Your Career: Is It Really for You?

In my short 23 years, I've had numerous jobs and interviews, more than anyone else I know, as a matter of fact. And I have to defend myself here and say most of the time I have kept my jobs for as long as I needed them. For example, supermarket shelf-stacking = nearly 4 years; digital media internship = 15 months; graduate job = 5 excruciatingly long months; call centre worker to fund gap year = 4 months. Often I have worked more than one job at a time (full-time working hours whilst doing my final undergraduate exams, perhaps not my best idea) but I feel my work endeavours have been the right ones, including when I needed to leave them behind.

Now, I am not a particularly flighty person when it comes to my professional life. I pride myself on being honest and dependable. But if I have an instinctively bad feeling about a job then I often do not pursue it. In the past, this bad feeling has stemmed from the knowledge of my own capabilities and other times it has been a choice for my wellbeing.

I once obtained a second internship doing digital media marketing, but after starting the work I realised quickly that what this particular small business needed was a website developer or designer. I was simply not it. And as much as I wanted it to work, I couldn't put in the hours that were needed for me to do this role competently. I was honest and subsequently left the job.

During my gap year, I had a trial at a farm doing horse and dog grooming. I loved dogs. But the thought of this job for 3 months filled me with dread. I didn't want to do it and so I didn't. I have also previously written on when I walked out of an interview for a possible second job I was planning to take on. The group interview consisted of utter nonsense and for minimum wage, I wasn't buying it. So I withdrew my application on the spot - even amidst a group of 8 or so other people - and pushed for overtime at my then current job.

With university commitments, rent and a poor economy which meant my permanent part-time job (that rarely provided overtime unless it was exam time, duh) was a privilege - I'll be honest and say it consistently evoked a feeling of financial instability. I always needed a job and I always made sure I had one. But one thing I rarely do for work is compromise my happiness. And this was particularly true when I walked away from my graduate job which, despite on a surface-level seeming perfect for me, beneath the practicality of the work my soul was withering away. I have no regrets about my decision.

Here is some simple guidance on whether your career is the right one for you:

If you wake up in the morning with dread and knots in your stomach at the thought of the day ahead, you're making a mistake by accepting this job as your life.

If your job debilitates your health and wellbeing in any way, you need to move on.

If you can't see a light ahead - whether that light be promotion, development or positive change - then it's probably because there isn't one.

If you ask the deepest part of your truest self, 'is this for me?' and the answer is 'no' then you know this path is not the one you seek.

But if you can see eventual change, positive growth, valuable networks, great possibility - and the commute to work doesn't contain the likelihood of you taking off into a distant place (for me, it was nearly Culzean Castle, but I managed the town's second roundabout before full-circling back to the office) - then you are doing something right.

I suppose most of a successful and happy working life is knowing when to settle, compromise and move on. Yet most of us have no trouble with the former two. It's knowing if something feeds you to get on with what you're doing and if you'll receive something worthy back in return. If this is the case, then carry on my friend because you won't regret the lessons it teaches you.