Author Topic: Floundering at work  (Read 4638 times)

RosieTR

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Floundering at work
« on: November 29, 2016, 09:47:05 AM »
So, I'm venting a little but mostly looking for advice, I guess. I feel like I'm floundering at work, in the sense of not moving forward, not seeing much of a path toward doing more interesting stuff, etc. My job is fairly boring on a regular basis-consisting of paper work and "herding cats" (ie nagging people). Most of the time I don't feel like there's enough to do FT, but due to political territory disputes I doubt there is any way the department would ever have my position reduce to a part time thing, since they'd be afraid of not getting it back.
The work is fairly specialized in that there is nothing like this that I know of in 40+ miles, and I purposely gave up a dream job to reduce my commute to a bikeable and bus-enabled commute, and downsized the number of vehicles we own. I have been keeping an eye out for a similar dream job but they are few and far between in this particular area. Moving is not an option.
The sticky wicket is that FIRE is pretty close (we are right on the edge of FI, but too bare-bones for my comfort to totally jump in yet). Maybe 2-5 years, depending on health care access and portfolio performance. My original plan was just to stick it out but with more uncertainty in the world, I think the 5 year timeline may be more realistic.

I am supposed to meet with my supervisor in the next few weeks to discuss some of my future options, but I'm always under the impression that one doesn't discuss things like how boring your work is with the boss. When I have asked about ways to make myself more valuable, the only suggestion has been to do a certification program which is pretty specific to my line of work now. I think it's just an exam that I may as well do, but I don't feel like that will help me branch out into anything more interesting. My boss isn't a bad person, but her motivation is to have me stay in my job and do it well, because it's a PITA to get someone new in. Hence the certificate which is just letters after my name. Possibly a (small) raise but budget concerns may counteract that.

Have any of you had the situation where you do a good job, not sure how to move forward/up, and struggled to figure out your next steps?

ZiziPB

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2016, 09:56:30 AM »
If you're only 2-5 years away from FIRE, why would you want to move up and potentially take on more stress?  Are you happy with the money you are making now?  Can you do more interesting stuff/stuff that you love on your own time? 

Schaefer Light

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2016, 10:03:13 AM »
My job is fairly boring on a regular basis-consisting of paper work and "herding cats" (ie nagging people).

I am supposed to meet with my supervisor in the next few weeks to discuss some of my future options, but I'm always under the impression that one doesn't discuss things like how boring your work is with the boss.

Sounds like my job - middle management.  I'm so bored and apathetic right now that I've seriously considered telling my boss just how boring this work is.  I could do the actual "work" part of my job in about 15 minutes a day.  Some days, even less.  But I'm supposed to be here to "coach" my people, whatever that means.

To answer your question, I haven't figured out what to do about my situation.  I'm not as close to FI as you and my job pays pretty well, so I'll probably stick it out for at least long enough to build up my savings to a point where I have serious FU money.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2016, 10:07:16 AM by Schaefer Light »

RosieTR

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2016, 11:55:07 AM »
If you're only 2-5 years away from FIRE, why would you want to move up and potentially take on more stress?  Are you happy with the money you are making now?  Can you do more interesting stuff/stuff that you love on your own time?

The money is not that great, and 2-5 years is a decent amount of time to spend bored. I suppose I just hate wasting money, including my employers, and dislike feeling like my potential is being wasted. Probably I was spoiled by how much my previous job fit me, and included lots of opportunities to feel like I was doing something with purpose while getting to learn new things all the time.
The meeting with supervisor isn't until mid-Dec so I will have to ponder.

RosieTR

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2016, 11:56:34 AM »
My job is fairly boring on a regular basis-consisting of paper work and "herding cats" (ie nagging people).

I am supposed to meet with my supervisor in the next few weeks to discuss some of my future options, but I'm always under the impression that one doesn't discuss things like how boring your work is with the boss.

Sounds like my job - middle management.  I'm so bored and apathetic right now that I've seriously considered telling my boss just how boring this work is.  I could do the actual "work" part of my job in about 15 minutes a day.  Some days, even less.  But I'm supposed to be here to "coach" my people, whatever that means.

To answer your question, I haven't figured out what to do about my situation.  I'm not as close to FI as you and my job pays pretty well, so I'll probably stick it out for at least long enough to build up my savings to a point where I have serious FU money.

Yeah, good luck! On a philosophical level, it's ridiculous that many people are just bored at work...so much human creativity and effort wasted!

