3 Life Lessons I Learned from 5 Years in the Wrong Career

LIfe Lessons in Wrong Career

I once had a successful corporate career and worked hard (plus super long hours) to get to where I was. My life was fine – I was paying the bills, living in a cool apartment by the beach (yay Bondi!), and had enough money to travel.

But deep down my heart knew there was something more – that I was here for something different.

Something bigger. I knew I had a purpose to fulfill here on earth – I felt it in my core – but there was one huge problem.

My life-consuming corporate job was totally distracting me, taking up all my time, and ultimately holding me back from becoming who I was truly meant to be. In hopes of deterring you from making the same mistake of staying in the wrong career for way too long, maybe you can learn from my mistakes.   

What I Learned From 5 years in the Wrong Career:

1. Money truly isn’t worth sacrificing your happiness

Sure, I was earning a decent salary, and for the first time in my life I felt financially secure. But along with that came strings attached. I felt trapped, caged, chained by the money and lifestyle I had created for myself. I felt that I couldn’t financially afford to start over in a new career. When my (now husband) and I were on our year-long backpacking trip around the world, I saw people living in such extreme poverty I didn’t want to believe existed, and certainly had never seen firsthand. Suddenly my financial worries seemed so “first world problems” and I knew my purpose here was to help people.

To really help people. And I knew the money I needed would come. I came to wholeheartedly believe that living my purpose was far more important than money.

Earning a salary while living my purpose for the past 7 years has been more fulfilling than I can ever imagine. I wouldn’t trade how I feel every day for any amount of money in the world. And I would never even dream of going back to being miserable in a career just for the sake of money. There are so many ways to make money in our world – while happily fulfilling your purpose at the same time!

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
— Joseph Campbell

2. It’s never too late to make a change – no matter how old you are

From the time we are little, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. We start out dreaming to be police officers, Olympic athletes, dolphin trainers, and zoo keepers.

Sadly, as we grow up, somewhere along the way the magic is lost. We are faced with reality and have to create sustainable lifestyles. Society encourages to do so by going to university and getting a job that will pay the bills.

Most people I’ve spoken to chose the wrong career from the start because they didn’t know any better. In our 20’s we are vulnerable, afraid of falling flat on our faces, trying to pay the rent and feed ourselves at the same time.

We feel such a strong pull to do the responsible thing – so our dreams end up taking the back seat. Fast-forward 10 or 20 years, we begin to realize how short life is. We wake up to ourselves. Maybe through a life-altering illness, a divorce, or some other life tragedy. We learn about our hearts, our souls, our spirituality, our life.

And we want to make it count. We aren’t willing to settle anymore, and are ready to finally live the life we know we are meant to live.

Unfortunately, it takes most of us living and working in the wrong career for a decade (or 2 or 3!) to realize this. People make career changes ALL THE TIME. I’ve done it twice. Once at 29 and again at 36. You can do it too, I promise.

3. We all have a purpose to fulfill on earth

One really fantastic thing about being in the wrong career is you go through an extremely low point in life (ok, well that part sucks but what comes from it is fantastic).

When things in our lives are going well, we don’t make it a point to change and grow. It’s during the difficult periods that we really question who we are, why we are here, learn about ourselves, our spirituality, reconnect with our hearts, and listen to our souls. I realized during this time in my life that we are all here for a reason.

Each one of us has unique gifts and talents that only we can offer the world (no one else can do exactly what you do in the way you do it). The world desperately needs our gifts and talents to be shared, but as I mentioned above, we usually choose different paths for reasons such as financial security, or safety – we feel taking a responsible job is what we “should” be doing. Ironically, we think we are doing the right thing, yet happiness continues to elude us. 

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
— Steven Pressfield

I’ll leave you with this….

Throughout my journey of being in the wrong career and going through a career change (or two!), I learned that by transitioning our life onto the path we are meant to be on, not only do we experience the joy and happiness of utilizing our God-given gifts, talents, and beliefs, but so many other people in the world benefit from them as well.

I look at the thousands of lives I have been unbelievably blessed to touch – lives I never would have made a difference to if I would have chosen to stay in the wrong career. I’ll be the first to admit – it’s not easy to change. But by stepping up, choosing your heart over fear, and fulfilling your purpose here on earth…. This is the key to living a happy and purposeful life.

If you know someone who might be struggling in the wrong career, please help them out by sharing this with them. 


Are you feeling trapped in the wrong career and know you’re meant for more? Grab your free workbook 5 Steps to Finding Your Dream Career.