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How can you be certain that your career is on the proper track?
The most important aspect you have to consider is, are you passionate about your work? Do care about what you do and is it fulfilling? Your intuition is there for a reason and often times we ignore it for the sake of convenience.
If you love what you do then you have to take a look at the goals you have for yourself. Not just in your career but in life in general. If you can't think of any then I'd sit down and ask yourself what you want your life to look like 5 or 10 years from now and draw up a plan on how to get there.
How would you describe your work environment? Do you feel supported and confident in your position and around the people you work with and for? Your work environment can tell you a lot about the path you're going down and if it's going to work for you.
The Princeton Review has a career quiz you can take that can help in understanding your career path.
Hope this helps!
Do you feel fulfilled? Are you happy? Or are you just going to work in order to pay the bills? If it's the last one, it's time for a change.
Of course, it isn't always that obvious. If you're in college working towards a degree for a career, it can be harder to know. Definitely talk to people in the chosen industry – those who are still in it and those who have left. Check out online reports about estimated job availability and income, as well. Get the pros and cons and have an honest talk with yourself about if the pros and work and money towards the career are worth it. If it isn't, don't be afraid to change majors and change paths.
Look out for the sunk cost fallacy (defined here). Don't stay on a path you know you'll dislike just because you're already on the road.
I really enjoy this Forbes article regarding seven ways to know if you're on the right career path.
The one about quieting out the noise really stood out to me. If you're on the road you truly want to be on and are where you're truly meant to be, then other people won't be able to change your mind or dampen your passion. The criticism and comments may still be annoying, but they won't sway you from your real ambitions.
Not all of this may be true for your current job; you may not have your dream job and your dream schedule. But if you're on a path that will realistically – with hard work and a bit of luck – get you to that point, keep going. If you feel that passion and joy will never arrive for you the way you're going now, then it's time to jump ship and get on a new one.