MsSindy

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2016, 12:20:11 PM »
The way I'm thinking about it, you probably have a few options:

1) Ask to take on more meaningful work (if you can define that for your Manager, it makes their life easier.  If you can't define what 'meaningful' is, then you just made their life harder because now they need to figure out something for you, and they probably won't bother).
 1a) If more meaningful work does not happen, you need to make a decision:
        A) Stay for another 2 - 5 years and stop complaining - just accept it and know you're making a trade-off (i.e. short commute)
        B) Start looking for something else
                 - this may not be an exact fit, it may not even be 'better', but sometimes just a change of scenery is enough to get you to the finish line.  You don't have to find your 'dream job'; but maybe your skill-set will transfer to something else - think more broadly and go after something interesting - it doesn't hurt to job hunt.

If you're not willing to move, then your opportunities are limited to a small geographic area - that's just a reality.  Depending on how populated that area is, will influence your number of opportunities.

RosieTR

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2016, 06:09:39 PM »
Thanks, MsSindy!

I will think about what is more meaningful and I can probably articulate that to some degree. I think I have been hoping for guidance that isn't going to happen. My original thought was that hey, it's work so I should do what they need, right? Instead of trying to slot me into areas the dept needs, she kept asking what do I want to do-and my social skills training suggested that "retire ASAP" was probably not the best answer to give. It may be a better tactic to suggest the type of things I like to do (problem-solve, find inefficiencies and fix them) and see how I can find something that incorporates those skills.

pbkmaine

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2016, 06:17:37 PM »
There are a few key words you can use that equate to "bored out of my mind" without saying the words.  Tell boss you are eager to learn, stretch yourself, expand your horizons. Ask "How can I do more to help my company reach its goals?" Talk about seeking out challenges.

pbkmaine

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2016, 06:29:36 PM »
There are a few key words you can use that equate to "bored out of my mind" without saying the words.  Tell boss you are eager to learn, stretch yourself, expand your horizons. Ask "How can I do more to help my company reach its goals?" Talk about seeking out challenges.

And if you don't want to manage people, say you wish to become a "subject matter expert" in something that interests you.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2016, 08:11:35 PM »

I am supposed to meet with my supervisor in the next few weeks to discuss some of my future options, but I'm always under the impression that one doesn't discuss things like how boring your work is with the boss.

That's non-FI talk. People don't say stuff like that to their boss because they're paranoid about losing their jobs, or losing a 2% raise. You don't have that problem.

You can say you're super bored all you want to your boss. Every boss I've ever had follows the path of least resistance, always. Right now that's "keep you doing what you're doing, and give you nonsense answers as needed to deal with complaints." You just need to keep complaining so that substantially dealing with your complaints so you don't quit (in their mind) is the easiest thing for the boss to do. Reread your OP and keep asking yourself what you have to lose here.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2016, 06:32:30 AM »
Instead of trying to slot me into areas the dept needs, she kept asking what do I want to do-and my social skills training suggested that "retire ASAP" was probably not the best answer to give.

That's my only goal at work ;).

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2016, 07:04:20 AM »
When I've been in this kind of work funk I started 'Operation Thief of Time'. I'd find ways to do the shit more efficiently and more quickly and spend the time I'd saved doing things that actually interested me. Sometimes these were related to work.

trachma

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2016, 07:13:26 AM »
Tl;dr: Can you use down time at work to build a side gig or passion project?

I was in a similar situation last year (well, it had been building). Great job, top pay, 5 years out from FIRE. But I think I have a 7-year itch in general when it comes to jobs: Thatís about how long it takes me to cross over from full mastery/indispensability to eye-stabbing boredom. (The job came with a long commute, though, so I should note that the decision was a little easier, since I switched to working at home ó but for far less money.)

Anyway, in my secret (even, I think, to me at first) transition, I started using my extra prep time at work to do my side gig. This was after I was already done with everything I could do at The Job (for the day, for the week, etc.), and my side gig was writing, so you can just pull up a different window and make it happen.

After a year or so of gigging, I went to my boss and asked for the reduction in hours to 3 days per week. I got it (indispensability). Did that for another 6 months or so before giving notice, because by then I was confident that my freelance writing business was enough.

