You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at in your career. You studied, hustled and sweat to advance in your profession. Yet, you may have a nagging or even shameful feeling of unhappiness. The likely source? Lack of career fulfillment.

The feeling you’re experiencing may be dull and obscure, but lack of career fulfillment could be the exact pinpoint of your emotions.

The definition of fulfillment is “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.”

Now, if all you desired, were promised or predicted from your career was a paycheck, then you probably won’t have any problems here.

Yet you’re here, at Writing From Nowhere, trying to understand if you’ve found enough career fulfillment or if you’re on the wrong path. I reckon you wanted something more.

Something like…

… the feeling that what you do all day makes a difference.

… an answer to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up.”

… an understanding of what your calling is in life.

In case society has made you doubt it, let’s get it out in the open right now: the feelings that you ought to enjoy your career, have passion or, dare I say, even have fun, in your work are not frivolous. Career fulfillment is the goal, not a distraction.

silhouet of a person with a surfboard walking on the beach at sunset

Introduction To Career Fulfillment: How To Know If Your Career Isn’t A Good Match

Being unsatisfied with your job isn’t necessarily an indicator that your career itself is a wash. Start thinking about all of the other factors and hows they impact you: it could be that specific industry, position or team that’s causing you to question your career fulfillment.

Still, having a job that makes you feel motivated and provides you with benefits to improve your wellbeing is important.

Don’t brush off worries about career fulfillment: stress and unhappiness at work can affect your happiness in all areas of life.

If your current job makes you wonder if you are in the right place, here are some clear signs that will tell you if your career isn’t a good match.

Note from Kayla: This is the first-ever guest post on Writing From Nowhere! This piece was a collaboration with Artur Meyster. He’s the founder of Career Karma, and you’ll see links to his company sprinkled about in this post.

Career Fulfillment: 8 Signals That Your Career Isn’t A Good Match

pinterest pin how to know when your career isn't a good match

1. You Can’t Find Inspiration At Work Anymore

Many people land a job that looks like the job they have always wanted. But, in a couple of days or weeks, their inspiration has dissolved.

Friends will check in, asking “how’s your awesome new job going,” but the shine has already completely worn off.

If you can’t find inspiration at work, something will need to change or ultimately your work and energy will suffer.

This isn’t bad just for employees: it’s also a sign of decay for those managing teams. When employees lose motivation and can’t find inspiration or vigor for their tasks, they can’t offer their best work.

Tenacity turns into apathy. Initiative and quality become a nightmare.

Speak with your boss and express how you feel. If you’re not feeling decisive about leaving, try to find a solution to your lack of career fulfillment in this position before looking for a new job.

Perhaps you can ask for a new position in another area of the company that can bring that spark back. However, if your boss resists your effort to find more career fulfillment, it may be time to look for something else.

2. Your Daily Tasks Frustrate Or Bore You

Can you complete this sentence at the drop of a hat?

“If I have to _______ for one more week, I’m going to lose my mind.”

Was there an answer was at the tip of your tongue? The source of your lack of career fulfillment may lie within your daily tasks.

Sometimes, work-life can become monotonous. Doing the same tasks on repeat can make you feel frustrated.

Repetitive tasks affect not only workers’ motivation but also their mental health. Hence, you should get a job that allows you to try new things and use your best skills. For example, imagine a full-stack developer working in a production line.

The position may indeed be a great job, but as they can’t use their coding skills, they may be unable to compete with other developers. Also, production line operators often deal with repetitive tasks.

Consequently, many companies have introduced robots in their production processes. (source)

Would you happily hand over your post to a robot and go find something else? If the answer is yes, you have some job searching to do.

holding a steaming cup on a balcony

3. Your Morning Coffee Is The Only Thing You Look Forward To

To those who don’t experience or notice any lack of career fulfillment, this may sound whimsical. But we see you – the rest of you in the back who feel this to their core.

There may even be feelings of guilt or shame associated with dreading leaving your home and going into work. You invested time and money, and you ought to be happy to have this job.

When confiding this issue in others, you may experience resistance or backlash that pushes you even deeper into a wedge.

Or maybe, your job is all you ever wanted, but the work environment is toxic. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to talk to your boss. Ask for a new position in another branch office.

It may fix the problem. If you can’t get a new position, try to create a good work environment by being positive and encouraging others to be this way.

Sometimes, because of stress and frustration, workers only see the negative side of life and work.

If you try to change their mindset, they may start thinking positively. In that case, moving on and feeling comfortable at work will no longer be a challenge.

But, if you can’t find a solution, you should think about getting a new job. Living in a bad mood because of your job also have adverse effects on your personal life and health. 

4. Your Skills Are Becoming Obsolete

In this age of rapid technology development and cost-cutting, some skills are decreasing in value exponentially and will ultimately become obsolete.

In contrast, the demand for many tech skills is increasing day by day.

If you feel your skills are getting obsolete, show initiative and propose to your boss that you start improving your skills with free coding resources.

