I think it's a rite of passage in modern Western countries to wind up in an ill-fitting job.
You get into these jobs for a lot of different reasons, but when things turn sour, why do you stay? Why do you stay when you could find your ideal career, instead?
1. You've bought into the "I have too many interests" myth.
This is like saying you have too much chocolate--never a problem.
You don't have too many interests or passions or talents. Yes, I've heard "I'm good at too many things" as a reason for not being professionally happy. Too talented--poor you!
So, no, you don't have a "too many interests" problem. What you have is a clarity issue.
You don't know which interests to pursue, which passions to monetize, or which talents to spin into gold. When all things seem equal it's hard to make a choice, and so you opt for confusion.
In not making a choice, you're really choosing confusion rather than taking a chance. You're more comfortable with the (crappy) status quo than with committing to some things and letting other things go. And this can go on for years.
2. You think you're not qualified to do anything else.
I think you might be surprised. You don't always have to have a degree or official training to be qualified; expertise and value come in many forms.
What if instead of writing yourself off (wouldn't you be mad if someone else treated you that way?), you became a ninja at knowing what makes you valuable, what kinds of problems you can solve, and what kind of people you're uniquely qualified to help?
3. You're scared about money.
I'm not a dope; I know money is important. And I know fear about money can create anxiety, conflict between spouses, and make you feel trapped.
But I also know that it's possible to take risks without being reckless. And prepare for change. And do things gradually.
Last year when my husband was considering a job that would move us halfway across the country and be a pay cut, we had all those feelings and conversations that other people faced with career change do. So I speak to you from the trenches.
But if you're going to be fearful or base your life decisions around dollars and cents, which we all have to do to some degree, at least respond to real offers and situations rather than hypothetical ones.
The truth is, until you have a job offer or set your own rates, it's all in your imagination. When it's time to make a real decision, you'll be smart and do what's best.
And P.S. - Did it occur to you that you could actually be making more money in a different career?
4. Because you can't imagine what else you would do, you assume that no such thing exists.
Normally, I'd say you're pretty creative, but you're really slacking here.
I'll cut you a break though, because I know you grew up with the same set of career expectations that I did. The adults in your life were teachers, doctors, secretaries, lawyers, electricians, real estate agents, with maybe an artist or farmer oddball thrown in. And that was about it. That's about as much variety as you could see examples for or imagine for yourself once you grew out of the ballerina/zookeeper/fireman stage.
But things are different today. Those more traditional jobs are still around, but there are so many more possibilities. Now there are self-love coaches, and dog yoga instructors, and food truck chefs, and closet organizers, and vegan nutritionists, and wilderness leaders, and you name it. And if it doesn't already exists, there's probably be room to create it.
Just because you can't picture it today doesn't mean it can't exist. And oftentimes it's the things we can't predict that turn out the best.
Your turn. In the comments, let me know…
Why have you stayed stuck in a job that's not right for you?