Research shows us that 1/3 of our life is spent at work, that's over 90,000 hours. Given those statistics, it's safe to say that it's highly important to our overall well-being that we're in the right job.
We have a short window of time to make our mark on this world while at the same time finding happiness. At some point, we all complain about our jobs—and the grass can often feel greener somewhere else. But there’s a difference between job slump and being in the wrong career.
If you're asking yourself whether your job is right for you, here are some simple steps you can take to find out!
Signs You're Right for the Job
We're all wired the way we are wired, and the luckiest among us have found a way to spend our time, earn our living, and make that mark on the world in a job that allows us to use the natural gifts we were given. Here are some clear signs that you're on your chosen career path:
1. You Feel a Sense of Purpose
As millennials and Gen Z move into the workforce, more than ever, employees want to feel like their work is making an impact. In 2018, Glassdoor found that 50% of millennials would even accept a lower salary for a job that was more in line with their core values.
When employees feel their work has a social impact, they demonstrate greater levels of loyalty and dedication to their work.
For example, a well-respected neurologist with a thriving practice was often described as a brilliant, quiet, thoughtful man, but also as an introvert. But when one-on-one with a patient, joy lit up his face. Most people can't work on no sleep, with a Pop-Tart for dinner in-between emergency calls and worried family counting on them; it would send them over the edge. However, he’d sit down with his patient and feel purposeful, like he was exactly where he belonged. He would have never made it in a job where he couldn't interact with and help people.
Highly engaged employees know what they are playing for and what they will win, and they're willing to give everything they’ve got to achieve that success. With a sense of purpose, hard work is still hard. But it is also rewarding because you feel connected to the organization’s success.
Note to sales managers: Your sales reps motivation affects productivity, culture and the bottom line. Every day, they're overcome with many outside factors that influence their motivation. If you want to improve the success of your sales department, it’s time to make motivation a priority and ensure your people feel a sense of purpose. You can do this by:
- Setting goals
- Keeping them engaged and supporting the company mission
- Building trust
- Creating a culture of recognition
- Being creative
2. You Spend Most of Your Time Using Your Strengths, Not Your Weakness
We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. The key to job success is to identify your strengths and find a role that allows you to use those strengths every day. That’s because when your job calls on you to use your strengths on a regular basis, you feel strong. Even after a long, exhausting day, you still feel energized. On the other hand, when job success requires you to frequently use your weaknesses, you feel weak. Even though you may be able to get the tasks completed, they will likely take you longer than others and leave you feeling depleted.
If you align your strengths with your job, the fact that you have weaknesses becomes irrelevant. For example, it wouldn’t matter if Michael Phelps was a poor speller. Success in his career is not dependent on that ability. If you ever question the career decisions you've made, reevaluate your strengths and make sure they are aligned with your job responsibilities.
Identify the gifts you were born with and don’t get bogged down in the fact that you have weaknesses. And whatever you do, don’t spend time trying to become something that you’re not.
Note to sales managers: A successful manager must look to build on the strengths of those under them. At The Center for Sales Strategy (CSS), we teach that the best way to coach is to:
- Develop a person in their area of their strengths with coaching. training, etc.
- Identify workarounds for their weaknesses, so they don’t get in the way of their success
To improve effectiveness at hiring and evaluating sellers, most sales managers conduct a systematic sales talent assessment. Use these talent assessments to build on your team's strengths!
3. You Strive to Grow and Develop
Any Talent Analyst at CSS will tell you that if you spend your time doing what you're naturally good at, you will be more productive and happier. If you try to force yourself into a role that isn’t the right fit for you, it’s only a matter of time before you stop growing and find yourself overwhelmingly frustrated.
For example, a passionate realtor will tell you there is a chemical reaction that happens when working with clients and showing houses. It’s so strong that you can see it on their face. They absolutely love the work they do.
- They don't mind working weekends
- Dealing with totally stressed-out people
- Continually showing homes that meet all the criteria but just “aren’t right”
- Being on her feet all the time
Any good company will provide non-stop training and learning opportunities for employees to demonstrate that they are a priority. They will want you to increase your skill development, and in turn, you will want to grow and develop.
Note to sales managers: Training and development are the cornerstones for building an exceptional sales team. Provide your team with valuable sales meetings and continuous routes for professional training. Help improve their communication skills through a variety of content and classes and update them on the latest technology. Look for growth opportunities and always offer coaching and mentoring.
4. You Feel Comfortable Trusting Your Instincts
How many of you have doubted yourself or a decision you've made? We all have!
When you enjoy your job, you perform well. When you perform well, you feel good about the outcomes of your decisions, and you’ll experience small wins that continuously build and lead to increased confidence. You gain a new sense of trust in your instincts, and you're comfortable taking initiative, which leads to both professional and personal growth.
Note to sales managers: Measure your team's performance and encourage curiosity. They should never be afraid to ask difficult questions because they should know that even if the sale doesn’t come through, it won’t be due to a lack of information. To some degree, you hired your salespeople by trusting your instincts. Teach your team the same skills!
5. Work-Life Balance is Achievable
New projects excite you, your to-do list isn't daunting, and you genuinely look forward to your day —all are healthy signs that you're in the right career!
Work-life balance used to mean the ability to “turn off” work at 5:00 and “turn on” life. Lifestyle changes and advancements in technology over the last decade have redefined what work-life balance means to many people. This kind of balance now implies:
- More job flexibility
- Allowing people to drop off and pick up their kids from school
- Work from any location
- Schedule their work as they wish
Don’t confuse the desire for work-life balance with a desire to work less. When employees have autonomy over their schedules and lives, they also feel a greater commitment to the company and culture.
Note to sales managers: Whether they're traveling, on a call, or in a meeting, your sales reps work long hours. While they have a lot of flexibility in their jobs, this is not the same thing as balance. As a sales manager, it's your responsibility to help guide them and let them know you're there to help. Work with your team to create a schedule, encourage downtime, and train them on how to be more efficient at work. Ensure that you're fully staffed and maintain a strong talent bank when fully staffed so a seat does not remain open for long periods of time.
Is Your Job Right for You?
Based on some of these clear signs that you're on your chosen career path, ask yourself:
- Do you look forward to Mondays?
- Even if you go home from work tired, do you feel energized rather than depleted?
- Do you feel as though you learn quickly in your job and know how to apply what you’ve learned?
- Do you want to grow and develop more?
- Could you say you feel a true sense of purpose in what you do?
- When you tell people about work, does your face light up?
If you just uttered a string of yes’s, then you have certainly found a path to a job that calls for your natural talents!
If you cannot answer yes to most of the questions above, then you might consider how you can adjust your job or responsibilities to be a better match for your talents. While there will be parts of every job that become tedious or overwhelming, overall, when you're using your strengths, you feel strong and determined. Search for the right fit for your talents, and you're sure to increase your level of happiness.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.