Author Topic: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?  (Read 1936 times)

eljefe-speaks

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Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« on: August 16, 2018, 09:24:46 AM »
You get older and (hopefully) you figure some things out about yourself. What took me too many years to realize is this: I handle stress particularly poorly as compared to the general population. I believe this is the product of growing up in a dysfunctional family with an unpredictable, alcoholic, father who also had significant mental health problems. When I am in a stressful job, I find life to be un-enjoyable. It rides my mind all the time. I am in a stressful job right now. Unfortunately I am about 10 years from FI.

I am wondering if any Mustachians have ever specifically made a career choice where s/he specifically sought out low-stress employment just for the quality-of-life boost. I wonder if s/he could offer any advice in this area. Are there any jobs to be had that are low-stress but still offer agreeable compensation (~$40k) or is that the Holy Grail?

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2018, 09:30:18 AM »
A LOT of forumites have chosen this option, yep!

And yes, there are low-stress jobs that pay that much...but it depends on field of work as well as geographic location. A filing clerk (for example) will receive much higher pay in one location than in another, often based on cost-of-living or on competition (or lack of) for a given spot.

What is low-stress to you? I know someone IRL who recently quit working at a library to work with a gaggle of children, as she found the latter far less stressful. It would be the opposite for me! I know someone else who quit a $25/hr job supporting one pretty easy youth in order to hop around at different gigs. Again, for me it would have been the opposite.

eljefe-speaks

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2018, 09:43:08 AM »
What is low-stress to you?

Good points, I guess stress is different things to different people. I am stressed from looming deadlines, lack of control over my own work (which is largely dependent on other people meeting their deadlines), the pressure of keeping multiple balls in there air at once, unrealistic expectations from management, etc. etc. I guess this is run-of-the-mill office stuff.

The last job I had where I was NOT stressed - and actually kinda liked the job - was one where my tasks were very clear and manageable and I felt effective. Coworkers and customers alike told me regularly that I was doing a good job. That was huge for job satisfaction.

But, I dunno, the more I think about this, I guess climbing the career ladder and earning more pay simply equate to more complicated, convoluted, and stressful tasks. Maybe these are just career growing pains? 

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2018, 09:51:27 AM »
It seems to vary. Plenty of people have high-pay, low-stress jobs. But then the economy changes, or their manager is replaced with a goofball, or another variable changes and suddenly they have a high-stress job.

I know some very stressed-out lawyers, and an excellent one who feels super happy and chill the vast majority of the time. Her precise field within law + her environment + her approach make it low-stress for her. Ditto the corporate accountants I know.

If there's a mismatch between personality and field, personality and environment, work ethic of employee vs manager, preference for fast vs slow speed...any of these and countless other factors will result in stress, regardless of stage of career.

Zikoris

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2018, 12:10:59 PM »
I've prioritized low stress, chill jobs for maybe - seven years now? It's been great. I do stuff like receptionist or office clerk roles in not-crazy offices. I highly recommend it. If there's a change in management that makes the job stressful or unpleasant, I quit and go elsewhere. I have a solid work history and references that make that fairly easy.

My partner recently quit his job to freelance full time, and he's been more relaxed and happy than I've ever seen him. He makes less money, but neither of us cares. We're kind of at the point where basically nothing financial matters anymore and we can just do whatever we want. It's very freeing.

okcisok

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2018, 12:23:31 PM »
After my last super-stressful job (event planning), I evaluated what I was looking for that would NOT stress me out. I started talking to friends and networking in a casual way. Saying things like "I researched the burnout rate for my industry and the ceiling seems to be 5 years. I'm looking to change careers before then, so that I'm still effective and engaged" makes it sound professional and well thought out.

I found a job that would be much lower stress for most people, a work-at-home-gig where I had few deadlines and it fit my personality. It did offer excellent benefits.

Six months and a prescription for anti-depressants later, I realized that it wasn't the 'job' that was stressful, it was the environment. I loved the charge of pulling off a successful event, loved the organization and logistics. I hated being bully-managed by a near sociopath with anger management issues in a misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic company. It took me a change of industry to realize what I loved.

I put out feelers and now have an excellent job in an excellent company with a stellar reputation and great benefits.

To summarize, start asking around. If your cousin's roommate is in your field, ask about their work environment. Mention that you're looking for X, Y, and Z in your work environment, and do they know of anywhere that meets those criteria? Go to job fairs and ask the rep about their specific work vibe. You can find something you enjoy in a good place. Good luck!

Brother Esau

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2018, 01:12:05 PM »
Yes, I did exactly this last year. I'm an engineer. Left a private industry job for a municipal job. Not that I didn't like my last job but the one now is zero stress, no deadlines, very chill environment. A slight pay cut but better benefits so sort of a wash there. 

mozar

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2018, 01:43:42 PM »
Quote
I handle stress particularly poorly as compared to the general population

I think most people would prefer not to be in stressful situations. It's part of our society to pretend like we aren't stressed out by it.

gooki

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2018, 12:56:42 AM »
I went down this option. I got 4.5 years of low stress employment, then a couple of stressfull months (due to other people's incompetence, they have since left).

