Emotional Salary is the non-financial or emotional gains we obtain from working that motivate us, change our perception of work and lead to personal and professional development.

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How to know if you’re in the wrong job and what to do about it.

Have you ever dreaded a Monday morning?

Or been so excited for Friday that it becomes the highlight of your working week?

If you answered yes, don’t be alarmed, that just makes you a normal human being. But, if you answer yes every week, then you may be in the wrong job.

Realising you are in the wrong job may not be immediately obvious to you. In your first few weeks of a new job, there are so many people to meet and new things to learn that it is natural to feel slightly overwhelmed while you settle in.

Even when you have been in your job for a while and you feel tired or unenthusiastic, the symptoms can often be put down to having had a long weekend partying, not enough sleep or even coming down with a cold.

Professional man pouring coffee into mug from a glass jug, Wrong Job, Wrong Career

You’re not supposed to like your job!

Have you ever heard that phrase before? Or maybe someone has told you that “nobody actually enjoys their work”.

If we look at statistics like this one from Gallup stating that “87% of workers worldwide are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive”, it’s easy to assume that the previous statements are true.

We don’t want that to be the norm.

We all spend eight hours a day (minimum!) working and we think it should be spent doing something that you can genuinely find joy in at least 80-90% of the time.


What can it feel like to be in the wrong job?

Feeling of Dread

While most of us probably feel like this on a couple of occasions, that consistent feeling of dread on Sunday nights, or not wanting to get out of bed in the morning can often be more than a sign that you are just not a morning person.

You are bored

If you find that you’re not really that enthusiastic or excited about doing the projects you are working on, there would probably be no love lost between you and your current job if you chose to leave.

It’s no longer challenging

When you started, there was so much to learn and lots of room for creativity and mastery but as time has gone on, tasks have become repetitive and you find that are not learning as much as you used to. As the saying goes, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. The same goes for your job – you generally shouldn’t be adding more value than you are receiving.

You consistently miss goals

If you’re not reaching the objectives and goals you set out to reach, it could firstly be a sign that you need more training or the goals were unrealistic, but it could also be a sign that you are not loving the work you do and therefore are not putting that much effort into actively achieving the goals you set.

Constantly complaining

Even about the little things. If you find yourself with something new to complain about every day, then it could be time to start looking for a new job.


If any of the five points above resonate with you, read on to find out how to overcome these situations.

Tall red wrong way sign on the side of a road, Wrong Job, Wrong Career

You know you’re in the wrong job – what are your options?

You are not helping yourself by staying in a company environment that you cannot thrive or grow in. It’s also not a great situation for the company either, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to help you find the right path.

There are a couple of ways you can go about this. 

First, decide if you think you are in the wrong career or just with the wrong company or team. If you have worked with different companies in a similar role in the past and enjoyed it, then your reasons for being unhappy or distracted now could be down to anything from poor management to being around co-workers that you don’t connect with. If this sounds more like what you could be experiencing, have a read of our last post about Facing Challenges at Work

If you have realised that you may be in the wrong career, however, you need to take a look at the bigger picture and weigh up your options.

Most importantly, try to avoid the sunk cost fallacy of “well, I’ve already spent a lot of time working in this career so I might as well keep going.” This will only lead to increased frustration and unhappiness in the long-run.

We are not saying you need to drop everything and quit your job, but you could benefit from realistically thinking about what skills you have and how you can use them in different ways that would allow you to earn money and achieve a high emotional salary.

Let’s say you work in pharmaceutical sales. You love the industry but you don’t love selling. What are your options? Well, you could talk with your manager and see if there are opportunities to transfer to another department within the same company? Are there offices abroad that you could transfer to in order to learn a different way of working? Maybe you don’t love it because you need more experience and training. You could, therefore, ask to shadow some of the top salespeople or participate in more meetings or sales calls.

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine that you are fantastic at sales but you are not feeling the pharmaceutical industry. You could start to look at similar sales roles in different companies or sectors. You could also look at branching out on your own as a sales consultant or advisor to companies in other industries.

There are many solutions and the advice really depends on the specific person and situation at the time.

Four white arrows pointing north on a wooden background

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Realising that you may be in the wrong job can often bring about feelings of failure. Try to avoid this. If we think back on the Gallup statistic from earlier, very few people ever come to this realisation, let alone do anything about it. Be proud of yourself for being self-aware enough to realise this.

What you learn from negative working experiences helps you to acknowledge and be grateful for the positive ones to come. You are learning what you don’t want in a job which will bring you one step closer to finding one that has everything you do love.

If you would like a bit of guidance, take our Emotional Salary Barometer to help you discover how to identify opportunities to redefine your working life for the better.

Have you ever been a job you didn’t love? How did you manage it? Let us know in the comments.

Work happy!

Clodagh & Marisa

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