Learning how to code has become a necessity to stay relevant and impress employers in many industries. Many companies have already expressed their need for coders by hiring tech workers to take advantage of data and provide better services.

Similarly, diving deeper and asking for tuition reimbursement benefits is an even more aggressive way to revive your skillset. Many workers are enrolling in coding boot camps to leverage their skills and help organizations implement better strategies.

Realizing that your skills are becoming obsolete and you need to learn something new may seem intimidating. But during the pandemic, many workers took a step out of their comfort zone and began a new tech career.

Do your future-self a favor and don’t keep a job that doesn’t empower you to develop your skills.

man working on his laptop at sunset

5. You Feel You’re Running on Autopilot

There’s no surer sign of lack of career fulfillment than going through your day and tasks mindlessly.

If you feel like a machine running on autopilot, you should talk with your boss and ask for help. It could be stress-induced. Perhaps the solution is simply admitting that you can’t handle all your work obligations and looking for workload redistribution.

However, this isn’t necessarily a sign of workload overload.

Perhaps you’re feeling numb and tuning out as a reaction to your tasks. There’s almost no surer sign that you’re lacking career fulfillment when this becomes your standard disposition.

If you need to take a break, let your boss know. Most employers are concerned about employees’ health and wellbeing. If your boss disagrees and keeps piling onto your workload, this is a huge sign you should advocate better for yourself or this isn’t a healthy workplace and you should leave.

Don’t let this feeling linger without addressing it. When you look around and you can’t find any more fulfillment or joy in your daily tasks, you need to start asking questions. Living in boredom and apathy is turning the wine back into water. It’s no way to live.

6. You Think Your Job is Affecting Your Personality

Personality is what makes you you. A job affecting that changing who you are in a negative way is dangerous. If you feel your current position affects who you are, you should consider starting a job hunt.

This is a serious issue: your job affecting your personality will also injure your marriage, relationships with your family and potentially every area of your life.

To achieve actual career fulfillment, you need a job that makes you feel comfortable and passionate.

Employees feeling their best is also a plus for managers: when workers enjoy what they do, they provide better results and allow organizations to take leaps towards success.

Employees who are suffering from this won’t meet employers’ needs well. Even worse, they won’t truly be happy.

7. The Company’s Goals Are Not Your Own 

To be on the path to actual career fulfillment, you should get a job in a company with the same goals and values as yours.

If the company’s goals are your own, your efforts will feel worthwhile and important.

As everything you do at work will allow you to take small steps towards achieving your own objectives, your satisfaction will increase, and you’ll feel intrinsically benefited.

If you feel that you and the company are moving in opposite directions, or that they profit from something that you actively disagree with, you should find a new job as quickly as possible. Don’t live in a state of cognitive dissonance.

person with bracelets and brown shirt sitting behind a laptop

8. You Discuss Your Lack Of Career Fulfillment With Colleagues & Are Discouraged

This discouragement may present in two different ways. The first is passive discouragement.

This may look like colleagues imparting thoughts of indifference towards the idea of career fulfillment. They shrug their shoulders at the discussion, and share anecdotes about how rough things were during the recession, or about their pension and how they’re going to hold steady until their retirement.

No matter how valid their concerns are for them, remember: their fear is not your fear. Internalizing it as your own is a surefire dream killer.

You get to decide what your big concerns are. And, you really ought to. Leaving a steady salary to pursue career fulfillment is not without risks. But if you let someone else’s fears dictate your choices, you’ll never find fulfillment.

The second form of discouragement is active discouragement.

You should prepare yourself for this: your pursuit of passion, the f-word (fun) and career fulfillment will actively rub some people the wrong way.

It’s disappointing, but you should prepare yourself for backlash in all areas of life when you start intentionally pursuing career fulfillment.

And to be totally honest, it’s not all invalid. It takes privilege to leave a stable gig to pursue something more meaningful.

Not everyone has the security and privilege to pursue that. A word to the wise: don’t ask people about why they’re not pursuing the lifestyle they want. You don’t know their restrictions.

Worry about your own career fulfillment, not theirs.

If this active discouragement comes from your boss, that’s a serious red flag that they aren’t invested in your growth and satisfaction within the company.

Final Career Fulfillment Thoughts

How do you feel about your career fulfillment? If you identify any of these signs at your workplace, ask questions and investigate the root of your career fulfillment problems before making any decisions.

If you arrive at the conclusion that these issues can’t be resolved in your current company, you should look for a job that’s aligned with what brings your career fulfillment and your professional objectives and values. Or, consider starting a business and offering yourself your dream job.

Whatever you pursue next, keep in mind that a job should give you something more than just a salary.

Written collaboratively with Artur Meyster, founder of Career Karma.

More resources for you here on Writing From Nowhere:

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  • What no one tells you about the digital nomad lifestyle { read }
  • Are you sleepwalking through life? Mantras for conscious living { read }
  • Remote work success stories to inspire you to go for it { read }
  • Lifestyle deflation: how to afford your dream lifestyle { read }