Pay is competitive, but I know I could earn 30% more by returning to my higher stress former employer.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 01:01:26 AM by gooki »

doneby35

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2018, 07:49:11 AM »
I've also been thinking about low stress employment. Currently in the IT world, and i've taken steps towards not stressing and pleasing everyone around me already, for example, it's fairly common in my field to be available after business hours/weekends but I don't even entertain that idea, or about meeting deadlines, i don't even think about it, i do what I can at a slower and more comfortable pace. I've even stopped worrying about being the best performing employee and promotions/raises because money does not motivate me anymore and i've been much happier.
If you're not happy with your job, try to make some of those changes yourself if possible. If not, nothing wrong with finding low-stress employment as long as you're enjoying it and you're frugal enough for the income changes.

We be free if we try

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2018, 09:51:46 AM »
Yes, I have experience with both the dysfunctional childhood, and with finding some types of work too stressful for me to be mentally healthy. I'm downshifted, and quit a job last year to freelance for myself. I'm working less, but if I worked the same hours, it would be more money than the job. For me, it helps to set my own deadlines, allowing myself plenty of time to do a good job, staying away from difficult clients and projects that look high stress. Of course, I don't have career ambition - hope to eventually transition to a totally different field (low-pay-but-meaningful.) I suspect that if you set an intention to find another job or independent way to make $40k /year in a way that feels healthier for you, and spend some energy making it happen, you'll get there. Best wishes!

EconDiva

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2018, 11:03:43 AM »
It seems to vary. Plenty of people have high-pay, low-stress jobs. But then the economy changes, or their manager is replaced with a goofball, or another variable changes and suddenly they have a high-stress job.

I know some very stressed-out lawyers, and an excellent one who feels super happy and chill the vast majority of the time. Her precise field within law + her environment + her approach make it low-stress for her. Ditto the corporate accountants I know.

If there's a mismatch between personality and field, personality and environment, work ethic of employee vs manager, preference for fast vs slow speed...any of these and countless other factors will result in stress, regardless of stage of career.

Great point...totally agree with the bolded.  It's so important to evaluate/understand what causes 'you' stress in order to determine what type of work would be low stress for you. 

But it's great OP recognizes the stress issue and wants to do something about it...I know some people who just feel there is no alternative to their current work situation when indeed there is. 

Tuskalusa

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2018, 11:18:31 AM »
Agree with what others have said in this forum. I think you have to figure out if the issue is with:
- Your choice of job
- Your employer/Manager

Either way, it seems like itís time to find a new job. Iíve had both situations.

The first time I changed jobs, I was working for an employer with a particularly aggressive culture.  A lot of people would complain about one of the other companies we worked with, commenting on their slower pace and nicer attitudes. I got a job there and stayed for 10 years!

The second time I changed jobs, I was more done with the corporate rat race in general. I went to work for a nonprofit. Totally different environment. While I still have a lot of projects to manage, the pace and attitude is quite different...more  focused on taking the right amount of time to deliver a good product to serve the greater good. While the pay is significantly lower than corporate, my stress level is much lower too. Also, I have amazing benefits and vacation, which are more aligned with my priorities now.

Sounds like itís time for you to look at you options. Letís us know what you find!

Mr. Green

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2018, 11:27:21 AM »
After I FIREd the second time I took what was supposed to be a part-time job at Publix. I ended up quitting after 2 months because it wasn't really part-time (38-40 hours) but I really enjoyed the job. I loved the physicality of it and the fact that it was very low stress. If something went wrong the worst thing that happened was some groceries didn't make it onto the shelf or all the shelves weren't quite as pretty as they should have been. If I was trying to coast to FIRE and didn't mind the hours of working retail I would take another job like that in a heartbeat.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2018, 11:29:39 AM »
snip..... Unfortunately I am about 10 years from FI.

snip.... agreeable compensation (~$40k) or is that the Holy Grail?

If you can calculate your time to FI you probably have "FU Money", so you can be free of fear of your job (ie missing a paycheck or two won't put you in the streets.

As other posters have noted, stress and compensation are not necessarily related.   Some low paying jobs are high stress. Think micromanagement by a boss getting paid $1/hour more than you.  Don't grovel for a low paying job, shoot for the highest compensation/stress ratio.

eljefe-speaks

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2018, 10:23:27 AM »
Thanks for the responses everyone! I have my eyes and ears out and I am combing the job sites to see what I can come up with.

Letís us know what you find!

Will do!

ETBen

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2018, 11:15:31 AM »
As others have said, stress comes in a lot of forms. My job is high earning but not stressful. Because responsibility for a lot of things, many out of my control, donít stress me. They used to but Iíve decided to not care anymore about what people think. Theyíre miserable people lol.

But sitting in an office all week and not having flexible time for my kids would stress me out.

civil4life

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2018, 11:38:06 AM »
For me the biggest stresser at work has been my supervisor.  I am a project manager and have been doing it for 10 years now.  When I have had a low key hands off boss the stress level was significantly less than when I have had micro-managers.  Plus the office environment in general I feel is very important. 

