9 Common Lies You Should Stop Telling Yourself About Your Career

If you’ve found yourself on an unsatisfying job path, you might be lying to yourself about why you can’t find something else.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Finding your dream job, one that’s satisfying and fulfilling, is a difficult task. And if you aren’t happy in your current career, you are not alone. Job satisfaction has hit a 20-year low, according to MetLife. 

So what’s holding workers back from finding better employment? Here are nine lies you need to stop telling yourself about your job.

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There aren’t any jobs

fizkes/Adobe businessman frustrated by business failure

This is an invented excuse and it simply isn’t true. There are 10.7 million job openings in the U.S. as of November. The largest number of openings are in food services, health care and social assistance, transportation, warehousing, and utilities. 

However, if none of those are ideal for you, do some research and seek out industry professionals in your chosen field. Most companies will bring you on if you’ve got the skills they want.

I hate my job but I can’t leave

Drobot Dean/Adobe bored young woman dressed in shirt sitting at her workplace

If you hate your job, or keep picking jobs you hate, and feel like you can’t leave even though you’re miserable, one reason could be the “negative emotional environment.” A self-defeating pattern forms from negative emotions like fear, anger, shame, and helplessness. 

Getting out of that pattern isn’t easy, but if you can recognize the signs and work to understand them, you can fight your way out of the cycle.

I’m happy with my job

deagreez/Adobe woman makes face with toothy smile

Are you? As noted above, job satisfaction among Americans is at a 20-year low, particularly among younger workers. Three big driving factors behind that are work-life balance, doing purposeful work, and the culture of support at a company. 

It’s not just how you’re working, it’s also why you’re working. If you aren’t happy with your job, if it isn’t fulfilling, you should switch gears. Don't forget, you’ll spend 90,000 hours of your life working.

My company needs me

Rido/Adobe business people working together

This may be hard to hear, but you can be replaced. That’s the nature of business. In fact, the Great Resignation has continued into 2022. American workers are leaving their jobs at levels not seen for 50 years, and with those job changes have come wage increases. 

By that same token, job loyalty is also declining. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for wanting to change careers or career paths. Doing so certainly won’t help you find your dream job.

I went to college for this job

Tyler Olson/Adobe tensed customer service representative in call center

It may be true that you went to college for your particular career, but it doesn’t matter if you’re unhappy with it. 

According to Pew Research, 34% of college graduates are underemployed. Among recent college grads, that number climbs to 41% for those between 22 and 27. 

Regardless of what your major was in — business is the most common, followed by health services, social sciences, and history — there’s no need to be locked down by your degree. 

There are lots of jobs out there that pay well and don’t require college. Or, you could always try freelancing.

I’ll stay for one more year

calcassa/Adobe employee in urgency and deadline concept with alarm

This is an easy trap to fall into. You tell yourself you’ll stay at an unpleasant job for just a while longer, but one year turns into five or more. If you know a job isn’t right for you, there’s no better time than the present to find something else. 

Some workers don’t even stay at a job for a full year. More than 70% of younger Americans, millennials and Gen Z, have been disappointed by a new job, according to a survey by The Muse. 

Even more dramatically, 80% of those surveyed said it was all right to bail on a job they didn’t like in under six months.

The pay is too good to leave

Jelena/Adobe accountant count on calculator at home

The paycheck you take home from your job might be enough to sustain your lifestyle, but, at the end of the day, there are more important things than money. And you won’t even know if you could be making more unless you look around. 

Remember, you’re going to spend a third of your life working. Why voluntarily spend a third of your life unhappy? 

Finding a career you’re passionate about is a much better use of that time — because you won’t get it back.

I don’t know how to start over

Burlingham/Adobe man working on computer looking frustated

Not knowing how to start over might be true, but here are two things to remember. First, you started fresh when you began your career. Second, even if it’s scary, starting over is better than wasting your time in a career or job that makes you unhappy. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t even keep track of or even try to estimate the number of times workers change career paths. 

The only sure thing is that it happens often. Don’t let fear hold you back. A quick internet search about starting over with a new career yields lots of advice.

I’m too old to start over

Halfpoint/Adobe Older man working in warehouse

Much like being afraid to start over again, believing that you’re too old for a new career is another example of your fears holding you back. One option is a new job in your chosen field. Another option is to go all-in on a job in an entirely different field. 

While that might require some training to get going, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. 

The BLS has an entire occupational outlook handbook online that provides a ton of information about various careers you might be interested in — from pay and to projected growth to projected new jobs.

Bottom line

Seventyfour/Adobe lady in glasses standing in lobby and looking at camera

The biggest thing keeping you from finding your dream job could be you and the lies you tell yourself about your career. Much of that boils down to fear in various forms. There’s no reason to be afraid of switching jobs, or of branching off into an entirely new career path.

Americans change jobs all the time. According to the BLS, the median number of years a worker stays with their current employer is 4.1 years. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Find what makes you happy.

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Author Details

Will Vitka

Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.