How long does it take to realize that you are in the wrong job?

For me, it wasn’t so much a specific amount of time, but a shift in my daily approach to the work.

You see, I had a full-time job lined up at the bank, working as a Security Analyst, before I even graduated University. The contract was signed, sealed and delivered. My parents were thrilled and I was, if nothing else, relieved. The uncertainty many of us face leaving school can be a very scary thing, after all.

The job itself looked great on a resume. It was secure, it was practical and it made my parents proud. Unlike some work environments I had experienced in the past, I truly loved the team I worked with (as an added bonus). More importantly, the job allowed me to be financially independent, while living downtown in the city, as soon as I finished University, something which was very important to me. What more could I want, right?

The truth is, the job was never for me. I think I knew that all along really, as I had worked within that role as a summer student twice before. But I constantly urged myself to be grateful and I continued to do good work, as I had always done. Soon enough, a year had passed by. Yet, instead of feeling like I had accomplished much, I felt utterly stuck. I was in a rut. Nothing had changed, at least not in a positive way. The team felt like it was falling apart, the systems we were using were constantly failing, I wasn’t utilizing any of my best skill sets and I found myself slowly counting down the hours of each day. I had also assumed various other jobs including bartending at night, working as a freelance writer (as I always had) and a part-time content manager for a digital marketing agency. In my mind, I was hustling, but in reality I was constantly searching for something I wasn’t getting at my full-time job. I was feeling lost and as a result, I was taking on too much. I was setting myself up to burn out.

Within my last few months at the bank, I truly felt like I was hitting a wall. I didn’t have the motivation to grow within that role and honestly, didn’t feel there was opportunity for it. My work was fine but I wasn’t being the best I could be, likely because I didn’t see my future there. So when I received a full-time offer as a content manager, I was thrilled, yet a small voice within me still urged “Well, I can’t leave the bank, can I? This is so much more secure.”

Ultimately, leaving the bank was the best decision I could have made. That isn’t to say I am, in any way, ungrateful for my time there. As I said, it was a great job and for someone, it might be the perfect job. For me, I put my heart into my work and my heart simply wasn’t in it there. When I finally realized this, I realized that I was in the wrong job. I realized that I was selling myself short and that my perceptions of “security” were interfering with the opportunity for greater success doing something I was truly invested in. Something I could really be proud of.

Most of us will, at some point, struggle between the demands of remaining secure and practical, and doing what we love. While this is something we have to figure out on our own terms (with our own mistakes), I do believe the wrong job is the one which leaves you feeling uninspired and drained each day. I believe that it is possible to set yourself up for success within a career that, while still hard work of course, excites you on some level and allows you to grow, improve and thrive in some (or many) ways. Chase after the jobs you can put your heart into, and the hard work won’t feel so much like a chore, but an evolving passion.

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