyers or piano players or where all the women have to be ballerinas or doctors.

However, there are very few children who actually want to do these things. Most of them act upon these career paths so as not to disappoint their families, although they would much rather be doing something else. Parents often have a hard time understanding their children are not smaller versions of themselves. Also, families that are traditional in the career sense need to understand it’s impossible to pretend every single child born in that family will be a good lawyer or a brilliant piano player.

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2. You’re doing it for all the wrong reasons

Building on the above, there are other reasons why people choose the wrong career, apart from parents and families. Here are some of those reasons.

  • They think it’s cool – there are certain jobs chosen mainly for their “on trend” appeal. For example, after the TV show Mad Men became a hit, everyone wanted to be a copywriter, without knowing what that really entailed.
  • Because their friends are doing it – peer pressure works for job choices just like with anything else. When in highschool, students can often base their choices on group preferences rather than personal ones.
  • Because they haven’t spent enough time researching a career path for themselves – sometimes, people are not sure what they want to do. This is where research comes in. A good way to start is by thoroughly rereviewing, researching, and preparing your application.
  • Because they don’t want to “waste” their college degree once they’ve finished. Spending 4 years in college and then realizing you don’t actually want to work in that field is a harsh thing. However, there are two things you need to remember here. First of all, no college degree is ever “wasted”, because all that you have learned will definitely serve you well. And second of all, don’t dismiss your studies so fast.
    Research has shown that a good portion of college grads actually do work in their field of study. But they do it indirectly. Here is a very insightful analysis from that states -among graduates currently working, 51 percent said their job is related to their college major’. This means more than half and that is a stunning percentage. Therefore, don’t be so quick to cast your diploma aside. First, think about absolutely all the branches of your field you can work in.
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3. You are struggling in college

The first telltale sign that you have your mind set on the wrong career path appears early on in college. Normally, when you choose a college you should base that choice on your particular fields of interest. For example, if you have always been interested in dinosaurs, then you will choose paleontology. If you’ve been interested in anatomy, then medicine is for you.

Choosing your college based on your interests and affinities will have a major psychological impact on your studies. If you’re interested in a particular subject, you will find that it’s easy and pleasant to study it. You will be very good at it, understand all the inner workings and enjoy reading the field literature. You feel like you cannot wait to practice the job and you know college is what will make you good at it.

However, when you struggle in college, when you can’t understand the courses, and, even worse, when you fail them because they simply prove to be too much for you, this is the first sign that you are tracking the wrong career path.

4. You doubt you can do it

This particular sign is related to the above one from a psychological point of view. If you’re struggling in college, as shown above, then you will definitely feel like you will never be able to do the job. Building on one of the above examples, let’s say you’re studying medicine. If it’s not the right career path for you, you should be feeling extremely bad about your choice right now.

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Your attitude towards the field of matter should be fear that you will not be a good doctor or harm people rather than cure them. The perfect job should feel like your second nature. You should have an innate ability to do it and feel joy and excitement at practicing it rather than fear. This is why, if you have doubts such as these, you seriously need to reconsider your choice before you waste too much time on it.

5. Your head and your heart tell you two different things

When it comes to jobs, much like with everything else, always trust your heart. Indeed, as an adult, you have countless responsibilities that may not allow you to do that. However, when you are in high school or college and still have all of your choices ahead of you, use your heart rather than your rationality. You might think that a being an accountant is a very profitable job or that being a lawyer is glamorous. But none of that will matter if what you really want to do is paint. Doing what you hate every single day is one of people’s primary reasons for depression, as studies show.

The idea behind this is that, at first glance, people tend to go for material things. Money, a house, a nice car, coupled with job security and the idea that traditional jobs are the best. The problem arises several years later, when individuals realize none of those things matter anymore, because they still have to wake-up at 6 AM and spend 9 hours doing something they positively hate.

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Image courtesy of

6. You envy your friends and think their lives are better than yours

Needless to say, every man should build his own life in such a way that he is satisfied with what he or she has got. This includes material possessions, spouse, children, and your job. When you feel like everybody else is leading a better life than you are, that means a definitive part of your life is flawed.

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Most of the times, the reason behind that is a poorly chosen job. In this case, you need to stop and check yourself. What exactly seems to be missing from your life at this stage. What do your friends have that you don’t?

Usually, reaching the conclusion that everyone is happy but you and envying them for that is a condition that shouldn’t be bottled up. Therefore, here are a few tips to dealing with it:

  • Visit a psychologist’s office and talk about your feelings. He or she will help you get to the root of the problem;
  • Never jump to the worst-case scenario. Even if it turns out you made some wrong choices, you can always start over and be happy;
  • Accept that some people’s careers are not linear and that it’s perfectly fine to make some changes if need be;
  • Do not let it be a major discouragement for you. Your friends have been successful in finding their dream job and so will you.

Here are the top 5 telltale signs you are targeting the wrong career. Most of the times, people are able to tell with a certain ease if they are in the wrong business or not, because all these signs are straightforward. What’s really tricky is coming to terms with the fact that you might have made the wrong choice and having to deal with it.

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