Author Topic: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?  (Read 3477 times)

Apple_Tango

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Life Situation: Single, 26, Female, No dependents, USA. Graduated university and got my first career job in 2015 but have been working odd jobs while going to school since 2009. I am a traveling healthcare provider living in my RV...and I hate my career. I make excellent money but I want opinions on whether I should just grind it out, work for 8 more years and then FIRE, or pursue a different industry (maybe needing more education) and have a job that pays less, FIRE later, but have a happier 8 years. I'm leaning toward the latter. It just sucks that I've spent so much time and money getting my degree that is so specialized that I can't do anything else with it (I'm not a nurse, my career is very specialized). Good news is that I paid off my student loans in 2015, so that's not hanging over me. 


Gross Salary/Wages
: $38,000 in gross taxable income. However I net around $6000 per month due to travel stipends which is equal to $72,000/year net. 

Deductions: 401k is 912/mo (10,944/year), IRA is maxed at $412/mo ($5,500/year). I do a mix of Roth and traditional for both accounts.   

Other Ordinary Income: I have a side hustle that I can do online in my pjs that pulls a small amount ($11/hr), and I can pick up shift work whenever I want ($50/hr). This is not included in my above gross salary figure.

Qualified Dividends & Long Term Capital Gains: n/a

Rental Income: I have a rental house, owned with my mom. I am in debt to her for $118,000 at 0% interest. This house brings in a net profit of $10,000 per year but I am paying back my "loan" with my half so I currently receive nothing. If I pay extra towards my mom, hopefully in about 8-10 years I will start receiving my $5,000 per year. If I just wait for the houe to start cash flowing for me, it will be about 23 years and we might have sold it by then and I will hopefully have some profit. (or honestly I might have inherited it all although I hope not!) Weird situation.

Taxes:
Federal: 268/mo, $3,216/year
State: $92/mo, $1,104/year
SSI:$185/mo, $2,220/year
Medicare: $43/mo, $516/year
Property: $1500 per year ($125/month)
MONTHLY TAXES: $713
YEARLY TAXES: $8,556

Current expenses:
Rent: $525/mo
Food: $500/mo
Gas: $500/month (don't be too hard on me- i make about $900 in mileage reimbursement, so driving is actually $400/mo profit.)
Car loan (trust me i know this is an EMERGENCY): I am currently paying $3500 per month and this should be dust in 4 more months. The actual payment is $750/mo but I am prepaid by about 3 years at this time. It's a clown truck..needed to pull my RV. stupid purchase.
Internet, phone, cable: $70/ mo
Utilities: $300/mo
Health Insurance: $192/mo (for EXCELLENT coverage through work)
Car Insurance: $135/mo
Short term Disability Insurance: $40/mo
Dental Insurance: $16/mo
Misc: $200/mo.

Total Expenses: $5978 per month out of $6,000 net. In 4 months my expenses will drop to 2,478. If I stop my traveling job and move back home with my mom and get a permanent job in the same industry, my expenses will drop to around 1,553. However my taxable income will rise from $38,000 gross to $75,00 gross. My net paycheck would drop from $6000/mo to around $4500/mo. A net loss of around $1000 per month. And of course my food bill is high, I know I can cut that in half if needed.

Assets:
Car: $40,000 (2016 Ford F-250 diesel, with remaining loan balance of $15,000 at 1.7%)
RV: $4,000 (2006 Coachmen Chaparral fifth wheel)
Bank Account liquid savings/emergency fund: $15,716
Vanguard Roth IRA: $41,610
Vanguard Traditional IRA: $3,011
Vanguard "FIRE investments": $23,237 (my FIRE goal in this account is $600,000, contributing 3,500 per month I can hopefully make it here in 10 years)
Roth 401k (just became eligible to participate last month): $778
Traditional 401k (just became eligible to participate last month): $778

TOTAL NET WORTH: $113,414

Specific Question(s): Bottom line is I hate my job. I'm not sure if it's worth it to extend my FIRE by 5 years or more, to get a new career, if I currently only have 8-10 years to go in my current career anyway. What should I do? Things I like about my current job: It is good on paper, I get to travel and the money is great, it is flexible and I can change the city and job that I'm working at every 13 weeks when my contract runs out. And I liked being a student and learning about my industry.
Things I don't like: It is very stressful and I'm tired of being away from family and friends all the time. I feel like I'm wasting my patients time because things that I work on with them only helps about 1/10 people, and it is a giant drain on medicare as a whole. I fantasize about working at costco, or walking dogs, or being a fitness instructor. I'm actually thinking about going back to school to be an American Sign Language Interpreter. However this is a 2 year educational tract, with not much money being made until passing all certifications around year 5. Even if I had my dream, low stress, flexible job with a modest salary, I think I would be pursuing FIRE just to have the FU money to walk away when I want to have kids, or when new management takes over and inevitably makes things hell.  Therefore it seems not really worth it to pursue.

