Saturday, September 15, 2018

Stuck: A Job Post



This isn't going to be a particularly positive or eloquent post, but I'll forge ahead with it anyway because I want to share what's going on in 76K land. I haven't been writing because I've been feeling down. When I'm down, words elude me. But let me try to get something out.

Please note: this is me putting my thoughts on a page and not judging myself in the process. I don't feel the need to censor myself or make myself sound cheerier than I am. Yes, I know other people are experiencing much worse things, but that doesn't mean I can't share my own frustrations. If this bothers you, you don't need to comment on it. 

For the past two months or so, I've been feeling increasingly discouraged and depressed about my job. The reasons are fairly common. Look up any "I hate my corporate job" Reddit thread and you'll get the drift. Clearly I'm not alone in this.

My current strategy is to keep plodding on and doing my best while at the same time looking for another gig. I've been on the hunt for about two months. Despite all the chatter about this being the best job market in years!, I'm not seeing evidence of this supposed job hunter's paradise in my neck of the woods. Or at least, I'm not seeing any jobs that a) I'm qualified for, b) offer a living wage, and c) don't involve sales. But I'm networking and keeping my eyes peeled. 

I feel like I made a handful of mistakes with respect to my career. One, I chose an area of study/expertise that I assumed would offer plenty of job opportunities... but unless I want to move to Texas or Louisiana (I don't), that's not actually the case. I should have done my research. (I didn't.)

Two, when I left my academic job two years ago, I didn't give myself enough time and space to figure out what I wanted to do instead. I just jumped into the first available opportunity for which I was qualified, an opportunity that happened to be another iteration of the job I'd left. I've done that twice now: bounced from one not-right-for-me job straight into the next not-right-for-me job. Why? I guess because I needed the paycheck and I was following the path of least resistance.

As a result, I've backed myself into a corner in my career. My resume gives the distinct impression that I have a deep, vested interest in an area that I actually couldn't care less about. 

I do see the pros of my job: the paycheck, the benefits, the chance to finally pay down my debt. But if you've never experienced it for yourself, it's hard to describe how mentally and emotionally taxing it is to feel as though you are throwing away 40+ hours of your life every week. If you've been there, you know what I mean. It's exhausting. It shouldn't be that way.

In the short-term, I'll keep taking it day by day, looking for other opportunities, re-tooling my resume, doing things I enjoy outside of work, and paying off my student loan so that this frustration is ultimately worthwhile. 

I'm also developing something of a long-term exit strategy. Although our finances dictate that I can't up and quit my job right now, I'm giving serious thought to taking a career break next year. My tentative plan is to pay off my student loan in February (six months from now!) and then save as much money as possible by the end of the summer. That should give us enough of a financial cushion so that I can take six to eight months off.

It wouldn't be a vacation. I'd use that time to learn some new skills (specific areas TBD), brush up on some old ones, and give some deep thought to what it is I want to do. It would be a risk, but I think it would be a worthwhile risk. I can't keep doing what I'm doing and expect anything to change. 

My challenge: to stick it out until then.

19 comments:

  1. That sounds like a great plan. I actually am passionate about my job but I was burnt out. I now do a contract job that has me to be off of work every year for about 3-4 months. It is just what I need to recharge. Good luck!

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    1. That sounds ideal! I love the idea of working for part of the year and recharging for part of the year. I think more companies should go in that direction.

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  2. You are definitely not alone in this - I recognise myself in your words. You get so bogged down you think hating your job is normal - it’s not. Lots of people enjoy their jobs. There is something else out there for you - take the break and you’ll have space to find it. Good luck.

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    1. (Not sure why I appeared as “unknown” - I’m hopeless! It’s Firethe9to5 if you were wondering! )

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    2. Thank you! Taking time off feels a bit scary, but I think that if I have a solid plan, it will ultimately be beneficial.

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  3. It's so difficult to get out of a rut once you're in it but I think the idea of taking time out to broaden your skills is a good one (I did something like this and have never returned to 9-5 working).

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    1. Thank you! I wish I'd put more thought into my skill set while I was in graduate school. I have plenty of skills... but many of them are a bit obscure and don't really mesh with what most employers are looking for these days.

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  4. I can definitely relate to this. I think taking a break and giving yourself time to think sounds like a great idea. Good luck sticking it out for the next year!

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    1. Thank you. I hope I can make myself stick it out. Last week was bad... Had I already had an FU fund in place, I would have been out of there.

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  5. I'm really sorry you're in this place now. I remember feeling like this in my first job out of college, and it ultimately led to joining the Air Force (a significant life change). I'll be following along on your journey and hoping things get better so you can push out these next 6-8 months.

    You can do it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Liz! I appreciate that. It's motivating to hear from people who have had similar experiences and found a way out.

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  6. One piece of advice I give to people who stay in a job while trying to figure out what to be when they grow up is to take advantage of any training/tuition reimbursement/workshop you can. I have taken some odd things because I wanted to try on a new skill and my company was willing to pay for it.

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    1. It is excellent advice, and I'm definitely taking it! I've set up my IDP plan at work to incorporate aspects of professional development that may help me springboard into a different career.

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  7. I feel you. You made me start wondering whether the steps I'm making (like applying for more higher ed) is actually the right path. But I need to give the impression that I'm making progress and applying for higher ed seems like the only palpable step. But I do hope you figure it out soon.

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  8. Sorry this one isn't a good fit. Hopefully, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel will be enough to keep you there for as long as you need to stay.

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  9. I had a long talk with my mentor about this when I was considering what steps I should take next in my career and whether I was about to totally commit myself to a career that I'd been a superstar in but didn't feel strongly about. He agreed that the usual trajectory of life and careers is generally to keep narrowing expertise, which gets harder and harder to break out of, but that if you are wise with your resources then it IS possible to change courses. I hope that this break you're planning is going to let you do just that and that you'll be able to take the time you need to make the right (or righter) choices for you and your family.

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  10. I can relate. I would urge caution on quitting without a plan. Employers look suspiciously on an absence, and it kills your bargaining power. Maybe try to find out what you DO want to do, and try to add some of those skills while working your job. Who knows, maybe at your company there is another department you can move towards. I quit a job with no plan once, and ended up in the same type of position a few months later. My problem was that I didn't have a solid game plan. Anyway, good luck!

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  11. Continued hugs for your crappy job situation. Feeling stuck is the worst, as is taking jobs that you KNOW aren't quite right because the paycheck is the bigger factor. But this sounds like a fantastic plan and omg you're SO CLOSE to paying off the debt!

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  12. I can definitely relate to being stuck and unhappy in a job. It sounds like you have a good plan in place, and I'm sure having student loans out of the way will be a huge relief!

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