Help! Am I in the wrong career? 15 questions & exercises to give you greater clarity

If you find yourself grappling with the topic of this blog post, then I realize you are likely feeling a mixture of confusion, doubt, and worry. I know this because I have walked in your shoes, navigating this question and doing a lot of soul-searching and research in the process. I have also worked with people from a variety of industries and backgrounds who were struggling with this very question.

Based on these experiences, I suggest that you carve out some uninterrupted time and space for yourself to give this some concentrated thought and reflection. I recommend the following questions and exercises to help you dig deeper into your feelings and gain a better understanding of what is causing your dissatisfaction.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but please consider it as a starting point to help you connect with your inner wisdom. Trust your own intuition as you are the best expert on your personal and professional situation, and be open to the process. Once you are open and receptive, you may find that you receive some answers and guidance from other sources – some that you may have never expected.

15 questions & exercises to give you greater clarity

  • How do you feel about the actual work you do/content of the job – for example, the skills you use, the subject matter, etc.?
  • Are there any parts of your job that you like or, at least, don’t hate? List them.
  • Is the problem the specific function of your current job? For example, you are realizing that management is not for you because you miss the actual work (the part of the work that originally attracted you to the field such as the technical work of an engineer or the creative work of a writer).
  • Do your workplace’s culture and values conflict with your own personal values? Are there things that really bother you – for example, make you very upset or very angry?
  • Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in with your team or company/organization? What is causing the biggest lack of fit or making you most uncomfortable?
  • Imagine using your skills and doing your current work for a different organization – perhaps one with a different mission. Can you imagine a setting where you would feel happier and more engaged? Describe this setting.
  • Looking back over your career/work experience, list those times and situations when you have been most content. What did they have in common?
  • Consider your why: Why do you work? Why did you choose your field? Are these reasons/needs being met by your current job?
  • Please write the following statement: ‘I think I am in the wrong career because…’ Next list everything that comes to mind for you, and keep writing until you can’t think of anything else. Were there any that really jumped out at you or seemed strongest?
  • What is your biggest fear? What thoughts and worries keep you up at night?
  • If there were no limits – anything was possible – and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you allow yourself to do?
  • Imagine your ideal day – a day when you would feel happy, relaxed, interested, and engaged. A day when you would enjoy what you were doing and how you were spending your time and energy. Consider elements of your personal life and your work life. What would your ideal day look and feel like?
  • Imagine you are at your 80th birthday party, surrounded by all the most important people in your life. As you all celebrate your life and look back on it together, what would you most hope to have accomplished in your life? In your work? What would you most regret not having done or accomplished?
  • Now that you have given this topic deeper thought, what insights have come to you? Did anything surprise you? As you review your responses, do any themes emerge?
  • Considering everything that has come up for you, what action will you take to move yourself forward? What will be your next, bite-sized step?

Did you find these techniques helpful? Do you have other ideas or suggestions? Any questions? If so, please share in the comments.

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