I did give up the 5-year FIRE plan to work from home, but itís so much freedom that it was worth it for me. I still have to work, but I call an awful lot of the shots, an success to me feels like being able to turn down writing jobs I donít want because theyíre boring. If I hadnít bee plugging away at it during my downtime at The Job first, though, it would have taken me much linger to feel like I could quit all that income and change my FIRE plan.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2016, 07:33:45 AM »
Is you do very specialized work, your boss might not want to lose you so easily. I suggest you tell her you need more stimulating work to stay motivated for the job. And you show your self made plan with your suggestions. Maybe follow a course in something that is related to your work, but in another direction, so that it can lead to another function. Or responsibility for a product or project that your company has.

AZDude

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2016, 08:56:38 AM »
If you have lots of free time at work, maybe look into side hustles/part time work that can be part of your transition into FIRE. Use the flexibility, time wise, at this job to explore what you want to do in the next phase of your life.

Case

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2016, 11:00:12 AM »
So, I'm venting a little but mostly looking for advice, I guess. I feel like I'm floundering at work, in the sense of not moving forward, not seeing much of a path toward doing more interesting stuff, etc. My job is fairly boring on a regular basis-consisting of paper work and "herding cats" (ie nagging people). Most of the time I don't feel like there's enough to do FT, but due to political territory disputes I doubt there is any way the department would ever have my position reduce to a part time thing, since they'd be afraid of not getting it back.
The work is fairly specialized in that there is nothing like this that I know of in 40+ miles, and I purposely gave up a dream job to reduce my commute to a bikeable and bus-enabled commute, and downsized the number of vehicles we own. I have been keeping an eye out for a similar dream job but they are few and far between in this particular area. Moving is not an option.
The sticky wicket is that FIRE is pretty close (we are right on the edge of FI, but too bare-bones for my comfort to totally jump in yet). Maybe 2-5 years, depending on health care access and portfolio performance. My original plan was just to stick it out but with more uncertainty in the world, I think the 5 year timeline may be more realistic.

I am supposed to meet with my supervisor in the next few weeks to discuss some of my future options, but I'm always under the impression that one doesn't discuss things like how boring your work is with the boss. When I have asked about ways to make myself more valuable, the only suggestion has been to do a certification program which is pretty specific to my line of work now. I think it's just an exam that I may as well do, but I don't feel like that will help me branch out into anything more interesting. My boss isn't a bad person, but her motivation is to have me stay in my job and do it well, because it's a PITA to get someone new in. Hence the certificate which is just letters after my name. Possibly a (small) raise but budget concerns may counteract that.

Have any of you had the situation where you do a good job, not sure how to move forward/up, and struggled to figure out your next steps?

Not sure how long the commute was for that dream job, but sounds like maybe you should have stayed with it.  Any chance you can switch back to it?
Two years of a miserably boring job is do-able. Five years is a challenge.

I know so many people who work for the govt who have similar jobs.  It's so frustrating to people that work hard for their money to hear that there are people simply leeching off the system, not contributing much, and getting paid for it.  Sorry, not meant to be an attack on you (you're clearly trying to do something about it!).

If you are 2-5 years from FIRE than you have flexibility (e.g. you are not far off).  Use the spare time in your job to search for a better job.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2016, 03:43:26 PM by Case »

mxt0133

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2016, 04:26:17 PM »
I know so many people who work for the govt who have similar jobs.  It's so frustrating to people that work hard for their money to hear that there are people simply leeching off the system, not contributing much, and getting paid for it.  Sorry, not meant to be an attack on you (you're clearly trying to do something about it!).


I think it is the rare case that people take on a job and purposely leech off the system.    They are being paid to be there in the event that something needs to get done, lots of jobs don't need someone to work 8 hours straight.  The hard part is having someone available during business hours to do the work when it's ready so most people have to sit around and wait for work to come to them.  That is the case for most office jobs anyway.




MidWestLove

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Re: Floundering at work
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2016, 05:06:53 PM »
"show your self made plan "

don't be passive, that is the worst course of action. if you are unhappy with something (low pay, boredom, etc.) identify what it is to the point possible and then do something about it.  managers are not mind readers and there is little more frustrating than passive-aggressive employee. As former manager, if you come to me with this I would ask you point blank of what you actually looking for and to talk to me when you are ready, then we make the plan together to help that happen.  And no, sitting around 'waiting for guidance' is not generally have been looked at favorably in any professional position , especially if one is unhappy.

you have tremendous leverage here being very close to FI , use the freedom your financial security (which you already have) brings you.