What to do when you realize you’ve chosen the wrong career

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IN the past, some parents used to choose careers for their children. For some people, having to follow their parents' wishes worked out for them and they went on to have successful and fulfilling careers. However, there are others who are now stuck in jobs they don't love simply because they wanted to please other people. Move! spoke to experts about what to do when you realise that you’ve chosen the wrong career.


Marion le Roux, an educational psychologist, says for an individual to even choose a career, you should first make sure that you know what your passion and interests are. You should find out what you enjoy doing and what you are good at, and see if your personality is suited for the career path you want to take. Marion says you can find out what you are passionate about through:

¦ Going for career guidance or counselling.

¦ Doing online tests and filling questionnaires to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are.

¦ Speaking to people in different fields and asking them about the pros and cons of their jobs.


Kim Elliot, student affairs manager at IQ Academy, says there are signs that people display when they realise that they have chosen the wrong career.  “We instinctively feel comfortable and inspired when we are using our strengths. To work against them feels unnatural and draining. There will always be highlights and lowlights within any job, but if you are struggling to perform your daily tasks and to get through each day, you may well have chosen the wrong career,” she says. Marion adds that other signs include:

¦ Dreading to go to work and not wanting to get up in the morning.

¦ Feeling overwhelmed and lost during the day.

¦ Not being able to do what is required of you  and feeling frustrated.

¦ Having constant feelings of failure.

¦ Boredom and lack of interest in what you are doing.

¦ Always taking time off work even when you don't need to. However, she says that a person can overcome this by taking lessons from the ‘wrong’ career and moving towards a new direction. “But you don’t have to just drop everything and leave your current job. Start looking for new opportunities, new direction, and other possibilities once you become aware of the change you want to make," she advises.


Marion says when you realise that you are in the wrong career you should:

¦ Give yourself enough time to make the change. You don’t have to drop everything just to be unemployed. Even if it's difficult to wake up in the morning and go to work, keep going until you find something better.

¦ Make sure that every step you take or decision you make takes you closer to your new goal.

¦ Do research and find information about what else you can do.


Kim says making a career change is a big decision but anyone can do it. “Even if you are a breadwinner, you can change a career but you must do it strategically. Don’t be too impulsive. Do your research and plan the change carefully. “It’s important to find a new career that can support you and it would be great if you are able to use your transferable skills so that you can build from where you are. Look at building your new career whilst you are still earning an income. A great way to do this is by volunteering or working on your new career part-time.” She further says that a career change does not have an age limit. “Changing a career earlier in life is, of course, easier but there are many success stories of those who make this brave choice later,” she shares. Marion also adds that there are advantages and disadvantages of making a career change. 


The advantage of making a career change is that you will finally be doing what you love and what you are good at. This will make your life better  and hopefully bring you more success. However, there are also disadvantages when you change your career. This move is risky and you will have to take a leap of faith and believe that you can do it and be successful. This brings along feelings of insecurity, but if you keep going in the right direction, it will be worth the risk at the end of it all. It can also be costly if you have to pay for a new degree or different training.

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