Author Topic: Feeling "stuck" in career because culture assumes anti-mustachianism  (Read 2630 times)

LPG

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I'm not that I'm not the only person who has bumped into this.

Here's my situation: I've lived below my means my whole life, including maxing out my IRA since starting graduate school (Even on a grad student stipend). In the past few years I've become much more dedicated to investing, and working towards financial freedom achieving a >50% savings rate. I'm now sitting on over $200k in invested assets. And the yearning for the FI lifestyle is striking really hard. Not so much the traveling (Though that is striking hard, too), but the freedom to do things that I find interesting and rewarding every day. I bring this attitude to work because, frankly, life is too short to spend my life doing work that I don't find interesting and rewarding. And I've found this extremely frustrating. Even though I take a lot of initiative to do business development, and create new projects that I like, collaborating with people that I like, it's really hard to build a career that I like in the corporate environment.

I think this is because the corporate world isn't set up for people with that attitude. Most people approach their jobs as a chore that they have to slog through, because it's the only way to pay their bills. Americans create personal worlds of insecurity, where we need to put up with whatever jobs we have so we can continue our current lifestyle. Corporations know about this insecurity, and invest very little in making working there pleasant and exciting to keep staff. Because they know that the staff are financially dependent on the jobs, and will put up with a lot.

I've been at a job for 2.5 years now where I've been bored out of my mind. It takes me ~10 hr/wk, leaving me wondering how to fill the other 30 hours I'm expected to be here. This has actually led to some interesting opportunities, as I'm about to start a side-gig, but that's an aside. I've stuck it out here for a while because too much job hopping looks bad on a resume, but I've started searching for new options. And I keep finding this same sort of feeling when I look around. I don't find myself inspired by the jobs I find, usually getting the impression that it'll be another environment where everybody from top to bottom is going through the motions, because they feel stuck. I keep looking for environments where people are excited about what they do, and happy to collaborate. And I've only found those in co-working spaces, where entrepreneurial people are pursuing their own businesses.

Who else has felt stuck in this way? Like the wealth building years end up being a slog, because everything the corporate world offers seems bland, and like it isn't designed for people like us. What solutions and/or coping methods have people found?

genesismachine

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Work is what you make of it. I graduated in a recession and had to take a position with terrible pay. After less than a year, I got passed up for a promotion, so I jumped ship to another department. The corporation instituted a pay freeze, so I jumped ship to another company. A few more jumps later and I tripled my pay in ~2 years.

I think the switching jobs thing is only a problem if you make it one. If you explain why you changed jobs, most employers (in my experience) either don't care or understand.

Eventually, you'll find a job you like. Even in corporate society, you can find jobs that have more freedom/less bureaucracy.

I've also been in that position of ~10 hours of real work. Read the 4 hour workweek and see if you can swing working from home. If not, bring your personal stuff into work - but be productive with your personal stuff. Set personal goals to read X number of useful books per year and make progress towards them. If you don't have the privacy for that, listen to audiobooks. Most people just assume you're listening to music. Stretch, eat in your office, study for licenses that benefit you and your job, find books and other stuff that is personal but that overlaps somewhat with your job and read those at your desk, make (productive) personal phone calls like calling your bank or other must-do tasks, handle your personal email with your phone, do everything you can to shift your personal stuff into work if you truly cannot keep busy at work. But keep doing the work, and keep being a star performer. Most places don't care as long as you still outperform your job description by a large amount. And if they care more about appearances than work output, just switch jobs.

It sounds strange, but at some places I've worked, people get annoyed if you keep asking for more work, and it's actually better not to ask if they start getting annoyed. Many managers are on the same autopilot as the workers.

I'm on year 12 of my career now, and I really like it where I'm at (I've been here 4 years now).

Hope that helps.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 06:18:36 PM by genesismachine »

inline five

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Honestly these days staying too long in a certain job will look bad. If there is no room to move up in your organization you do need to make a jump for bigger and better. Employers want to see continuing education/growth/job responsibilities. People who work the same job for 5-10 years will normally get "stuck" and come recession time will most likely be let go, and with little resume material will have issues getting a job.

