Jump to content

At what point should one chuck it all...


Clio
 Share

Recommended Posts

...and go live on a sail boat? I do not mean it literally :) Basically, sometimes I feel quite fed up with my current career and I feel that all the stress is literally hurting my health. I enjoy the related prestige and some aspects of the actual work but it consumes all of my energy and time to the point that I feel like I have no work-life balance at all. It is supposed to be what I have been working towards my whole life though. Has anyone experienced this i.e. approaching your ultimate career goal and finding out that it might not be good for your mental health in the long-term? If you ended up changing careers, what was the tipping point and how did it turn out?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...and go live on a sail boat? I do not mean it literally :) Basically, sometimes I feel quite fed up with my current career and I feel that all the stress is literally hurting my health. I enjoy the related prestige and some aspects of the actual work but it consumes all of my energy and time to the point that I feel like I have no work-life balance at all. It is supposed to be what I have been working towards my whole life though. Has anyone experienced this i.e. approaching your ultimate career goal and finding out that it might not be good for your mental health in the long-term? If you ended up changing careers, what was the tipping point and how did it turn out?
I'm pretty fortunate to have pretty much always had a good attitude of working to live rather than living to work. I can answer this question from the [admittedly outsider's] perspective of my wife's situation.

 

She did her residency and first couple years as a clinician in NYC. Very much thrived in the challenge and a lot of the cutting edge aspects of it, but was getting burned out from the 70+ hour work weeks. While having exhausted the charm NYC has to offer was a big chunk of it, the burnout was a big reason she started applying for positions outside the city and state. She accepted a position in the Midwest, very much the antithesis of a city of 9 million people. She suddenly had a reliable 8 - 5 job, but it was dramatically slower. Not as much going on. No significant tech advancements or niche cases to check off the bucket list. Being honest, she struggled with it-- a lot. Her biggest reason for pursuing NYC and a pretty prestigious clinic was to fast-track her way to her own practice. While I can't personally relate, I can understand that it probably takes a lot to transition to an attitude of fulfillment through your personal life rather than depending on your professional.

 

I've always been big on the idea of buying and developing land for self-sustenance and just having something incredibly tangible of your own to cultivate. Granted, she makes good money (fortunately comparable to previous pay despite the dramatically lower cost of living), and I make plenty decent money. I'm not saying it's a universal solution, but insofar as we can, I've been selling her on the idea. Now it was part of the deal to me agreeing to relocate to an area I wasn't terribly enthused about just based on location, but she definitely wasn't excited about it. Was more of a cost of business thing. Now she's got an entire array of beekeeping and homesteading books. We're sitting on a big chunk of savings, actively looking for the right parcel to pop up and viewing various sites. And we're both really excited to make the leap. It's night-and-day between her initial reservations and lack of enthusiasm and now the conversations she's having in front of friends about it.

 

Obviously you don't have to go in for a multitude of acres, goats, and gardens, but I'd say it's very much worth looking into something lasting which you feel would be worth investing in and which you think may give you a sense of personal achievement within your personal life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does it make you happy? Feel fulfilled? Is it a stepping stone to a better life, or the usual life sentence of earning money to pay off the credit card you put all the stuff you think you need on (y'know, the capitalism cycle).

 

Near 10 years ago, I made the decision to 'go live on a sailboat', longterm backpack was my version. That was and still is the most fulfilling thing I ever did. Forget the career that spends my life earning money for other people then retiring in front of the TV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great exercise to go through, if you haven't, is to document how much you actually NEED monetarily, versus how you want.

 

This is budgeting 101. You list out all your expenses and income. This sets the basis for what you are willing to let go of for potential life balance.

 

I think everyone should do this every so often. It can be a real wake up call to see how much the budget can creep.

 

To answer your question about a career not living up to our dream.... I have definitely made career moves and then they weren't as great as I thought they'd be.... and it's definitely a disappointment.

 

In those moments, I focus on what do actually like and not like about the work and then figure out what it would take to make it do-able.

 

Do-able changes usually meant limiting over time and setting boundaries with my boss. It rarely was more money.

 

If it is not do-able, I started working on an exit strategy. That's were the budget aspect really helps....

 

Exit strategies can help strike the balance between working and giving yourself enough time to work on the next step. For example, taking a lower paid job, with less demand, so then I can take classes at night to change fields.

 

Its always going to come down to you changing what you don't like about life. It is your life, you are the only one that can change it.

