Do you ever feel you’ve wasted years in all the wrong jobs? The bad news is you can’t get those years back. The good part is it was not all in vain.
Job experience is seldom wasted
If you feel you’ve mindlessly pulled someone else’s plough for years and think you’ve got nothing to show for it but sores, think again. Take writing, for example.
- Suppose you’d started writing early on – you might to this day struggle with all the non-writing tasks you’re no good at that take ages…
- Or suppose you’ve been stuck doing administrative work for ages but you’d really like to make writing a big(ger) part of your career. By now you’ve learned how to deal must-do tasks efficiently. More time for writing! Provided you can agree at some point with your employer that any time you have left is for writing, not for doing everybody else’s chores 😉
Every job can teach you about your ideal career
Sometimes you need to learn the hard way what doesn’t work for you. I enjoy sharing my experiences and thoughts about online content, blogging, how organizations work, career switches. But I once thought I might teach stuff to classes full of teens. Metaphorical bumps and bruises taught me that was not the way to go.
Every job you’ve had shows you what you like – and what you don’t like. There are tasks you like, tasks you don’t mind doing, and tasks you have come to loathe. If something isn’t for you, you’ll feel it’s wrong for you – sickeningly wrong.
What if your career has taught you only what you don’t like?
If you love to write, and your career hasn’t yielded opportunities to do what you love, you may well have started a blog just like I did.
- Blogging involves actions you love and actions you’d rather leave out. And bits that are annoying because you lack time to do them well.
- Or perhaps you blog to share your passion for… gardening. Baking pies. Writing code. Teaching kids how to groom a horse.
- Or your blog is a place where you can ‘meet’ and help other people.
Maybe you don’t have a blog, but you’re doing one or more of these things whenever you can find the time, and even when you don’t have time… your unofficial career.
You may be inching closer to your ideal career right now.
What with your job experience, and the activities that are as natural to you as breathing, you may be less than 20% short for a job you’d love.
You’ve got the experience. Now you need to find a job that pays you for doing what you can’t help doing.
Your biggest challenge is to recognize jobs that will get you closer to the career you’re looking for. Perfection is impossible, and you don’t need a ‘dream job’. You just need to get close enough to your ideal career to be able to see it on a clear day.
Your post has definitely struck a chord with me!
I must admit when I started my career, I thought I had it all mapped out. I wanted a career as a Marine Biologist…. I did not realise that meant repeating the same test and experiments thousands of times before making a small advancement. To put it mildly I was bored! Years later and I’m happy working as a leader and a trainer in a large manufacturing company. Not exactly what I expected, but very very fulfilling.
The wrong job can teach you so much about what you do want. I learned who I am, where I am going and what I really need and want along the way. I realised that I believed in people, in development and in creativity. Now no two days of my life are the same. I wouldn’t have found what I have now without taking the wrong path a few times first. It’s amazing how many people I know have had a similar experience.
Thanks for the trip back through memory lane!
You’re right – it is amazing how often this happens. And that’s fine, because we learn so much from the experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience with a ‘wrong job’!
I’m still aching for a job I would enjoy, alas alas. It’s painful!
That comment by the marine biologist is interesting. I never realised…
It’s weird isn’t it, people getting what they thought of as their dream job and finding it … Boring. Or not what they expected at all.
Maybe it’s better to treat every job as an experiment to learn from? I’ve never consciously done so myself 😉