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I am so fortunate and grateful to be able to say “I love my job!” with a smile on my face. Not everyone can do that. In fact, in 2014, more than 50% of all working Americans were unhappy at work or otherwise unsatisfied by their jobs. Maybe you’re one of them.

One common adage is that if you do what you love, then it won’t be work. I don’t think this is true — despite doing what I love, hard work is still hard work. The difference is whether you can smile at the end of the day and not dread doing it again tomorrow. Dread is a prime signal that your current job is not a good fit 6 Signs That You Are Not Meant To Be A Programmer 6 Signs That You Are Not Meant To Be A Programmer Not everyone is cut out to be a programmer. If you aren't completely sure that you're meant to be a programmer, here are some signs that may point you in the right direction. Read More .

So, if you’re unhappy at work, know that you aren’t alone! But life is too short to do something you hate (barring extenuating circumstances), so here are a few exercises you can do to find a career path that will satisfy.

1. Use a Passion-Exploration Tool

There are thousands of different career paths out there. Are you aware of every single one? Probably not. And that’s the problem: your passion could very well be in one of those careers that you didn’t even know existed.

You can’t begin to explore your passions until you know what’s out there, and that’s why passion-exploration tools are the first exercise we recommend. You might know these as career assessment tests.

Some of these tests only take 10–15 minutes, while others are super-involved and require up to an hour. They’ll usually warn you of the time commitment at the start, but just to be safe, set aside at least one hour before starting any of these.

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With that being said, here are some good ones to try:

  1. WTF Should I Do with My Life? — This “test” is extremely easy yet informative. It starts with a random idea generator (“You should be a drummer”) and you can click Okay! or Hell No! If you reject, you’ll keep getting random ideas. Once you accept, you’ll get advice on what that career entails WTF Should You Do With Your Life? This Site Leads You in the Right Direction WTF Should You Do With Your Life? This Site Leads You in the Right Direction If you don't know what to do with your life, don't worry -- you aren't alone! And this site has been built to help you figure out a path you'll enjoy. Read More , how to pursue that career, what kind of pay to expect, common challenges, and more.
  2. MyPlan Career Assessment Test — MyPlan offers four different PhD-designed career assessment tests, but only the Values Assessment is free. You can unlock the other three for $20 if you want, but the Values Assessment is enough to find careers that line up with your personal values and motivations.
  3. O*NET Interest Profiler — As the name implies, the Interest Profiler gathers information on your personal interests and then recommends coinciding career paths that might fit well. It’s a 60-question quiz where each answer is an answer from 1–5 based on how much you like or dislike a certain interest. Very easy and insightful.
  4. Holland Code Career Test — The Holland code theory of career choice, sometimes called the RIASEC system, proposes that there are six abstract categories that all careers fall under: building, thinking, creating, helping, persuading, and organizing. This 80-question quiz will show you which abstract categories fit you best.
  5. Sokanu Career Test — The Sokanu test matches career paths based on five separate factors: interest, personality, work environment, history & goals, and competitiveness. Based on your responses to the test, you’ll get a list of best-fit careers to explore. For $30, you get Premium reports that shed more light on why certain careers may be better for you.

2. Sort Through a Career List

Depending on which passion-exploration tools you used above, you may have only gotten a general idea of which careers to explore. For example, maybe you learned that you’re better suited for “thinking” jobs or “techy” jobs, but nothing more specific than that.

Now it’s time to pull up your sleeves and begin sifting through and exploring individual careers.

For this, I point you to the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the most in-depth and comprehensive source of career-related information you’ll ever find.

Start on the left side, under Occupation Groups. For each group that appeals to you in some way, right-click and open in a new tab. Once you reach the end and have opened several tabs, go through each group’s list of occupations. You’ll find job descriptions, entry-level education requirements, and median pay details.

occupational-outlook-handbook-search

Or you can use the search engine, which lets you search for careers based on median pay range, entry-level education requirements, how much prior training you need, the size of the job market, and how fast the job market is expected to grow.

Either way, it’s a great way to research and find jobs that appeal to you but you never knew about.

If you still don’t have an idea of where to begin, consider starting with this year’s best-paying tech careers 6 of the Best Paying Tech Careers for 2016 6 of the Best Paying Tech Careers for 2016 Investing in the right technology career requires planning and foresight. These six career options are expected to be the hottest in the next few years. Are you ready? Read More . Note that there are plenty of techy jobs that don’t involve coding Coding Isn't For Everyone: 7 Tech Jobs You Can Get Without It Coding Isn't For Everyone: 7 Tech Jobs You Can Get Without It Don't be discouraged if you want to be a part of the tech field -- there are plenty of jobs for people who don't know how to code! Read More ! And if you want to avoid workaholism, check out these techy jobs with great work-life balance 6 of the Best Tech Jobs to Have a Work-Life Balance 6 of the Best Tech Jobs to Have a Work-Life Balance You want to have a career that allows you to spend quality time with family. GlassDoor researched the 25 best jobs for work-life balance, and we look at the top tech jobs from that research. Read More .

