I define an Expectation Hangover® as the “group of undesirable feelings that arise when a desired result isn’t met.” Simply, things don’t turn out the way you planned and you are experiencing symptoms that are as miserable as those from a hangover from alcohol (lethargy, depression, regret, and so on). From what you are describing, it sounds like you definitely are having an Expectation Hangover® – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the career path you are on is wrong for you.

First you have to determine if your expectations were (or are) too high. Think of it this way, if you throw back five cocktails, of course you are going to have a killer hangover the next day. But if you only have one drink, and you feel awful the next day that may be a red flag that something is wrong – like you are allergic to alcohol. Similarly, if you expect to be jumping out of bed everyday to head to work, or expect a significant increase in salary or promotion before you’ve been at the company long enough to prove yourself, then your expectations may be too high.

Often the first year at a job is not exactly thrilling because you are learning the ropes – and because your boss is getting to know your work ethic and style as well. The more you dive in and embrace and accept that you are just beginning on your career path, the less “hungover” you will feel. I see many Gen Y’ers come into a job with grandiose expectations of consistent increased responsibility, validation, and fun which fuels the stereotype that this generation is entitled. So evaluate your expectations before you decide to change course. And don’t be afraid to speak to your boss about your willingness to take on more responsibility. Be sure to start the conversation asking for feedback on his/her perception of your work performance.

On the other hand, reasonable red-flags that may indicate your job is not a fit may include: being at a company for two years with no advancement and/or salary increase, being treated poorly (yelled at, discriminated against, supervisors pushing boundaries like asking you to do too many personal errands, etc), or not respecting the company’s values or work environment. If you believe these red flags are there, then start formatting your resume!

A less dramatic red flag is the realization that you just do not like the field that you are in – and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean you’ve made a huge mistake. Until you actually start working in a given job, how are you supposed to know if you like it? Often the process of elimination is part of our career path. If you have the clarity now that what you are doing is not in line with your goals, skills and interests, then take advantage of this knowledge and start exploring either different types of jobs in the same field or another field all together.

Christine Hassler supports individuals in discovering the answers to the questions: “Who Am I, What do I want, and How do I get it?” She is a Life Coach with a counseling emphasis specializing in relationships, career, finances, self-identity, personal and spiritual growth. Her expertise is centered on the twenty and early thirty something years of life.

Christine has authored two books: Twenty-Something, Twenty-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction and The Twenty-Something Manifesto. As a professional speaker, Christine leads seminars and workshops to audiences around the country. She has spoken to over 10,000 college students as well as to conferences and corporations about generational diversity. Christine has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, E!, Style and PBS, as well as various local television and radio shows, speaking about life issues and “Expectation Hangovers®” – a phenomenon she identified and trademarked.

Christine is the spokesperson for Zync from American Express and the key resource for their Quarterlife Program, which empowers young people to take control of their finances. She also created a life balance curriculum for the Leadership Institute and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100. Beginning this fall, Christine will serve on the faculty of the University of Santa Monica.

Christine grew up in Dallas, graduated cum laude from Northwestern University and received her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

You can connect with Christine on Facebook, through Twitter or at her website.