Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to be excellent at our jobs that we forget to monitor whether or not our happiness in our careers is keeping up with our growth and success. It’s not uncommon to look up after years in the same industry and realize that the career you’ve worked so hard at might not really be the absolute best place for you. This can happen for a lot of reasons: Perhaps it was something you truly loved when you were younger, but you’ve evolved into a person who just doesn’t have the heart for it anymore. Maybe the industry has morphed — as so many of them do — into something that just doesn’t fit you anymore. Maybe you simply don’t know. Here are a few questions you can pose to yourself to gauge whether or not you’re in the right profession for you:
1. You are excited to work
It’s very simple: People who love what they do don’t hate going to work. They might even look forward to it. The most successful entrepreneurs and small business owners are people who get a real rush or sense of fulfillment from what they do — it makes them want to work more, and work harder, and in the end, that’s the difference between achieving and flaking out. You’re always going to do better at a job you love. So think about how you feel — all rational thought aside — about going to work, and being there, and going home. Your gut is the best test of how well your career fits you.
2. You feel comfortable with more tasks than you struggle with
Even in the most perfect working life, you’re going to have items on your to-do list that drive you a little nuts. It’s like someone who loves having long hair but hates blow-drying it. But any life — and any job — is essentially a sum of its parts; if you end up dreading more parts of your day than you look forward to (or at least feel comfortable and confident performing), then you might not be in the best job for you. If, on the other hand, you feel energetic and well-equipped to execute most of the tasks in your workday, you’re likely right where you need to be.
3. You get along with people in your industry
You don’t have to be best friends with your co-workers in order to be completely satisfied with your professional life, but people who are in a line of work that is genuinely well-suited to them tend to at least get along easily with people who are involved in their industry — if you’re all passionate about what you’re doing, you have the kind of common ground that facilitates congenial relationships. If you find you can share mutual enthusiasm for industry topics with people — and maybe even enjoy networking events — it’s usually indicative that you are working in a world that fits you personally.
4. You would still choose to do what you’re doing
In a vacuum, given the option to freely choose to go in a completely different career direction, you would still opt to do what you’re doing. A lot of people end up on a particular career path not because it’s what they had dreamed of doing, but because they happened to have an opportunity, or it was a family business, or any other number of reasons that have little to do with personal desire. A certain degree of “grass is greener” fantasizing is normal for even the most professionally fulfilled among us, but if you find yourself constantly daydreaming of leaving your job to do something entirely different, you might want to assess if you’re truly happy doing what you’re doing.