If I went back to school, I could stay in my current industry part time and pick up shift work for around $50-60 an hour. I'm worried about the cost of health insurance, the opportunity cost of missing my full time paycheck, and what if I go through all of it to realize that it's not the job that I hate, it's the 40 hour 9-5 rat race that I hate, and that nothing will make me satisfied (I suspect that's it).

Advice??? Should I just buckle down on my savings? I'm trying to start some other side hustles as well that are passive income earners but I feel lost.



« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 09:09:12 PM by CrueltyFreeRV »
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

maizeman

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How much shift work could you realistically pick up? At $50/hour, you'd only need to work three weeks as month (or about three days a week) to match your current net income after travel stipends.

You mention that the two big things you don't like about your current job are the stress and the traveling. Do you have a sense of how much of your unhappiness comes from each of those?

If you could cut back to 3/4th time (or maybe even less if living in one city would let you reduce food and gas spending) and get to put down roots in a single location, would that make you happier? Or is the actual content of your job making you miserable enough that you just need to get out of the field entirely.

Apple_Tango

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Very good points that I have considered. Many places in my hometown are desperate for help on Saturdays and Sundays because patients have to be seen 7 days a week. So i could work 6-8 hours on Sat and Sun and make an average of $2800 gross per month. Also if I move back home I would sell my truck and RV and probably use that cash to buy a $10,000-$15,000 hybrid car with cash, and have about $28,000 cash left over to invest in FIRE. So that will help for the first year at least.

The traveling, while fun, has a definite downside of loneliness. I have now learned that while I love having my RV, I don't like living in it because I need a home base to feel secure, with friends and family around. 

But the thing I really don't like is the job itself. I love all the perks and the income, but I hate the actual work because I think it is not making a difference in people's lives. I actually feel that I only make a difference with about 1/10 people that I work with, and the rest is just wasting Medicare dollars and making the cost of healthcare worse for the rest of us. So those Saturdays and Sundays will be rough, but potentially needed as I transition to something else. I am also thinking that if i can specialize in a niche market in my field that actually helps people, I could maybe start a private practice that would be fulfilling. So many thoughts swirling around in my head.
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

maizeman

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But the thing I really don't like is the job itself. I love all the perks and the income, but I hate the actual work because I think it is not making a difference in people's lives. I actually feel that I only make a difference with about 1/10 people that I work with, and the rest is just wasting Medicare dollars and making the cost of healthcare worse for the rest of us.

Yup. Okay, that seems pretty clear that you need to get out of your current career then. Putting up with a pointless job for a few more years (particularly working reduced hours) to hit FIRE is something I'd sometimes encourage people to do. But spending years of your life doing something you feel is an active drag on society as a whole... no, that's definitely when it is time to push the eject button.

Linda_Norway

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To me it doesn't make sense to go work at Cosco if you are quite smart. Also schooling yourself to a whole new career, would be a big step and you would start down at the ladder. Why not do parttime, maybe online, reschooling in the healthcare business, as that is where you have a specialization? Isn't there a basic study that can give you a start for another specialization?

If you would save really hardcore on any way you can and work all the extra hours you feel comfortable with, could you reduce your 8 years to go to perhaps 5 years? Would that be doable?

Could you keep the rent from the house for yourself to invest and pay back the house to your mum when the house is sold? Then you will get less for it, but you might have had good stock growth in the mean time, using borrowed money.

Is there a cheaper option to do your mobile job, combined with renting a room locally? Could that be cheaper than owning a large car and an RV?

