Author Topic: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.  (Read 7578 times)

greentrees789

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Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« on: May 01, 2013, 09:00:09 PM »
Hi Mustachians,
I am so glad to have found a group of Mustachians.

I am finding myself in a dilemma. I am a guy in early 30's who works as a low-level Information Technology contractor testing software. I have been in this line of work for four years now. I have built up a modest stash, but I really hate my job. Assuming I do not suffer setbacks like layoffs, I would be able to reach my freedom stash goal in 4 or 5 years, but I am not sure if I have it in me to last that long.

Would you share some of your insights on how you managed to stay in a job you hated or how you switched to a new career? I am basically trying to figure out if I can get out of IT entirely and move into a different job with a similar or better salary. I have even been thinking about training to become a tradesperson like a plumber or an electrician even if that slows down my stash-building.

I ended up in this job after doing poorly as a computer science major in college. I felt back then I would hate programming or doing other kind of IT work, but I was too lost and scared to properly figure out what else to do. Before this job, I had a long period of bumbling around doing odd jobs. My job mainly consists of running dull tests on software, criticizing programmers, sitting in on meetings, working late at night, etc. I do not experience any sense of growth or meaning in what I do. From looking at people who are my senior, I do not see a very bright future ahead. That was one of my main reasons for trying to become financially independent early on by living frugally. The prospect of doing this type of work for 4 or 5 more years is simply draining.

Here are some of my financial details. I am not doing a detailed breakdown here since I am looking for job advice rather than advice on maximizing my savings. I make about $4800 per month after taxes - that's about $6800 before taxes - and save about $3600 per month, which is 75%. To note, I live in one of the most expensive states in the country, so my monthly expense of $1200 is considered low here sadly. I have saved up about $100K, mostly invested in stocks and ETFs. I have zero debt. I do not own a home, but rent a room. My stash goal is to save 270K to 300K, move to a cheaper state, get a relaxing part-time job, and spend more time nurturing my interest in art and writing. I also hope to meet the future Mrs. Mustache.

If you have any advice on how to deal with my hateful job or transition into something else with a similar pay level, I would appreciate it. Again, to emphasize, I am trying to get out of IT, so please no tips like "Go into software development! It's the best!" Thank you very much.

Joet

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2013, 09:12:41 PM »
Find a mentor, get a different job in the same field with a different focus. If you're a tester why not move into a more customer facing role. Possibilities are literally limitless in tech.
Normally my advice is to learn the skills you need to move to the job you want now. If you just want to punch out the easy way tomorrow well I have no advice for that scenario.

To quote an esteemed colleague of mine from one of my first jobs..."cultivate a love for what everybody else hates" I still have no idea what that means in fact I think he was talking about the shrimp always being gone by the time we got to the front of the line at our startup -- that catered free lunch. But in your case I think it means learn to deal with whatever it is that you hate about your job and make it better. I am probably over-promoted at work beyond my ability but all my recognition and advancement come from directly challenging processes, assumptions, goals, and methods. See what isn't working... Fix it.

Jamesqf

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 09:41:20 PM »
How I stayed in the jobs I hated: I was in the position where if I didn't work, I didn't eat. 

How I moved from jobs I hated to one I like: saved money, went to school, got a BS degree (in computer science), and eventually advanced degrees.

The first thing to do is to sit down and figure out a) what you like to do; that b) you can make an adequate living doing.  Then figure out how to get the training needed.  (And don't say it's too late: I didn't get my degree until my mid-30s, and I've made a reasonably successful career.)

pac_NW

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2013, 05:16:39 AM »
Is it the type of work or could it be the company you work at?  There are many tech companies who value quality and the test assurance process. Perhaps leverage your skill at a company that would value you more. Keeps you on the earning path with an education you have already paid for. You might also make the move sooner. Check out Silicon Prairie. Booming tech space in our Midwest and low cost of living. 

davisgang90

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 05:56:08 AM »
If you want to pick up some trade skills, you can learn quite a bit by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  Most of it is very fulfilling grunt work, but you can still learn quite a bit.

rtrnow

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 07:30:08 AM »
Is part time at the current job an option?