I have not taken a pay cut however I did choose to go from a 2 mile commute to a 30 mile commute.  It was absolutely worth it.

Some of the factors that are hard to find out in an interview are the office environment pieces.  I have started asking about the office atmosphere and asking a hiring manager what their management style is like.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2018, 06:21:45 PM »
I did this- went from $100,000 to $40,000 and I LOVE my job now. Iím a big crier, and my old job was sucking the life out of me and I hated it from day one. I was crying for a couple hours at least 4 days a week. Now Iím so low stressed, itís great! Plus Iím hoping for a promotion in about 4 months, up to around $55,000. Slowly working my way back up the income ladder. I would rather work 15 years more years at a job I enjoy rather than  hate my life for a shorter 10 year working career
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 06:23:23 PM by Apple_Tango »

Linda_Norway

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2018, 04:50:27 AM »
The major stress factors in my previous job were: commuting by train to the city and being sited at the customer, which could be anywhere in the city and required a lot of extra travel in my own time.
I found a relevant job in my field in my own home town, for a 10% or so reduction in salary. It is great to not have to commute by train anymore with all the usual delays and unpredictability. It is a high stress job though, at certain times. Last year became too bad for me, as I had just way too much to do and too much responsibility. I will start working 80% from next month, another reduction in salary, but I think it will save my sanity having long weekends every week.

When you mentioned a low stress job with good pay, I had to think of the security guys at my work. They work at the reception of our company, either day time, evening or night shift. They also do weekends. I think if you could get such a job and concentrate on working weekends and night shifts, it could make decent pay.

eljefe-speaks

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2018, 09:32:58 AM »
I did this- went from $100,000 to $40,000 and I LOVE my job now. Iím a big crier, and my old job was sucking the life out of me and I hated it from day one. I was crying for a couple hours at least 4 days a week. Now Iím so low stressed, itís great! Plus Iím hoping for a promotion in about 4 months, up to around $55,000. Slowly working my way back up the income ladder. I would rather work 15 years more years at a job I enjoy rather than  hate my life for a shorter 10 year working career

Would you mind mentioning what career you moved from/to? Nothing too specific or anything.

eljefe-speaks

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2018, 09:33:58 AM »
I have not taken a pay cut however I did choose to go from a 2 mile commute to a 30 mile commute.  It was absolutely worth it.

Meaning the new job is so much less stressful that it more than makes up for the much longer commute?

eljefe-speaks

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2018, 09:39:00 AM »
When you mentioned a low stress job with good pay, I had to think of the security guys at my work. They work at the reception of our company, either day time, evening or night shift. They also do weekends. I think if you could get such a job and concentrate on working weekends and night shifts, it could make decent pay.

Haha, yes, there is security in the lobby of my building and I could not imagine anything less stressful. They say hello to everyone in the morning and goodbye to everyone at the end of the day. There are surely certain types of stressful security jobs, but security in the lobby of an office tower, not so much. Unless of course you're in an action movie. Those security guards have a tough life. If you're a security guard and Bruce Willis walks in, run!

omachi

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2018, 09:42:07 AM »
I took a slightly different approach by reducing hours instead of finding something different. I generally like the people I work with and the pay is good, so figured I'd give that a shot before trying to find lower stress but full time work (probably at the same pay I'm making part time now). It's been working out quite well. The job still has it's stressful periods, but at about half time, I have a whole lot more time to recover with four day weeks and the more frequent week off here and there. It's also changed the job a little, as there's just less one can do in the reduced amount of time, thus there's easy pushback on taking on more tasks and easy to pass on the high stress ones.

Might not be an option, but may be worth looking into.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2018, 09:16:08 PM »
I did this- went from $100,000 to $40,000 and I LOVE my job now. Iím a big crier, and my old job was sucking the life out of me and I hated it from day one. I was crying for a couple hours at least 4 days a week. Now Iím so low stressed, itís great! Plus Iím hoping for a promotion in about 4 months, up to around $55,000. Slowly working my way back up the income ladder. I would rather work 15 years more years at a job I enjoy rather than  hate my life for a shorter 10 year working career

Would you mind mentioning what career you moved from/to? Nothing too specific or anything.

Went from a job in a specialized healthcare field to a non-healthcare government job. I donít want to be more specific than that. My benefits are much better too- 10 paid holidays per year, a 401k, an HSA, and although both jobs involve commuting in a car as a major part of the job, the old job reimbursed at $0.33 per mile, new job at $0.55 per mile.

civil4life

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Re: Deliberately Seek Low-Stress Employment?
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2018, 03:05:35 PM »
I have not taken a pay cut however I did choose to go from a 2 mile commute to a 30 mile commute.  It was absolutely worth it.

Meaning the new job is so much less stressful that it more than makes up for the much longer commute?
Yes the job was less stressful, but I commute to near DC so really crappy.  I started listening to audiobooks.  Now I get to enjoy a good book while driving.  It makes it way more pleasant.