Apple_Tango

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This is a good idea. I can apply to more contract hours while planning on taking a few classes totally outside of my career, and continuing education inside of my career to specialize in something different, hopefully to find some happiness.  I'm worried about not having my health insurance covered by an employer, that's my main concern if I go this route for a few years. I'll have to search this forum and see what other people do about health insurance.
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

Playing with Fire UK

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Even if I had my dream, low stress, flexible job with a modest salary, I think I would be pursuing FIRE just to have the FU money to walk away when I want to have kids, or when new management takes over and inevitably makes things hell. 

I'm similar to this. I will never be one of those people who enjoys or looks forward to paid work. I could have the most perfect job, but I'd grow to resent it after a while.

For me, the answer would be to stay with the current role, pick up some extra shifts when I could, cut down spending, and watch the big countdown clock tick down to FIRE. I've made a couple of job and career moves looking for "the one", and it just gets my hopes up all over again. Now I only move for money or free time.

You will know whether this resonates with you or not. It is okay to be someone who doesn't enjoy work.

Sun Hat

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In the meantime, focus on the 10% that your work is helping. While I don't advocate for doing work that you hate, I'm very familiar with having 90% of my work be essentially thrown away (at great expense to the taxpayer). The thing that made it bearable for me was to dwell on those few but immensely rewarding instances where my work made a tangible difference.

If you can identify what differentiates the 10% experiences from the rest, it may help you identify what kinds of work that you want to do in the future.
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civil4life

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It sounds like to me that you probably like what you do, but hate the bureaucracy/politics that come with it.  Most likely you will never find a place without the BS or wasted money.

I am a little confused.  Are you still able to do your job without the travel?  That seems like it might be helpful.  Although you seem torn about the perks of the travel.  Would it help to get some sort of small pet compatible with an RV.  Maybe a guinea pig.  They can be very social creatures.

Just curious what are the rent and utilities for?  Are they for the house that you share with your mom?  It does not sound like you have much of an interest in this property.  I like the idea of seeing if you could work out some other deal with your mom.

 
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Apple_Tango

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It sounds like to me that you probably like what you do, but hate the bureaucracy/politics that come with it.  Most likely you will never find a place without the BS or wasted money.

Yes I really love what I do, when I have control over what patients I see and how long I see them. When management gets involved and asks me to keep seeing them for "x" amount of weeks, when I feel there is truly no benefit to continuing, I start seeing red.  I'm good at my job- I've been asked to work full time with the companies where contracts expired in 4/6 instances (one of my supervisors said I was the best contractor they have ever had). The other 2 times they hired a full time person and didn't need me anymore. I just find that 13 weeks is *just* enough time for me to start feeling the strain from all the bureaucrazy (intentional typo there...did I just create a word?).

I am a little confused.  Are you still able to do your job without the travel?  That seems like it might be helpful.  Although you seem torn about the perks of the travel.  Would it help to get some sort of small pet compatible with an RV.  Maybe a guinea pig.  They can be very social creatures.

 Before I started traveling I had a full time job...for 6 months. That I left for a better-sounding full time job...for 9 months. I just can't seem to find happiness in a long term position. Traveling allows me to try out different settings- I've bounced from acute care, inpatient, home health, nursing homes, etc etc...So I do have a much better idea now of what I can tolerate from a position. It has also given me experience to work under different management styles which I feel is important if I ever want to settle down. The other thing I like about travel is that I can get paid to go to California, or Florida, or Maine, or Alaska, and it's pretty darn cool to see the country in an RV.  I can do my job without the travel. I think I decided that this coming winter I'm going to head home and just get a part time job in my industry and see if I just need to be stationary for a while to feel grounded.

Just curious what are the rent and utilities for?  Are they for the house that you share with your mom?  It does not sound like you have much of an interest in this property.  I like the idea of seeing if you could work out some other deal with your mom.

In order to legally get all of the tax benefits of travel stipends for the "inconvenience" of traveling away from home, you need a tax home. So I pay my mom rent and, and I pay all of her utilities, to prove to the Feds that I haven't abandoned my home. It's also convenient because all of my mail goes there, my cars are registered there, I vote there, etc.  And she gets some more pocket money, and she's counting it as me paying off my loan to her a little at a time. It's a win-win.  The investment property totally pays for itself, and it's a vacation beach house right on the gulf of mexico so we enjoy having it :) There's also a nursing home in the town that I can work at part time when I want to have a working vacation for a couple of months (in the off season when it's not rented).  We will probably sell it in 5-10 years so i likely will not see any of the income, but we got it at a really good deal so we're hoping the property value rises. Part of my FI goal is to invest in real estate so I dont mind having it as a rental property, even if we never sell it. I just probably wont collect on the income for 15-20 years haha
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 06:31:51 PM by amt9cs »
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2017, 06:21:36 PM »
In the meantime, focus on the 10% that your work is helping. While I don't advocate for doing work that you hate, I'm very familiar with having 90% of my work be essentially thrown away (at great expense to the taxpayer). The thing that made it bearable for me was to dwell on those few but immensely rewarding instances where my work made a tangible difference.

