Starting a new career always involves some element of playing Russian roulette. There’s simply no way to know for sure that things will turn out as you expect them to. Doing lots of research and preparation before embarking on a career change will undoubtedly help you feel more confident that you are on the right career path for you, but the inescapable truth is that there are some things that you can only discover once you’re in the job. But don’t let the fear of the unknown deter you from going for that new job or changing career. There’s actually one foolproof way of determining if an industry will be a good fit for you before you quit your job – just take a close look at those at the top of the field.

Findings from a 2017 study by the University of Toronto have shown that people can reliably tell if someone is richer or poorer than average just by looking at their face when at rest. According to the study authors, this is because over time, faces start to permanently reflect and reveal the life experiences of their owners. There’s just one catch: you have to look at the face when it’s at rest.

But why does this matter to you and your job search? Because faces don’t just reveal wealth, they reveal overall happiness and contentment. We all spend the vast majority of our lives at work, so the work you do forms the overwhelming majority of your life experience. If you’re in a job and work environment that triggers feelings of contentment, fulfilment, challenge and growth, you’re more likely to radiate happiness and contentment, whereas if the work you do is thankless, cut-throat and miserable, guess what expression will be etched on your face?

So, if you’re not sure if your dream field is for you, closely study those who’ve been in the field for more than a decade. But don’t just study their faces, look at their behaviours, their health, their language and overall mindset. Look at them as a whole. Are they who you want to be in 10 years’ time?

It’s true that there are exceptions to all rules: just because one person hasn’t thrived in a field, does not mean the same will be true for you. However, if you find that there’s an obvious trend and people in your dream field tend to end up in the same physical, mental, emotional or behavioural place after a while in the job, that’s not a coincidence.

It’s called the plasticity theory, and research has shown that work experiences in adulthood can lead to personality changes. In fact, a classic study published in the Journal of Personality found that work experiences that happen between the ages of 27 and 43 years can significantly change the personality of women.

So if you’re struggling to work out if a particular career is a good fit for you or if you’re on the right career path, go and spend some time in the company of those doing the job.

That’s all the information you need to make that final decision.

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