12 Ways To Tell If Your Career Is Right For You

Because work is a major chunk of most people’s lives, actually enjoying it is kind of important. After all, not enjoying a good chunk of your life only leads to despair. And despair only leads to further decidedly un-lovely things. So you might want to sit down and engage in a little self-analysis to make sure you’re not on the road to unhappiness when it comes to your career.

  1. It suits your personality:

    Career experts constantly tout personality tests as an effective rubric for newbies seeking the right path and established employees looking to switch. But this move makes perfect sense. More analytical types likely won’t derive much enjoyment or success from a creative industry, whereas the ones who would thrive in such an environment would more than likely find repetitive, straightforward tasks a daily exercise in mind-shrinking psychological torture. In general, probably the best thing for your overall mental health (and, from there, physical health, the well-being of which can keep you from having to see doctors and nurses on a regular basis) involves exploring options proven to be great fits for your personality type. Exceptions exist, of course, because exceptions always exist.

  2. It offers some degree of flexibility:

    Employees without extenuating circumstances still experience emergencies and setbacks while on the job, and the right careers keep backup plans on hand when they arise. It’s perfectly understandable that some sport more rigid boundaries and requirements than others, of course. A nurse can’t work from home if his or her kid falls seriously ill at school the way an office-bound Internet writer could. Depending on the level of minor and major disasters that tend to crop up in your life, you might want to take flexibility into consideration when choosing a career.

  3. You researched it ahead of time:

    Just about the most moronic anything you could do for your career is not put forth any effort to actually research it before committing. Read. Talk to seasoned professionals. Read. Set up a meeting with a career counselor. Read some more. Unexpected twists and turns pop up no matter what industry you find yourself in, but day-to-day functioning will prove much easier to navigate if you research what all it involves ahead of time. Plenty of deal-breakers and deal-makers will pop up if you take the time to act like a responsible, attentive, thoughtful, and active adult instead of an impulsive, totally random pixie of a flibbertigibbet. That sort of behavior is only cute in movies, and even then its level of grating varies.

  4. It isn’t going to kill you:

    Unless you’re a daredevil or a hero, in which case a career that might kill you, like an underwater welder or a Robocop, is part of the fun. In general, though, a career causing your mind and body alike to start deteriorating due to stress or a hazardous environment might not prove a viable long-term fit. With ample stress comes multiple doctor visits.  Most people (and their loved ones) tend to like not suffering from chronic illnesses or getting injured or dying. After a while, that paycheck might prove poor compensation for a serious toll levied on overall wellness.

  5. It meets your needs:

    Beyond personality quirks, ideal careers need to suit other requirements. Money may not be everything, but earning enough to afford food, shelter, and medical assistance can still rank pretty high up there when it comes to establishing satisfaction with work and life. Employees with special needs or who work as caretakers for elderly parents, for example, should pursue careers willing to accommodate them, as ones unenthusiastic or unable to do so will only lead to further stress and strife. Some things require compromise, however. You might “need” several months of vacation time to get your Kerouac on, but most places probably won’t acquiesce to that. So try to parse a genuine need from a specific want before applying.

  6. It makes you happy:

    No matter if your passion involves flipping burgers (which, by the way, is fine, honest work wholly undeserving of its stigma) or sticking your hands in a bloody chest cavity to fix an at-risk heart, happiness and satisfaction play a part in defining whether a career works for you. Slogging into the restaurant, office, campus, or facility every day versus merely walking might be a sign that you’re not enjoying a significant component of your daily life. Which could, in turn, lead to a bout with depression that wreaks havoc on your overarching physical and mental health. Careers don’t have to be fun – few of them are, really – but they shouldn’t stir up a froth of dread, either.

  7. It’s not about pleasing anyone but you:

    There’s a difference between sincerely agreeing with Mom or Dad or Spouse that a specific career might prove a better fit for you and growing resigned with their demands to enter into a field they want to see you attempt. We suggest you learn it. While you have to consider numerous factors when selecting a particular professional path, apathetically trudging down one in particular because someone else said so shouldn’t be among them. Input and advice from your most trusted family and friends undeniably helps! But that doesn’t mean you need to automatically do as they say, either. Only you (and maybe your therapist if you have an amazing one) know what’s best for you.

  8. You fit in with the culture:

    Say, for example, you’re a devastatingly handsome Serbian super-genius scientist with a penchant for forward-thinking inventions, dashing mustaches, and celibacy. You probably wouldn’t find yourself terribly comfortable in a laboratory run by a Thomas Edison idolater. While more rebellious or determined individuals might love the idea of waltzing in and shaking up the establishment of their beloved industries, others prefer seeking out jobs where their own perspectives won’t wind up marginalized. A feeling of comfort and belonging stretches pretty far when it comes to finding a career that treats you right.

  9. You set goals and meet them:

    For the most part, workers like to feel productive, no matter their chosen career. While some are perfectly content with repetition and never moving forward “” and that’s their perfectly acceptable prerogative “” others gain confidence from setting realistic goals and accomplishing them. Then repeating the cycle. It might not necessarily lead to a promotion or a raise, but the positive emotions associated with challenging yourself and succeeding sometimes serves as its own reward. Careers embracing stagnation and closed off to improvement or change render it difficult to work your way up to attempting progressively larger goals.

  10. You’re not complaining outside of work:

    Your loved ones don’t mind listening to you fill family dinners or nights out drinkin’ with the occasional work-related rant “” and, if you’re a good loved one in kind, you don’t mind performing the same service for them. But most people can agree that nobody likes witnessing ostensibly pleasant gatherings getting almost completely hijacked because Tiffany just hates data entry so much. Still. If you’re not being “that guy,” you may have very well lucked out and scored a career that suits you.

  11. You get along with your coworkers:

    One can, of course, get along fine with coworkers within a career they find detestable. But a positive environment where the people around you exude safety and support is essential to long-term stability. Industries friendly to threatening, marginalizing, or ethically questionable individuals probably aren’t right or healthy for most workers out there. However, you do need to assess whether it’s simply your company or the career path as a whole that’s the real problem before deciding whether to walk away or avoid.

  12. You feel valued:

    We’re not espousing Randian entitlement issues here, because that’s socially irresponsible; we’re talking the simple joy and satisfaction that comes with doing a great job and receiving some degree of recognition for it. The right career will more than likely not make you feel like royalty or a special and unique snowflake (nor should it, really, because you’re more than likely not actually royalty or a special and unique snowflake), but it definitely respects your inherent humanity. Small compliments and gestures by contemporaries, superiors, and coworkers alike help alleviate some of the inevitable stresses and issues that populate every job.

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