It can be difficult to finally admit to yourself that you're not happy with a job you thought was a good fit. You feel a bit guilty because you know about the time and effort the employer has put into hiring and training you. You are also a bit annoyed with yourself, because you feel you missed some of the signs that this job wasn't going to work.
First, realize that you're not the first person to go through this, and you won't be the last. Second, it isn't good for the employer or yourself to stay with a job that isn't a good fit. As your unhappiness increases, your productivity and creativity will drop. That's not fair to the employer, is it?
Once you've gotten past those emotional hurdles, it's time to figure out what you should be doing in your career.
Here are some steps to take:
1. List what you love and what you hate. Don't be wishy-washy here. Be honest with yourself. Maybe you took a certification class and spent thousands of dollars to become a project manager. But you hate it. Hate. It. Maybe you have discovered that what you really love to do is design the graphics for your reports. You look forward to the days when you get to design a dazzling pie chart.
2. Think about how you invest private time. You're in the doctor's office waiting for your flu shot, and you come across some really cool graphics in a magazine. You quickly snap a photo of it, and start envisioning how to use those graphics in your next report. This doesn't even feel like work, does it? When you're devoting off hours to thinking about it, trying to hone your skills or learn new ones to enhance it, then you know you're onto something that will excite you in your career.
3. Look for connections. Obviously, you're good at project management or you wouldn't be in that job. But your creative side longs to do more. Still, your ability to stay organized, handle a crisis and plan for the short-term and long-term can be an asset to any career, including one devoted to design. Can you find some connections to start building upon? Perhaps one of your project management networking connections is with a design firm? Or, your boss is willing to let you cross train in the marketing department? Don't feel like you have to throw everything away to create a job that is a better fit, even if the two seem miles apart.
Finally, I know there is always a lot of advice about "finding your dream job." But the reality is, we all have bills to pay and you may not be able to just quit the job you have and become a professional rodeo clown. Think of it as finding something that will make better use of your enthusiasm and help pay the bills. You don't have to throw away all your skills or training to find a new job that will make you happier. Start looking for ways to reshape your career so that it includes more of the things you like.