Discovering what you want to do in life is, for many people, a life-long pursuit. From the time you graduate college you start asking yourself what career would best suit your interests and skills, but often you choose something different than your instinctual response to that question, either out of necessity or concern for security.
Maybe you want to be a musician, for example, but doubt your ability or are intimidated by the odds of success, so you take a job working in the corporate world.
While decisions that take you on a more secure path provide you with the staples of comfortable living and give you some peace of mind in regular work, if you aren’t working a job that is aligned with your passion, it is very unlikely that you will feel fulfilled or truly happy with your life.
A recent study has found that at least 65% of Americans are dissatisfied with their current occupation. And while part of that figure stems from the state of the economy, a larger portion of that percentage represents people who simply are uninterested, uninspired, and unfulfilled by their jobs.
Don’t live unhappily.
If you are dissatisfied with your current job, even if it provides you with a reasonable level of security, consider the following strategies to help you find more rewarding work:
Take inventory of your interests.
Unhappiness in one job is often coupled with confusion about what could serve as a more fulfilling substitute. If you’ve been working in one job (or one field) for so long that you don’t remember what you are passionate about, or if you haven’t yet given it much thought, it’s probably time to start searching yourself for the things that get you fired up. Use your past dreams as clues: What did you imagine yourself doing before you started in the grind? Start paying attention to things that excite you while you do them. Brainstorm ideas of careers that center around things you really like.
Forget about the pay.
Chances are you chose the job you’re currently working based on pay more than anything else, and that decision is now burdening you. Focus on your interests and your passions, even if they seem farfetched; doing something you love will make you happier than being paid for doing something you hate.
More on this at 5 Reasons You Should Never Work for Money.
Take career assessments.
If you have trouble choosing from the many kinds of jobs out there, consider career tests to help steer you in the right direction. These tests are designed to give you an idea of your aptitudes and what kinds of jobs would be most satisfying to you. The results can be surprising, and can often lead to careers you might not have considered otherwise, but can bring you the happiness you wouldn’t have expected.
Check out the Top 5 Psychometric Tests for Your Career Success.
Investigate specific jobs.
Once you have an idea of what might be a fulfilling alternative to your current job, do some research about that job to find out what changes you’d have to make to work in that field, and to give you an idea of any training you might need. Pay attention to average salaries in that job, but don’t give that too much weight. Remember that you can always scale back. Being happy is not the same as being rich.
Talk to current professionals.
Conducting your own research is good, but if you want the best perspective on a prospective job, interview someone who has that job and find out the pros and cons from someone who has experience. They will be better able to give you an idea of what to expect than any statistic can.
Finding out what career will be a rewarding one for you can be daunting, but can also bring more happiness into your life. Once you’ve decided on a path, start developing any skills that you’ll need for that job that you might not have, and then get out there and chase your dream so you can live happily.
Further reading on this topic at 12 Kickass Ways to Love Your Job and Life.
Author: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer with onlinedegrees.org. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees, etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.