Would you take career advice from a 10-year-old?
How about a 14-year-old?
These questions may sound strange, but they are entirely appropriate when considering how we treat and navigate our careers. It's not uncommon to hear someone say that she's wanted to be a doctor since she was eight or a veterinarian since she was six. That elementary school child's dream then influences her adult professional life. But what happens when she decides that she doesn't want to follow that advice anymore? Or she questions whether it was good advice in the first place?
It takes a lot of courage to say "this career isn't for me," the amount of courage increasing the farther one has progressed into it. Not only is there a sense of personal failure associated with it but, depending on the profession, one could experience extreme blow-back from family and friends. For those struggling in a career that they made be very good at but they don't feel is right for them, keep these in mind:
It's okay to change: Whether you are a doctor, a saleswoman, an engineer, or an administrative assistant, if your career is no longer resonating with your values or who you want to be as a person, it is okay to find something new. Give yourself permission to believe this.
Your loved ones will act how they are supposed to act: When you get to the point that you are able to vocalize your intent to leave your career, those that care about you the most could react with everything from a "what the heck are you thinking?!" to a "you go get 'em, tiger!" Both reactions are exactly what they are: reactions. Whether the world is for you or against you, maintain the perspective that this decision is for you and will lead to a more satisfying life.
You may need help: If you know that your current career isn't for you but you don't know what to "do," don't hesitate to get some help. A career coach is a great resource to help you get in touch with the values you want to connect with in your career. Assessments such as the MBTI or the Strong Interest Inventory can give some guidance on how your natural interests and preferences align with vocations that are worth exploring.
Career changes can be difficult, but not as difficult as laboring in a field that you do not love. If you fall into this category, my thoughts are with you as you self-assess and explore what makes a fulfilling life for you. Your career road is for you and you alone to drive. You must enjoy the ride.