 

So don't throw it all away.... start making a plan. Sometimes just knowing I'm working on changing something makes it more bearable...

 

And you know what they say, God helps those that help themselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear this. Unfortunately burn-out can happen. Dream jobs, intense jobs...just about every job can experience burn-out. Even though jobs may be the source the key is to diffuse this by mixing up what happens outside of work. Take some classes or courses at the local university, volunteer, join some groups and clubs. Mixing up the routine and rut can help decrease the feeling of burn-out.

 

Plan a brief vacation, get a change of scene. It's the daily grind without much reward that can lead to this. So build up the reward aspect by adding more pleasurable and interesting things to look forward to in your down time. Tedium is stressful.

Basically, sometimes I feel quite fed up with my current career and I feel that all the stress is literally hurting my health. I feel like I have no work-life balance at all.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What makes you stay in this career? The money and prestige? Do those outweigh your mental health? Will your job always be like this? Are there other options in your field to perhaps scale down your work hours and still make a good living?

 

I stay due to the prestige, the sense of achievement it offers me at times and because I have not come up with a more enticing alternative. If I get the promotion I have been working towards, my current job will become even more demanding though. The other option is much less demanding mentally but low prestige and can be stressful physically and psychologically. The money is not so much the problem as the fact that I would have to put up with difficult people, physical stressors, working on shifts and in general lots of crap at times. Basically, I need to come up with a plan C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stay due to the prestige, the sense of achievement it offers me at times and because I have not come up with a more enticing alternative. If I get the promotion I have been working towards, my current job will become even more demanding though. The other option is much less demanding mentally but low prestige and can be stressful physically and psychologically. The money is not so much the problem as the fact that I would have to put up with difficult people, physical stressors, working on shifts and in general lots of crap at times. Basically, I need to come up with a plan C.
that's a lot to deal with for prestige. I know people do things for the prestige. I'm curious and I'm not asking this to be snarky or smart or to judge you, but....

 

why do you need the prestige? What does it actually do or get you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously you don't have to go in for a multitude of acres, goats, and gardens, but I'd say it's very much worth looking into something lasting which you feel would be worth investing in and which you think may give you a sense of personal achievement within your personal life.

 

Thank you for your perspective. I envy you both :) All the best! I think that my problem is that the last four years, I have had no personal life at all. I changed cities and jobs and that lead to a dramatic shrinkage of my immediate social support system. I think that if I had a partner/ family of my own, I would deal with certain aspects of my current experience in a more balanced way but it is what it is. The answer could indeed be seeking out a sense of personal achievement in alternative nonwork-related ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

why do you need the prestige? What does it actually do or get you?

 

It keeps me from feeling a failure due to conditioning that I received from my grandma while growing up. Basically, I am the product of two very successful parents and I was repeatedly told as a child that I needed to become better than them. My parents are exceptional in multiple aspects to the point that I will never surpass them. This career is the closest thing to somewhat keeping up. I know what's going on in my mind in a logical level (courtesy of psychoanalysis therapy) but the emotional side of it is whole other beast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I ask how old you are?

 

I ask because I think these thoughts are a mandatory stage in adulthood, and a wonderful one. We never really have any idea what we're supposed to do with our lives, so we come up with some goals that seem like paths to meaning—from writing novels to making millions, from white picket fences to industrial lofts with mid-century furnishings—and then go about the experiment of trying to realize them. Along the way, the goals tend to change shape, particularly as they get realized or close to realized.

 

Your definition of "success" and "exceptional" sounds potentially narrow to me, or at least generated by others more than by your own spirit. That's great when we're young, and adulthood is an abstraction, but it loses traction over time, as we inhabit our actual selves as adults. Might be worth challenging that a bit, or at least seeing if you can define "success" on your own terms, rather than terms set by others. Speaking for myself, my own version of success, and how I measure it, is always in flux and has changed drastically from the time I was 20 to 40. As a result, my life and career have changed too, sometimes subtly, sometimes pretty drastically.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does it make you happy? Feel fulfilled? Is it a stepping stone to a better life, or the usual life sentence of earning money to pay off the credit card you put all the stuff you think you need on (y'know, the capitalism cycle).

 

Near 10 years ago, I made the decision to 'go live on a sailboat', longterm backpack was my version. That was and still is the most fulfilling thing I ever did. Forget the career that spends my life earning money for other people then retiring in front of the TV.