If you can identify what differentiates the 10% experiences from the rest, it may help you identify what kinds of work that you want to do in the future.

You are right about this!!!! When I actually feel like I made a difference to someone I feel great about my day :) Thank you for the reminder!
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

mozar

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2017, 09:16:02 PM »
Quote
I am also thinking that if i can specialize in a niche market in my field that actually helps people

I thought for many years that I would be able to find a job that actually helps people. I don't think that really exists in our society. For yourself figure out what is the crap you can deal with, and the crap that you really can't deal with. Find a job that is the crap that you can mostly deal with.
Embracing the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning

civil4life

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 06:41:08 AM »
I think the idea of staying stationary for a little while to see how you feel is a great idea.

IMO paying $525 for rent and utilities to your mom and you are not living there is ridiculous.  I could definitely see paying her something, but that seems above and beyond.  My family lives in LCOL area.  My sister, husband, and two kids live in my parents basement and only pay $300 a month.  He is going to school and my sister is at home with a 2 month old.  They are paying way less than living on their own, but it is my parents way of helping out.
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MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 01:10:47 PM »
I have 2 perspectives on this and Iím not sure if theyíre helpful and apologies in  advance if I insult you in any way.

1. I donít think women should ever do anything that makes them more financially vulnerable. If you can find a home based job that pays the same (perks costs included) or better, do that. I would never sacrifice the money for the more soul-enriching job. Why?  Because, ALL jobs have things you donít like about them. They all have politics and there is always at least one person who is an irritant, life isnít guaranteed to get better. You are doing great financially so far, making incredibly smart decisions. I wish I was where you are at your age. And again, youíre not allowing yourself to be vulnerable or dependent on anyone, this is so powerful. Donít step backwards.

2.  MMM has changed my mindset.  I have a job I love, get paid incredible, have autonomy and everything one could ask for from work (there are politics but Iím getting better at navigating in my favor).  And still, I canít wait to leave in 5 years. I could do this job for 20 years easily, but wonít. I want to be free, more than anything. I want full control of my life, dictated by me, not work. Now, that has made the job I love a bit of drudgery as every day working seems a countdown to freedom. But, thatís ok, because now my work is serving this new higher purposeóFIRE. It is just a means to an end, not the embodiment of who I am. I will maximize every element of it to serve my goals. I will take things less personally, care less, but still be competent. When Iím free, Iíll focus on making my full life, everything I want it to be. Until then, I have to sacrifice. I have to earn that freedom. This is me earning it, when all I want to do is quit now. So, make a FIRE plan, think of the life you want in 8-10 years, and use the now to prepare you for the then. Youíve got this!

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 02:48:24 PM »
I donít think women should ever do anything that makes them more financially vulnerable.

Is this specific to women? It seems an odd thing to apply to only one gender.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 04:31:03 PM »
I donít think women should ever do anything that makes them more financially vulnerable.

Is this specific to women? It seems an odd thing to apply to only one gender.

Obviously applies to all, but women are and have been particularly financially vulnerable. They still are paid less, have less savings and represent the greatest percentage (and children) of people living in poverty.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2017, 08:54:52 PM »
I think the idea of staying stationary for a little while to see how you feel is a great idea.

IMO paying $525 for rent and utilities to your mom and you are not living there is ridiculous.  I could definitely see paying her something, but that seems above and beyond.  My family lives in LCOL area.  My sister, husband, and two kids live in my parents basement and only pay $300 a month.  He is going to school and my sister is at home with a 2 month old.  They are paying way less than living on their own, but it is my parents way of helping out.

The $525 is a combo of rent to my mom ($100 for "renting" a room) and the average cost of a month long stay at an RV park (around $425 in the areas I work). I just call it all rent.
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2017, 11:30:58 PM »
Seems like split opinions....just like mine! Several of you think I should buckle down and that the ends justify the means. And of course there is always fat to trim so maybe my FIRE will come in less than 8 years, sooner than expected. Most people seem to agree that the money is worth it.

