We tend to have one of three attitudes toward our work lives: we really dislike our jobs and know it; we are rather neutral about our work – it pays our bills, and that’s good enough; or we really enjoy our professional lives and know that we are in the right career.
Sometimes, however, the lines between neutrality and true enjoyment are rather gray. How do we know if we are really in the right career? How do we know if our dissatisfaction is because of our career choices, or just because of the specific role we hold or company we work for?
Here are some indicators that you might use to figure out whether or not you’re really in the right role or career:
1. How Do You Feel on Sunday Night?
This is a pretty big sign of how much you like your job. Do you find yourself growing depressed as Sunday night falls? Does the idea of getting up tomorrow morning leave you feel despondent?
If you feel reenergized and ready to go at the beginning of the work week, then your career and current job are probably a good fit for you. If, on the other hand, you look at the coming work with dread, then it’s time to ask yourself a few questions.
2. How Much Effort Do You Put Into Your Work?
When there are problems to be solved and challenges to surmount, what do you do? Do you dig in and get to work, or do you try to avoid the problem as much as possible? Do you stay late, if that’s what it takes, or do you leave without a care as soon as 5 PM comes around? If you have to stay late, do you resent it, or do you order dinner and get on with it?
If you don’t mind – or even actively enjoy – spending a little extra time and effort on work, then you’re probably in the right place.
3. How Do You Feel When You Get Up in the Morning?
We all have those mornings when it takes every ounce of determination to drag ourselves out of bed. But if it seems like every morning is one of those mornings, then something is probably wrong.
A person who is in the right career and in the right job will look forward to their day most of the time. They will want to get to work and make that proposal, run that meeting, or engage with their colleagues.
4. How Do You Talk About Your Job Outside of Work Hours?
When you go to social events or meet your friends for happy hour, what do you say about your job and your career? Do you talk about where your company is headed? Do you love discussing the projects you are working on? Do you talk about the opportunities open to you in your career and/or company? If you love talking positively about your work, then you are where you should be.
5. How Do You Behave at Work?
Are you always checking out Facebook during the day? Then you might be suffering from chronic avoidance or chronic boredom.
If you’re always avoiding work tasks, you need to figure out why. Are they too challenging for you? Are they just so tedious that you can’t force yourself to get started?
In either case, this is a strong clue that your current position is not right for you. It may be the organization for which you currently work, or it may be that the career field no longer holds the excitement that it once did. Whatever the case, you need to make some important decisions.
If, on the other hand, you find that you don’t have time to check your social media accounts because you are busy with other things during the day, then congratulations: You’re probably in the right career/role.
6. Do You Lose Track of Time?
When you are at work or even at home working on something job-related, are you surprised to see how much time has passed when you finally look up at the clock?
If this is a rather regular occurrence for you, then you’ve found your career “sweet spot.” When lose track of time, it is because we are fully engaged and doing something we genuinely enjoy.
7. How Do You Feel When You Go to Bed at Night?
Are you generally pleased with what you have accomplished on a given day? If so, you should feel pretty good as you drift off to sleep.
If, on the other hand, you are simply happy that another day has ended and that you have 6-7 hours of respite, then you are probably not happy at work.
8. Are You Willing and Able to Have Fun at Work?
People who are happy in their careers and in their jobs are more outgoing at work and engage in more interpersonal communication with their colleagues. This means that they participate in non-work related activities, both during the work day and outside of work. If you genuinely enjoy your colleagues and look forward to engaging in some fun with them, you are most likely in the right place.
9. Do You Think About Work a Lot When You’re Not There?
Whether or not this means your job is right for you depends on the kind of thinking you do. If your thinking is negative – if you replay conflicts with your boss or colleagues or you think about how unappreciated you are – then you need to move on.
If, on the other hand, your thinking about work is positive – if you’re always thinking about solutions to challenges you face or new ideas to help the business succeed – then you are probably in a good spot in your career and in your current position.
10. Are You a Little Scared?
You should be – if you are in the right career position, that is.
See, good careers and positions push you outside of your comfort zone, and that can be a bit of a scary place. But you don’t grow unless you do spend some time in scary situations.
The key question to ask yourself is: Do you have both the motivation and the discipline to learn what you need to learn and to take on challenges that will really stretch you? If your answer to this question is “Yes,” then your career is what it should be at this point. A little bit of fear can be a great motivator!
11. What’s Your Gratitude Level?
Do you feel grateful to have the career and job that you have? Do you look around at friends and family who complain about their jobs and feel happy that you don’t have those kinds of complaints? People who love what they do are grateful for the opportunity to do just that.
The answers to these eleven questions should give you some insight into your career and your career goals. There is something wonderful in knowing that you have chosen the right career and that your current position in that career is rewarding for you.
There is also something wonderful in realizing that you need to make some changes. Whether that means moving to another organization or changing careers entirely, making changes can bring us to new levels of happiness and fulfillment.