So many of us think that a traditional career path is our only option. On this path, we aim to get good grades, head off to college, and get a 9-5 job. But for many people, this traditional career path just isn’t fulfilling. 

A traditional career path may not be right for you…but how do you know whether or not this is the best path for you? 

There are a few signs you should look out for. You’ll also need to know what to do if you start to realize that a traditional career isn’t right for you. 

How To Know That A Traditional Career Path Isn't Right For You | Heal My Muse

4 signs that a traditional career isn’t right for you

When you’re considering a traditional vs nontraditional career path, there are four key things you should keep in mind. These signs help you start to realize whether or not you would be fulfilled by a traditional career. 

1. The idea of doing the same thing every day is terrifying

For many creatives, the idea of doing the same thing over and over is terrifying. Picturing an office space with a sea of desks and fluorescent lights makes you feel claustrophobic. Staring at a computer screen on someone else’s time schedule doesn’t seem appealing at all. 

If these feelings resonate with you, it’s an indication that a traditional career likely isn’t right for you. But what if you’re already in a position like this—what should you do?

One place to start if your current role has you feeling trapped is requesting to work remotely or from home a few days per week. Many employers are open to this possibility, especially now. Try to be intentional about planning your schedule so that you get time to walk around outside or switch up your space. 

But if an office job like this starts to seem super draining, know that this traditional career path isn’t your only option.

2. Paperwork is your pet peeve

The next warning sign that a traditional career isn’t for you is if spreadsheets and paperwork are the banes of your existence. 

Lots of creatives hate having to spend their time filling out spreadsheets, tracking data, or completing administrative or organizational tasks. And that makes sense—if you’re naturally creative, you’d much rather work in your zone of genius doing things that light you up. 

Many traditional career roles require you to perform these types of tasks. That means there usually isn’t a workaround if you want to stay in that job. But if you switched to a nontraditional path like freelancing, you could easily outsource the work and delegate what you don’t love. 

3. You hate the idea of a required schedule and routine 

How does the idea of having a set, required schedule and following the same routine every single day make you feel? For many creatives, it’s a feeling of no control and no agency over their own lives. 

With a traditional career, there’s not much you can do about working set hours—that’s just the way it works. Sometimes, you can start a conversation with your boss about more flexibility in the workplace. 

But generally, switching to a nontraditional career might be a better move for you. 

Related: 7 ways to stay inspired while working your day job

4. You resent having to do what someone else tells you to do

Imagine that, in the middle of your creative, productive flow, someone interrupts to tell you there’s an urgent meeting. Imagine that someone tells you that the project you’re working on should be put on hold and that something else is more important. 

For many creative individuals, these types of scenarios are infuriating. No one enjoys being told what to do, especially when it’s clear that it’s only happening to fuel someone else’s ego. 

If the idea of having to ask for time off for vacation or sick days drives you crazy, that’s another indicator that a traditional career isn’t right for you. 

In fact, feeling resentful toward the idea of answering to anyone means it’s time to take the leap and become your own boss. You shouldn’t just quit immediately after you finish reading this post, though. You’ll need to carefully plan out your move from a traditional career path to a creative freelancer.  

Rewards of going freelance instead of a traditional career

No matter how much it’s ingrained into your mind that a traditional career is the key to success, it’s simply not true. If you’re experiencing all four of the signs above and everything we’ve mentioned resonates with you…it’s time to consider going freelance. 

You deserve to do work that lights you up and fulfills you. And you shouldn’t spend years and years in a position that you despise. 

If you’re considering making the leap, here are some incredible rewards of switching from a traditional career to a freelance role. 

You’ll be able to combine your experience and passions

It’s totally possible to combine the experience you already have from your traditional career role with the things that you’re truly passionate about. Even if they combine in surprising ways, freelancing offers you the chance to blend together what you love and what you’re good at. 

For example, let’s say you’ve always adored the beauty industry, but you have experience in marketing for a financial company. Your marketing experience will translate seamlessly into a freelance position for a number of companies in the beauty space!

You’ll experience tons of flexibility

Remember how we talked about every day being exactly the same in a traditional career? With a freelance role, it’s the complete opposite. No two days are the same, and you’ll experience so much flexibility and freedom. 

And whenever you’re feeling the itch to make a change, you can take on new projects, clients, or opportunities. You’re in charge of deciding what you work on and when.

Related: Freelance vs. employee: what’s the difference and which is better?

You’ll create your own ladder to success

For many people in a traditional career, the phrase “climbing the corporate ladder” means trying to find success and work your way up. But as a freelancer, you’ll not only find your own way to success—you’ll decide what that looks like for you. 

Running your own business and working on projects that truly light you up is its own version of success. Having the flexibility to make decisions and skyrocket your income potential is another version. Being able to go spend a few hours by the pool in the middle of the day is another. 

You’ll be able to figure out what success means to you, set goals that you’ll be able to achieve and experience your own unique growth. 

Unlike a traditional career, you’re taking a chance on yourself (which builds confidence!)

Without a traditional career, you’re taking a risk. But instead of looking at it like that, view this change as taking a chance on yourself. 

Nothing is going to give you more confidence than knowing that you can build your own success path. You’ll be calling the shots and setting goals, and then doing the work to meet those goals. Taking a path that seems unknown might feel scary, but it really allows you to build a life based on purpose and passion. 


A traditional career is a great option for many people. But if you’re a more creative person, going freelance might be a way better option for you!

Want to know more about finding your dream path and doing work that lights you up? Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter for all things freelance and creative success. 

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