Michael in ABQ

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A good friend of mine started working at Tesla recently and said it was very different from every other company he's worked for (mostly smaller entrepreneurial companies). Basically he's surrounded by top performers who are all highly motivated. There are other companies out there like that. Maybe you can find a position with one of those.


MaaS

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Why do you have to wait until FI to do interesting work? It sounds like you have ambition and work ethic. If you want a more interesting job, go create it.

Malkynn

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What do you want to do?
Do that.

Iím a medical professional and I decided I didnít enjoy it full time, so I dropped down to part time and developed a career in finance as well (along with 2 other side hustles).
Iím nowhere near FI, but I would rather build a career I enjoy now than waste years waiting for an arbitrary savings target before I start prioritizing enjoying my work.

The only way the accumulation phase is a slog is if you choose the slogging path.

Personally, Iíve always found it easier to go against the grain if everyone is doing the same thing. Iíve always found that thing that others donít want to do and then exploited that for opportunity (especially if itís something your boss doesnít want to do). If you can make yourself distinctly useful to your employers, it becomes a lot easier to negotiate what you want. 

Ambition and drive are all nice and good, but becoming highly and consistently valuable is where you gain the most influence over your work circumstances.

So no. The corporate world will likely never hand you the exact career that you want because the system is designed for clock-watching debt-slaves, but that doesnít mean that there isnít ample opportunity for you to craft the kind of career that you can enjoy. You just have to be strategic and creative.

...or just quit and do something else.

I mean really.
Figure out what you want to do.
Then do that.

partgypsy

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This is all good advice. You have a cushion; if there is something you want to do, do it. Create your perfect job. I personally am a worker drone and it suits me. My work cannot be done in 10 hours a week in fact there is constant negotiation with my different bosses what I should prioritize, because I'm only supposed to work 40 hours a week. I can understand why you say your job is not exciting. Sure there are parts of my job that i enjoy (interacting with veterans, problem solving, also writing) but a lot of it, well there is a reason you are being paid to do it! It is work, it is a job. But I get intrinsic reward from it because I am helping veterans and hopefully improving care and also helping my coworkers.

I came to fire late and am not going to try to fire early. instead my aim is to continue to be productive and useful, and segue into pt work in 8 years. At that time my house will be paid off, I will be eligible for early retirement, oldest will be done with college and youngest done with HS.

 

Slee_stack

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You shouldn't hate your job, but you don't have to love it.  Even those that claim they have jobs they love usually have caveats. 

You might find that dream job where the content of your work truly matches your passion...but don't be too discouraged if that doesn't happen.  I honestly think that its a VERY rare person that can find that.

Instead, look for a job that is as least offensive as possible, pays you the most, and grants you the most satisfaction. 

That might be your current job where you get to read (or do whatever) for 30 hours...or another where you have so much work you don't have a second to think about anything else.   

It might be one that grants the most flexibility or lowest hours, but at a lower pay.

The corporate environment can indeed be life sucking...but it doesn't have to be soul sucking.  I'm near the end of mine right now, but am taking steps to make it more palatable.

In these forums, I think it can be easy to fall into the trap that you are 'doing it wrong' because your job isn't as amazing as some other people infer theirs is. 

A job is still just a job.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 10:38:37 AM by Slee_stack »

Laura33

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What we have here is a failure of imagination.

Do not settle.  There are interesting jobs out there, interesting companies, interesting people.  The world is a huge place filled with all sorts of opportunity.  But confirmation bias is a terrible thing.  If you assume that everything is boring and filled with box-checking wage slaves, that's exactly what you will see.

I had two primary goals as a kid:  not to be poor; and not to be bored.  My jobs from day 1 satisfied the first, but boy did I struggle to find the latter.  Frankly, I was smarter than a lot of people around me, but I was also quirky and different, and so it took me a long time to learn to translate my thoughts into something they could follow so they could actually see that I was smart and valuable.  So I went through several jobs, and I learned all sorts of things I did not want to do.  But then I found a place that hired be because I was smart, because I was bored with what the other jobs offered.  And suddenly I clicked -- I was both happier and much more successful, because I was surrounded by people who got me and who felt the same way. 