 

My job is interesting and varied. I do feel fulfiled by certain aspects of it, which is why I made this post. If I were to let it all go, I don't think I could go back if I changed my mind. Once, you came back from your trip were you able to pick things up from where you left job wise or did you do something different altogether?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear this. Unfortunately burn-out can happen. Dream jobs, intense jobs...just about every job can experience burn-out. Even though jobs may be the source the key is to diffuse this by mixing up what happens outside of work. Take some classes or courses at the local university, volunteer, join some groups and clubs. Mixing up the routine and rut can help decrease the feeling of burn-out.

 

Plan a brief vacation, get a change of scene. It's the daily grind without much reward that can lead to this. So build up the reward aspect by adding more pleasurable and interesting things to look forward to in your down time. Tedium is stressful.

 

You are right about the rut aspect making things worse. I will try to address it. Thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It keeps me from feeling a failure due to conditioning that I received from my grandma while growing up. Basically, I am the product of two very successful parents and I was repeatedly told as a child that I needed to become better than them. My parents are exceptional in multiple aspects to the point that I will never surpass them. This career is the closest thing to somewhat keeping up. I know what's going on in my mind in a logical level (courtesy of psychoanalysis therapy) but the emotional side of it is whole other beast.
I do understand that. Growing up I always knew i needed to gain a certain level of success in order to life a certain life.

 

Bluecastle makes a good point about success meaning different things to different people.

 

Family... gotta love them... all the good advice and added freaking pressure one can stand readily available, at all times.

 

I think many (all) of us are shaped by this pressure and the expectations. So there is some benefit... we work harder, we strive father, we push ourselves. It's good.

 

but! And this is the truth, you're not really living your own life until you are doing it all for yourself and your own goals. Nothing feels as good as living your own life, on your own terms.

 

loyalty and family responsibilities all great... but I think you're learning, that's not gonna be enough to be happy.

 

At some point, your happiness is all on you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your definition of "success" and "exceptional" sounds potentially narrow to me, or at least generated by others more than by your own spirit. That's great when we're young, and adulthood is an abstraction, but it loses traction over time, as we inhabit our actual selves as adults. Might be worth challenging that a bit, or at least seeing if you can define "success" on your own terms, rather than terms set by others.

 

Thank for your perspective. Let's just say that I m old enough to know what you mean. You are right and I can redefine success on my own terms if needed. The trouble is that I do it on a logical level but my emotional self seems to resist and keeps running the same obsolete message. Maybe it's a matter of needing more time for the redefinition to sink in...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...and go live on a sail boat? I do not mean it literally :)

 

Okay, start here. Chuck your current job and do what else, literally?

 

Turning a problem into an abstraction isn't the best way to resolve it, so think in terms of concrete answers. If not 'this,' then what else might you want to pursue instead?

 

There are ways to downsize a career, but none of us know you well enough to suggest what else you may want to leap toward. So I'd make this less about what I want to leave and more about what I'd rather do. OR, ways that I could make my current role more likable and manageable.

 

Brainstorm with friends and family and make lists: things that I could do instead, and things that I could do to balance what I have now. See what ideas shake out that you could tailor to your own life.

 

If you'd like to do this with us, tell us what it is you do now, what you do like about it and what aspects of it bother you and make it too much to handle. List some skills that might be transferrable to something else. Consider geography: is there anywhere else you'd rather live?

 

Give yourself and us something to work with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we look for happiness in strictly external things, we create a recipe for disappointment. The immediate physical needs for survival must be met, but once they are, it is then the soul that looks to be nourished. Material pursuits can take one only so far in the quest for fulfillment. Happiness, like all emotions, is a temporary state of being, it comes and goes. But contentment is secure when it comes from doing the things that gratify our spirit.

 

You have to take an honest look at yourself to know what those things are before you can take the path from which you acquire the greatest satisfaction. I took the path of an artist, not one that would make many people happy. Especially if you're fond of eating everyday and wearing clothes and having a place to sleep, lol.

 

But I wouldn't trade it for anything. Yes, I struggle sometimes, but the struggle is there for all of us regardless of our chosen walk in life. It's doing the things that honorably answer our most honest questions about our personal desire, drive and motivation that bring us the most genuine reward. It's a question that requires us to tune out the social conditioning of what we're "supposed to be" in order to arrive at a true answer. A scary proposition for many, it requires some courage and some mettle, but it can be accomplished.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...