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How To Find Your Calling When You’re Stuck In A Job You Hate

It’s the million-dollar question of adulthood: How do you figure out what you want to do with your life? These steps will get you closer.

How To Find Your Calling When You’re Stuck In A Job You Hate
[Photo: Flickr user Morgan]

When 15% of U.S. workers detest their job, what’s holding them back from finding what they love to do?

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Certified career coach Cheryl Palmer says that the perfect career is one that taps into your passions, but is also viable in the future. That’s easier said than done, especially if you have a multitude of passionate interests–or none.

Ask yourself these questions when you’re trying to find a new path.

What Clues Are Right In Front Of Me?

Uncovering your calling begins with looking at your current strengths and hobbies.

The flip side of your weaknesses reveals strengths you might not recognize immediately, Palmer says. If you’re chronically disorganized, a work environment that embraces chaotic creativity is a better fit than a traditional office culture. If sitting in an office all day drives you mad, you can narrow the scope to jobs that let you be active throughout the day.

What you excel in is likely also what you’re drawn to after hours. What kind of work would you do for free? Dabble in a variety of volunteer or freelance gigs with low commitment if you’re unsure where to start.

Is My Skin Thick Enough?

With a résumé that includes entrepreneur, columnist, best-selling author, inventor, and professional wrestler, if anyone understands the job-hopper’s dilemma, Richie Frieman does. “Finding what you really love to do, or your calling, is absolutely not a myth,” he says. “It happens all the time. . . . However, the biggest problems are the immediate expectations of those callings, and of what people deem as success.”

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Frieman found his calling–or multiple callings–through patience and a lot of rejection. No one will welcome you into their industry inner circle or hand you the role of a lifetime because you’re passionate. “Dreams happen overnight,” he says. “However, living your dream takes many sleepless ones.”

Have I Talked To The Right People?

Informational interviews, Palmer says, aren’t just networking essentials but a step in the research process of confirming your passions. “Once you have narrowed your options to a few possible careers, set up appointments with individuals in those fields to talk to them about what they do,” she says.

“You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you out if you simply ask,” says Frieman. “Not everyone lives in an ivory tower, unwilling to give you 10 minutes of their time. People respect someone’s willingness to learn about their craft. And every time you do this, you’re making a connection for the future.”

How Do I Know When To Quit?

You’re part of that 15%, hating every minute of your job. You’ve found the field of your dreams, but this miserable job is a rung on your career ladder; when does it become worth quitting to save your sanity?

“You don’t have to hate your field just because you hate your job. But if that hate is consuming every single part of your outside life, you have to find another path,” Frieman says. “No job, regardless of money, is worth making your personal life a living hell.”

Before bailing out, he advises taking a look around at your options. The tunnel-vision resignation to a career that pays the bills but makes the rest of your life miserable isn’t worth sticking around until retirement in 30 years. Small steps in networking, research, and reaching out to others is the beginning. “When you start to search for what you want, you’ll start to get the itch to make the leap, and now you’ll have the confidence to do so.”

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About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.

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