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Thread: Career dissatisfaction

  1. #1
    .: PERSISTENCE IS ALL :. Pan_Sonic_000's Avatar
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    Career dissatisfaction

    It seems like every 5 years or so, all the passion I had my work/field vanishes and I'm left trying to balance mounting disinterest against vital considerations such as earning money, saving for retirement and not just sitting at home unemployed like a useless bum. I hoped this recurring process would've stopped in my twenties and I was sure it had until a year ago when I realized that, once again, I just don't give a fuck about this anymore (what I do for a living) and the vision of myself continuing on for another 20 to 30 years at the expense of other fresher interests was horrifying.

    I feel guilty because of all the effort, schooling and time I invested into launching a career in my previously chosen field. The cliched stories of broke students living out of vending machines and digging for change under the sofa cushions as they pursued their dreams was my reality. I worked hard. And the day I got my first offer letter for my first job was one of the grand highlights of my life. But now, the very prospect of getting an offer letter to remain on this path leaves me with a feeling of dread. The money is good and the resume boost would be undeniable - but I don't care about that.

    The pattern seems to be that I work intensely hard at something until I'm really good at it and have applied myself to a few challenging projects successfully. And that's when the boredom sets in. Everyone else seems to want to climb higher and become more secure, successful and established. But that shit doesn't hold my interest for long and then I'm off wanting to learn and do something completely new. It's not that I can't build a little empire for myself, it's that I know I can - so why bother?

    The real problem, I suppose, is the financial implications. I don't want to be jumping between entry level jobs for the rest of my life because I'm always getting bored after a few years. The kind of salary that I need to meet my long term goals doesn't come with most entry level bullshit. My salary now is good, but I have knots in my stomach thinking about doing this for the rest of my life. There must be a compromise somewhere.

    Anyway, I recall lots of posters in the past lamenting similar issues. How do you manage this tendency within yourself? Have you ever completely changed careers? What were you doing and what do you do now?

  2. #2
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I don't manage to manage it. Some of it is craving for new things, some of it is a crawling loathing of the idea that *this is going to be what I do for the rest of my life--whatever *this might happen to be at that moment.

  3. #3
    Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    I've known people who've gone the route of serial entrepreneurs or who tend to work for such people. You can get a fair amount of variety like that. Because you're building with each venture, you aren't starting at an entry-level position with each job. In that sort of industry, moving companies to a better position largely takes the place of promotions within a company. If you're reasonably selective, you can usually find something interesting.

    On the other hand, stability and retirement planning are easier with larger organizations and career-based positions. The key in my case was to find something that would pretty much let me do what I want to do, with the recognition that my interests evolve and change. It can be challenging to find something like that, but it probably depends on your background, field, and interest.

    In any case, I think it's important to identity the common thread in your interests, and to use continuing development in that thread to make sure that you're not being forced to start all over again in an entry level position. When I've hired people, it was based on their interests and level of engagement as much as a formal background.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pan_Sonic_000 View Post
    The real problem, I suppose, is the financial implications. I don't want to be jumping between entry level jobs for the rest of my life because I'm always getting bored after a few years. The kind of salary that I need to meet my long term goals doesn't come with most entry level bullshit. My salary now is good, but I have knots in my stomach thinking about doing this for the rest of my life. There must be a compromise somewhere.
    This is why people get hobbies.

    I decided to go the useless bum route, at least for a while. Maybe when I get bored with this I'll be passionate about my career again, but I doubt it. Right now my hope is to find something in my field that isn't as time consuming as the positions I've had in the past. I think a 40 hr/wk job would seem like a hobby compared to what I had been doing and would leave ample time for me to pursue other interests.

    I also think doing startups would hold my inteest, even if I worked in the same field for all of them.

  5. #5
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    I think I've written off the idea of fulfillment through my career. Kind of sucks that I picked a time-intensive, high-stress, low-paying profession in that respect, but those are the breaks for the moment. In any case, I don't pursue my work with a sense of "mission" nor attach my self-esteem to it. (I have a decent work ethic, which I think is important, but it's about fulfilling my responsibilities to other people, not gauging who I am or what I'm worth based on what job I have and how well I do at it.)

    I would focus on work-life balance if I were in your position. (I'm still focused on money/poverty balance at the moment, although things are improving.) Is it possible to reduce your working hours, even temporarily, while you explore some more personal interests?

    Some burnout is a natural part of life, for the reasons you allude to. (If you like your job because it involves overcoming challenges, exhaustion and ennui will set in whenever anything you're doing becomes less challenging.) It's cyclical, at least for me, and the best answer I've ever come up with is pretty mundane--sometimes you just need a vacation.

  6. #6
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    I write books and I teach. As a teacher, I can change the way I conduct a class, and I can choose to teach another subject. As a writer, after every book it's time to research something new. It's hard to get bored. It would take a lot of time to write about everything in my field.

  7. #7
    Member Aurast's Avatar
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    I feel destined for that same kind of situation. There's nothing I can picture myself doing for the rest of my working life. I have no idea how I'll manage that. Maybe while I still have a little bit of passion left I'll create something worthwhile and sell it for a billion dollars, then run around chasing fickle dreams for the rest of my life (in my Gulfstream). Now that I think of it, though, it's not only the career that bores me but also the place and context. I think moving frequently and switching jobs would help somewhat, get a big helping of new injected into my life every few years. Going freelance and roaming around is another idea.

  8. #8
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    Don't listen to any of us.

  9. #9
    Member Mxx's Avatar
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    Rather than manage the tendency, I seem to be minimizing the risks associated with the tendency: no dependents, no long-term anchoring investments (like housing), no significant debt, investments in education that can be used in multiple fields, and some savings to keep me from being destitute when I start over again. Worst case scenario, I'll use those funds for traveling to places I want to see before I die, and then pull the plug in the place I love the most.

  10. #10
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    I think I've written off the idea of fulfillment through my career.
    Hell, I planned my career path with the assumption that fulfillment as a result will be impossible. My wavering interest is one key factor that kept me from investing too much into education, financially or otherwise, just to land a gig I'll be bored with in a few years. I think the accommodation and occasionally interesting projects associated with technical / IT jobs was enough to sway me that direction. I wanted to be left with the sense that I could truly check-out at 5pm every day and have the energy to pursue other interests at my leisure, but I suppose spreading yourself too thin has its drawbacks. Mostly I enjoy lazily having fun with the SO and friends. If starting a family is in the cards, I'd do well to have free time to work with.
    Last edited by Faust; 12-25-2013 at 08:37 PM.

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