The other thing is that jobs can become much more fun the more senior you get.  When you're at the bottom of the pile, responsible for managing all of the shit that flows down from the top, any job sucks.  I never really liked doing research and writing memos, you know?  But when I got to the point where I was managing more of my own stuff, I got to see the whole big picture -- and let me tell you, figuring out the right strategy is awesome! 

IMO, the worst thing you can do if you want to find an interesting job is to give up and punch a clock.  Because the people who have those interesting jobs are looking for interesting people with ambition and edge and drive and all of that.  So spend your time now honing your skills, making yourself indispensible, proving that you are a powerhouse, and looking for jobs that, even if they don't seem perfect now, look like they might lead you down a path with interesting possibilities at the end.

LPG

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Thanks for the encouragement, everybody. I've been feeling really worn out lately as I've been in this industry for about ten years now, and keep finding myself bored out of my mind at every new job I try. But it sounds like several others have been in that position, and that there is a reward at the end if I just keep on trying. Time to shake off this old pity party, keep searching, keep building my side projects, and see what comes my way.

Cwadda

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Re: Feeling "stuck" in career because culture assumes anti-mustachianism
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2018, 04:57:18 PM »
What we have here is a failure of imagination.

Do not settle.  There are interesting jobs out there, interesting companies, interesting people.  The world is a huge place filled with all sorts of opportunity.  But confirmation bias is a terrible thing.  If you assume that everything is boring and filled with box-checking wage slaves, that's exactly what you will see.

I had two primary goals as a kid:  not to be poor; and not to be bored.  My jobs from day 1 satisfied the first, but boy did I struggle to find the latter.  Frankly, I was smarter than a lot of people around me, but I was also quirky and different, and so it took me a long time to learn to translate my thoughts into something they could follow so they could actually see that I was smart and valuable.  So I went through several jobs, and I learned all sorts of things I did not want to do.  But then I found a place that hired be because I was smart, because I was bored with what the other jobs offered.  And suddenly I clicked -- I was both happier and much more successful, because I was surrounded by people who got me and who felt the same way. 

The other thing is that jobs can become much more fun the more senior you get.  When you're at the bottom of the pile, responsible for managing all of the shit that flows down from the top, any job sucks.  I never really liked doing research and writing memos, you know?  But when I got to the point where I was managing more of my own stuff, I got to see the whole big picture -- and let me tell you, figuring out the right strategy is awesome! 

IMO, the worst thing you can do if you want to find an interesting job is to give up and punch a clock.  Because the people who have those interesting jobs are looking for interesting people with ambition and edge and drive and all of that.  So spend your time now honing your skills, making yourself indispensible, proving that you are a powerhouse, and looking for jobs that, even if they don't seem perfect now, look like they might lead you down a path with interesting possibilities at the end.

I liked your post. Can you go into more detail about your job and field?

Noodle

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Re: Feeling "stuck" in career because culture assumes anti-mustachianism
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2018, 10:51:26 PM »
Well, you've got a couple of choices...you can either look for a different type of job, or a way to better leverage the job you have. Corporate may not suit you--would your skills be applicable in a smaller business, or the non-profit world, or government, or a side hustle? My very large non-profit employer needs accountants and HR and IT people just like the corporate world does, and while the money is not as good, the flexible hours and the interesting perks are attractive enough that people stay around for years. Or you can stay where you are and either try to make the job more interesting or make yourself more valuable. The poster above who recommended getting good at something that other people hate to do (especially your boss) is onto something--it's amazing how much power you have over your working conditions if you would be a major nuisance to replace.

damyst

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Re: Feeling "stuck" in career because culture assumes anti-mustachianism
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2018, 11:42:24 PM »
You have a cushion;

That you do, and it's a critical piece of the puzzle.

People who barely scrape by, and/or spend as much as they earn, can get stuck in a job they dislike for a very long time.
A person with >50% savings rate has no excuse for that.

Lately, having FU money today is contributing more to my happiness than the idea of eventual FIRE.

elliha

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Re: Feeling "stuck" in career because culture assumes anti-mustachianism
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2018, 02:31:08 AM »
With 2.5 years in the same place you could hardly be accused of job hopping so just go ahead and try to find another job if you think that will help feel happier.