What To Do When You Realize You Chose The Wrong Career

Wrong Way

Coming to the realization that you have chosen the wrong career can happen gradually or suddenly. This new found awareness may have been self-generated or the result of outside influences. Either way, there is no need to panic. Many, many people have had two or more careers during their lives. Through some investigative research and a bit of soul-searching, it is possible to discover and begin your ideal career path.

Who Decided What?

The first thing to do is identify the reason, or reasons, you are searching for greener grass. What was your original motivation to make a change? What prompted the redirection of your plans and goals? In other words, whose life-altering idea, or decision, was it? It is important to identify the origination and assess the corresponding positivity or negativity.

If it was your idea to walk away from the position you’ve held for years, then you are more likely to have a positive perspective. When your desire to change careers stems from reorganized priorities, new or expanded interests, an aspiration to make a difference, redefined goals or just plain boredom, you will begin the process with anticipation and excitement. Positively motivated changes tend to inspire confidence, increase energy and summon strength. Generally, you are going for it because you want to make the transition much more enjoyable and the success that much sweeter.

However, if your decision was forced due to a substantial cut in pay, mandatory relocation, changes at home, or being stuck in a dead end job, you may have feelings of anger, fear, betrayal or depression. Any such feelings will need to be explored and resolved. Seeking professional advice or spiritual guidance could be very helpful. Family members and friends, that have faced similar difficulties, may be able to offer beneficial assistance, also. With a strong support system, recognizing and accepting the necessity of choosing a new career and getting started, will be easier.

Dazed and Confused

Layoffs and job eliminations are often announced with little or no advance warning. Suddenly finding yourself unexpectedly unemployed can leave you dazed and confused. You were happy at work, perfectly satisfied. You had no immediate plans to change anything. Now, you are suddenly faced with numerous uncertainties. Or, perhaps you have recently caught yourself daydreaming frequently about reinventing yourself and realigning your life. You know you want and need a change. You are definitely going somewhere, but where?

Choosing a new career is an important decision. Examining your interests, values, skills, talents, limitations, specific needs and long term goals will reveal suitable occupational fields. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Career aptitude tests are available to facilitate the discovery process. The tests are designed to provide detailed information about your personality, interests, knowledge, abilities and more. The information can be very helpful with determining your new direction. Former professors, former employers, co-workers, friends and family members may be able to offer some valuable insight and helpful suggestions. Review the projected outlook and resiliency of occupations that appeal to you. With a little time and effort you will be able to discover your dream career.

Onward and Upward

Whether you were overcome with the urge to pursue a side-lined passion, move up in your current field, make the world a better place, explore unknown territory, or you were outsourced or downsized out of a job, be prepared to encounter a variety of challenges while blazing your new trail. Thoroughly researching fields of interest, considering career-specific pros and cons, and reviewing the availability and anticipated longevity of opportunities are essential steps toward selecting the perfect new career. Setting realistic short, intermediate and long term goals will pave the way for a successful transition and a rewarding future.

Consider the career paths of Ms. S. and Mr. W. After college, Ms. S. became a successful sales executive at a major corporation. She enjoyed traveling for work and the six figure income that she earned. In fact, her position offered many perks and great benefits. However, after getting a divorce and saying farewell to her twenties, she began to feel the need for some changes and improvements in her life. She thought a change of scenery might be nice and she desired a more meaningful career. As a young girl, she had dreamed of being a teacher when she grew up. So, Ms. S. enrolled in a few classes, obtained certification and became an elementary school teacher. Ms. S. moved to a city she loves and continues to enjoy teaching second grade, nearly fifteen years later.

And, Mr. W. served twenty years in the military. He had enlisted at an early age which presented him with an early retirement opportunity. Some people are perfectly suited for early retirement, playing lots of golf, doing hobbies and taking afternoon naps. Mr. W., however, was itching to go back to work after a few short years. A newly constructed, state-of-the-art, maximum security correctional facility presented the opportunity for Mr. W. to enter an interesting new field. Mr. W. celebrated a second retirement fifteen years later.

Preparation, diligence and commitment are three key elements for success. After choosing your new career path, focusing on these fundamental keys will prove invaluable. Preparation would include researching all aspects of the new career. Will you need to further your education, obtain new skills, complete an internship or attend a training program to meet the qualifications for your new occupation? If so, take action and begin the process as soon as possible.

Are you planning to start your own business? With any business venture, in addition to all of the planning, preparation and necessary setup tasks, you will need to take care of any legal requirements and responsibilities before opening day. To avoid unnecessary delays due to filing and processing, waiting periods, verifications and approvals, it is best to get those wheels in motion right away.

To ensure the smoothest transition possible, you must be diligent in your pursuit. Develop a plan, set goals, commit yourself and make it happen. Be prepared to face some challenges and obstacles along the way. Do not despair. Today, there are many government agencies, community centers, non-profit organizations and private companies that provide information and offer assistance to help you succeed. Also, the internet is a convenient resource for an expansive amount of information regarding the transition from the wrong career to the right one.

Own It

Obviously you can’t control everything, but it is your life. Basically, your future is in your hands. You can have the career and life of your dreams. Use knowledge, experience and confidence to brazenly move forward.

Wrong Way Photo Provided By: KungPaoCajun / CC BY

About Paul Chittenden

JobKaster Co-Founder & Resident Career Expert
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