3. Talk with Other People

Talking with others can be a double-edged sword. So, approach it in the right way. Go at it the wrong way and you might just end up on a worse path than you’re on now!

Never ask: “What do you think I should do?”

Instead, ask: “How are you liking your career?”

Also, ask: “If you could do something else, what would it be?”

Nobody knows you better than yourself, so the people around you can’t tell you what to do — but they can provide a lot of insight into their current careers, and you can use that insight to judge if that career might be good for you.

Think of it as an informal interview. The goal is to pull you closer or push you away from their career — just remember that both are successes. If talking to an accountant makes you realize that you’d love doing that, great! And if talking to a nurse makes you second guess, then that’s good too. You don’t want to waste money and energy on a career path that you might hate, right?

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Truth is, a lot of jobs that seem glamorous on the surface are far from it. These interviews are important so you know what you’re getting into, especially if you’re eyeing a job in the tech realm Do You Have What It Takes for a Career in Technology? Do You Have What It Takes for a Career in Technology? The digital world may tempt you to jump on the information technology wagon. But is it the right choice for you? You have to make a decision. Ask yourself these seven questions. Read More .

What if you don’t have people to interview? Hop over to LinkedIn, where you can connect with people from all kinds of careers 8 LinkedIn Hacks You Should Use To Further Your Career 8 LinkedIn Hacks You Should Use To Further Your Career If you're a jobseeker or just keen to move up in the world, you've probably set up a LinkedIn profile and started building a network there. You may have put a little thought into your... Read More . Not everyone will give you their time, but some will! If you’ve never used LinkedIn before, start with these tips Diving Into LinkedIn? 5 Tips To Get You Started Diving Into LinkedIn? 5 Tips To Get You Started LinkedIn can seem overwhelming. These 5 tips will get you from total newcomer to all-star networker in no time. Read More .

4. “What Would I Do If…”

Let’s say you’ve come this far and still have no idea what to do. Or maybe you have several different options before you and you just can’t decide How to Be More Decisive and Get More Done How to Be More Decisive and Get More Done Decision making is stressful. It is also a skill which allows you to get better with practice. You should find it easier to make the right decisions with some of the tips outlined here. Read More . I’ve been there before, and this is the exercise that helped me get to the next step.

Imagine everything in your life is taken care of. Your debts are paid, you’re in a good financial position, your family is healthy and your kids have grown up and are living on their own. If it helps, let’s say that you’ve been retired for one year — take money out of the equation, you’ve traveled the world, and you have very few responsibilities.

What would you do to fill your day? Now that you’ve “finished” the hard parts of life, what are you going to do next?

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For me, I know I would keep writing. For you, maybe you’d fill your time with a crafty skill like woodworking Beginner's Woodworking: 5 Skills You Need to Know Beginner's Woodworking: 5 Skills You Need to Know Many people shy away from woodworking projects simply because they haven't done it before. Here's a rundown of the 5 most important woodworking skills to help you get started. Read More . Or maybe you’d spend all your time on a creative hobby 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person Read More , like gardening or photography.

No matter what it is, there’s always a way to make money with it. Some will be harder than others, of course, but that just means you’ll need to get a little creative to find out where the money will come from.

Here’s a helpful exercise for that: Grab 15 index cards. On each card, write down an activity that you’d enjoy doing even if you weren’t paid for it, or an activity that you think you’re strong at. When you’re done, mix and match the different cards. You’ll be surprised at what you find in the intersections.

For example, if you like “rock climbing” and “filmmaking”, maybe you can create a successful YouTube channel 9 Key Ingredients of a Successful YouTube Channel 9 Key Ingredients of a Successful YouTube Channel Truth be told, there is no set formula for a successful YouTube channel. But there are a few key ingredients that will make your chances of YouTube fame all the more likely. Read More that leverages those passions into instructional or entertaining videos. Or what about “photography” and “cooking”? The possibilities are endless!

Found It? Now Pursue It!

Not everyone can just quit their job and start pursuing their passions right this minute — and that’s fine. You might need a year or longer for this process of discovery and exploration. As long as you aren’t hiding behind excuses, you’ll be okay.

Ready to dive in and switch careers? You may find these job search engines 7 Big Job Search Engines to Help You Find Work 7 Big Job Search Engines to Help You Find Work Searching for the next good job is a continuous activity for many of us. Start your job search on seven of the biggest job search engines on the web. Read More useful, as well as these tools for seamlessly switching careers Want To Switch Jobs? 5 Tools That Help You Reinvent A New Career Want To Switch Jobs? 5 Tools That Help You Reinvent A New Career Finding the right career is easier with online tools and career counselors. But to truly understand your dream job, you need to dive deeper and decide for yourself if that job fits you. Read More .

It’s a scary and exciting prospect, but I promise you it will be worth it. No one ever found fulfillment by retreating deep into one’s own comfort zone. Good luck!

Are you unhappy at work? What kinds of careers are you eyeing? Need help finding your own passions to explore? Share your struggles with us below!

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