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Warning Signs You’re in the Wrong Job

By Nicole Kuklok-Waldman

TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday) is a popular expression because who doesn’t look forward to the weekend? Even if you are content in your line of work, most of us enjoy downtime away from the daily grind. It’s normal to feel the “Sunday Night Blues,” commonly known as the looming reminder that Monday is just a day away. According to a poll by the staffing company Monster, 78% of workers feel a sense of dread that the weekend is nearing an end and as many as 62% have reported feeling intense anxiety and sadness. If you are one of those people who feels sad on Sunday, there’s a good chance you are missing some other important warning signs that you’re in the wrong job.

Your Heart Isn’t In It

If you feel stuck in a position or an unfulfilling career you’ve probably lost the passion for your profession. Maybe you’ve been doing the same tasks for 20 years and you’ve outgrown the job. Or you’re no longer inspired or challenged by your responsibilities. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, only one-third of U.S. workers feel a high level of engagement, commitment, and productivity in their job. That means the majority of us are dissatisfied with our professional existence and would benefit from exploring more meaningful work.  

Your Job is Making You Sick

Hating your job can also make you sick. Stress and anxiety can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral problems. Listen to your doctor and your body. A demanding boss, an unmanageable workload, or tight deadlines can all take a toll on your physical and mental health. Struggling to deal with the pressure can lead to burnout which is the result of prolonged or chronic job stress. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted and less capable at work. 

Here are some symptoms you should keep an eye on:

• Insomnia

• Headaches

• Chronic body aches & pains

• Stomach pain or nausea 

• High blood pressure

Searching for Other Jobs

If you spend work hours scrolling job sites, contacting recruiters, or daydreaming about a different career, it’s time to make a change. You also run the risk that if your employer finds out you are job hunting on the clock, you might end up having an awkward conversation. There’s always a job that seems more exciting…but wishing you could be anywhere else aside from your cubicle is a strong indicator that you need to plan an exit strategy.    

Pushing Away Projects

If you’re stretched thin and overwhelmed you may feel compelled to say “no” to taking on more work. It’s hard to do your best when you have too much on your plate but pushing back on new projects or assignments can get you labeled as difficult to work with or not a team player. Before flat-out refusing, figure out how you can shift priorities or delegate other tasks to a junior staffer who wants to get more experience. If you find that the real reason why you are disinterested in the request is that it’s not exciting or engaging then it’s time to reassess what you would prefer doing and put a plan in place to work towards that goal.

Venting Frustrations to Co-Workers

An annoying colleague, a demanding client, or a petty inconvenience are all issues that may cause your blood to boil. But regularly complaining to your co-worker won’t help solve the problem and is destructive. If you are talking negatively about another co-worker or a supervisor on a regular basis, venting your frustrations can lower morale and your reputation. Negative energy is contagious and when an employee starts to air grievances with the group it can create a toxic work environment.

Feeling Morally Compromised 

Has your boss ever put you in an uncomfortable situation that you think is unethical?

If it becomes apparent that you are being asked to do something that makes you feel morally compromised, that is a huge red flag. There are many options when you are in this space, but often the easiest solution, if you are already miserable, is to leave the job for a better opportunity.

If any of these signs sound familiar, the next step is to commit to finding a career that provides more pleasure, fulfillment, and a sense of pride. It’s not easy to change jobs, especially if it’s not in your current field, but the benefits of doing the personal legwork to hone in on what makes you happy will pay off in spades.

Nicole Kuklok-Waldman is a legal expert in land use and entitlements who has worked on numerous regulatory approval processes required for different land uses across the region. Nicole is a lecturer at the University of Southern California, where she teaches Planning Law and Entitlement at the Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Lusk Center for Real Estate and has guest lectured at Temple University and UCLA School of Law. Nicole created a course called Lucky Lawyer that helps lawyers transition careers either within the law or to other professions. You can find Nicole on LinkedIn or Instagram.


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