A few think that if I feel my current job is a general suck on society and my life that I could find a way to wiggle around and specialize in my field so I feel better about it, maybe stop traveling for a while as long as it doesn't financially impact my bottom line.

And one thinks I should move on and work to be happier now.

I've got an mini update for you all. I've applied to a part time position in my home town that pays $80 per hour plus reimburses $0.30 per mile. This is way better than what I have now because

a) it would only be up to 30 hours a week so it wouldn't suck my soul like my current 50 hour a week job.
b)I will have a chance to be home with family for 3-4 months.
c)if I wanted to transition to a full time role, this company has opportunity for advancement that my current company doesnt'
d)I think the bump in income will cover the loss of the tax benefits, plus my gas costs will be less, plus my rent will be less.

So I think I will net more. If I get to 30 hours I should be making about $9,700 gross per month and my expenses will be approximately $6000 per month (due to aggressive car loan repayment schedule...without the car payment my expenses would be $2,000) .  Only catch is the 30 hours is not guaranteed, it depends on caseload availability. So we'll see. 

I had a phone interview and they asked me to send in references :)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2017, 11:40:47 PM by CrueltyFreeRV »
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2017, 12:01:33 AM »
Great update! Good luck with the application.

If you have the money to cover the weeks when the case load is lighter, this is a great option. Is the work seasonal/predictable at all? Could you have an arrangement where you work with guaranteed hours in peak times and then do something else when it is quiet? Some time closer to home to think it over could be a good thing for you.

lhamo

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2017, 10:35:24 AM »
This sounds like a good short-term strategy.

Longer term, I would do some more research into states where they are doing more to incentivize effective use of healthcare spending.   This should become more prevalent as healthcare reform becomes more and more necessary.   Hopefully there is at least one company that is looking at increasing the effectiveness of their treatment in this area -- you want to be working for that one, and help them move from a 10% effectiveness rate to 30, 40, 50% or higher.   This might actually mean moving toward working with research hospitals or non-profit healthcare providers that aren't necessarily just in it for the bottom line profit margin (though successfully getting research dollars to study this aspect of things is another type of profit chasing).

TL/DR:  Don't give up just yet.  Do more research to narrow down the scope of companies you are willing to work for, based on alignment of overall goals.  And then change healthcare delivery. :)
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Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Should I postpone FIRE and focus on finding a career that makes me happy?
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2017, 01:01:45 AM »
You have asked a life direction question more than a finances question.  You're doing fine with managing your own money, so I will address the career/fulfillment question.

First, you are experiencing something extremely common, especially early in your work life.  See the recent thread and post here about a similar experience. 

I'll recommend a few things here, similar to that other thread:
1.  See this book.  (Warning: link/referral.)  I love it and highly recommend it to everyone considering any career change/direction change.  It's basically a life coach in a book - and it's well worth the insights if you do the exercises.  That alone should give you significant direction.

2.  Try aptitude testing.  I've done it through Johnson O'Connor Foundation and recommend that - costs some ($700+) but is invaluable for making life decisions re: jobs with confidence (so, to me, it's high value).  They're going to give you many ideas, then tell you to go explore those ideas - which usually leads to concrete results. 

Personally, I believe life is too short to stick it out forever in something you hate.  It's a sign when you're daydreaming about menial jobs.  I've been there. 

With that said, work is difficult - even the best jobs are.  And jobs can go through seasons.  But you're gaining experience that will hopefully allow you to know yourself well enough to know the difference: when work is merely frustrating versus when it is unsustainable. 

I'm guessing here, but you may need a job with a purpose - a job that actually accomplishes good in the world and does something effective.  I notice you complained about not actually helping people.  There's an aptitude - a personality wiring - that drives some of us to need jobs where we're able to be more effective.  If that's you, then this search may be more challenging but will be much more necessary. 

Besides, what's another year (or two, or four) of delayed retirement when you're doing things you love with people you like while helping those around you?  It would be an easy wait for me.  (Confession: I took a longer but more fulfilling route myself - and I haven't looked back.)

It sounds like you have options, and, even if you feel stuck, I recommend the life direction/coaching book and especially the exercises - it helped me tremendously and may help you figure out your way as well.  It'll at least give you some new ideas to play with.