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ASK THE THERAPISTS: How do I know my job is a good fit?

Changing careers to boost happiness might seem scary, but the world is abundant, even in COVID times. 123RF
Changing careers to boost happiness might seem scary, but the world is abundant, even in COVID times. 123RF

With all this time off the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about my job and whether I should stay with it or try something else. I’m kind of afraid to change careers though. How do you know if your work is a good fit for you?


This is an important question we can all be asking ourselves, given that work fulfillment is a significant marker for overall happiness and mental health. After all, the average person spends over 40 hours a week at their job, adding up to around 2,100 hours a year! For most people, sticking with the same job for 25-30 years is a recipe for boredom.

COVID-19 has certainly brought many challenges, but one of the benefits is the gift of down time. I think it’s wise of you to be taking this time to reflect on the work you’re doing and assess your degree of contentment with it. I suggest you start by journaling about your ideal work. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? What is your work climate and environment? Your answers will give you a sense of how aligned your current work is to your ideal.

I would then ask yourself if you’re the type of person who appreciates predictability and consistency, or a person who needs new experiences and fresh challenges to feel engaged in their work. If you have a low appetite for risk, you might be suited to staying where you are. Requesting a slight pivot within the company may be all you need. You could also explore a move to another company but maintain the same position.

Too many people, however, spend their lives in humdrum jobs that don’t light a fire within them. This humdrum feeling spreads into their lives, affecting their mood, their relationships and their life satisfaction. If you’re feeling stuck in a job that is misaligned with your passion, reassure yourself that the world is abundant (yes, even in COVID times). There are a gazillion different jobs you could do AND you are worthy of spending your life doing work that lights you up. There is immense creative energy coursing through our veins, just waiting to be expressed.

Making changes in your career can be scary, but it can also be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. I have a few friends in midlife who recently exercised fierce courage by switching gears in their work life. Filled with uncertainty, they continued to step in the direction of their dreams and today they’re both in a happier place because of it.

If fear is standing in the way of you changing jobs to better suit your needs and desires, remember there are two different ways we can relate to fear:










Life is short, but it’s also too long to spend it doing work you resent or dislike. If there is discontent within you, you have a wonderful chance to do what makes your heart sing, so start exploring!


There is a concept in mental health circles that’s referred to as the shadow. This part of our psyche is composed of our deepest fears, concerns and insecurities. In our culture, we tend to deal with our shadow by living life at high speed in an attempt to avoid the pain at our core. In fact, many of us are so consumed with being busy that we don’t even realize how unhappy we really are.

There’s been a lot of downtime in the last few months, without access to the typical distractions like bars and restaurants that once kept the shadow at bay. The result? We find ourselves standing face to face with the raw truth of our lives. Sounds like your shadow is making an appearance, but don’t be alarmed, it may have something important to say.

I wonder if there is a voice that you’ve been silencing because it’s too inconvenient or frightening to hear? This COVID pause is actually a perfect time to be taking inventory of your life. You can start by asking yourself why you chose this career in the first place. Was it in response to an interest or passion or was it chosen to fulfill another’s approval?

If it wasn’t for your own interest, now is the time to consider a path that enthuses you. When I was a child my family wanted me to be a priest (puberty quickly put an end to that dream). Had I pursued the priesthood, I would have lived a very unhappy life because I thrive in partnership.

Next question, is your job simply a security blanket that pays the bills? If so, you can applaud yourself for being responsible enough to provide for yourself and perhaps your family. However, if it doesn’t give you the fulfillment you long for or the impact you wish to make, there is likely another job out there that will give you the same security but with more job satisfaction as well.

Now is a great time to follow your own passion and explore your options, because when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life!

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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