I have fairly similar goals and dislike of my job as you. Luckily, I can change to part time and plan to start working 4 day weeks soon. Personally I would try and stick it out a bit until you have a clearer view of what you want to do next. My goal is to leave this job in 1-1.5 years with 275-300k invested and then work part time doing what I love. For me that's cooking and I'm working now to make connections and a little side money to test the waters a bit. Part time in two jobs can be a good/safe way to try out something new.

danzabar

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2013, 07:48:19 AM »
I'm going to present a slightly different option, coming from my background as a therapist. I think you have set a great goal for a few years from now, I would suggest reading The Art of Happiness at Work by Dalai Lama. http://www.amazon.ca/The-Art-Happiness-at-Work/dp/1594480540.
Sometimes changing our thoughts or perception about the work we do can help to find meaning in it, and if those challenging days in your office remind you of your goal of financial independence they might almost become enjoyable.
Just some food for thought before making a huge life change.

jrs

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 08:13:01 AM »
Oh desk job?
serious question: are you getting your daily exercise?
If you're sedentary, it could seriously be sabotaging your mood. 
Being on an endorphin high at the bullshit job you hate is still awesome because you're on an endorphin high... just sayin'
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Like danzabar, I'll second the suggestion you read some nice cheer-me-up material.  Though my favorite is "Happiness: a guide to developing life's most important skill" by matthieu ricard.  The thing that makes this book for me is chapter 16, where the author hops into an eeg and lets some science nerds map his brainwaves and plot his "happiness" (spoiler: he crushes the bell curve as a statistical outlier).  I'm a skeptical guy, and don't care much for most "feel good" garbage, but when someone backs up their claims with eight pages of bibliographies and literally sparks a new field in neuroscience research...  I can respect that.

Spork

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 08:24:40 AM »
+1 for trade skills.  (I often wish I had gone that route.  It does make me happy.)
+1 for doing something physical to make yourself feel better.


Now for the question of what I did when I was in a job I hated:  I walked.  I saved enough F-U money to live several years, put in my 2 weeks notice, sold the house and moved with no prospects on the horizon.  Now, that may be a rather extreme case.... but I was extremely burned out.  I had been there 18 years.  I also had family matters (aging parents/in-laws in a different city) that were pressing.

Having a big sack of cash and a relatively frugal lifestyle can make this an option.  The place I landed was not particularly high-tech friendly (I was/am IT as well) and finding a job took considerable time.  But I was able to live extremely low and I had enough cash to limp through several years.

citrine

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2013, 08:44:20 AM »
I think you have a good idea with saving and building up a nest egg prior to moving on.  I totally understand how you feel with feeling less than satisfied with what you do.  I felt the same way and the best money I ever spent was getting a life coach to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, the work that would fulfill me, and the way I wanted to spend my time.  Take the Myers Briggs personality test, write down what work fulfills you, write in detail the way you want to spend your days, the type of relationships you want in your life, and the person you want to meet.  Anything is possible :)  I live the life that I always dreamed of.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 08:47:50 AM »
Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity is a great idea! It would give you something meaningful to do, as well as exposure to trades you think you might want to pursue -- I bet it would make your current job a little more bearable, and you can count it as research time for finding something new.

Also, can you get your company to pay for business/marketing classes? Because if you go into a trade, you may as well go into business for yourself. 

jrhampt

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 09:07:00 AM »
There can be a lot of overlap between some IT positions and some Business Analyst types of positions.  I see people moving from one side to the other, at least within my company.  Maybe you could orchestrate a change to business if you think that might be feasible/enjoyable.  I find that even just getting a new job is enough to distract me for a couple of years before I start getting bored again.

Spork

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 10:11:35 AM »

Yes, but there is something incredibly satisfying about looking at something that was created out of nothing and saying "I did that."   While I know I am making lots more than some of those guys, I'm not convinced they're not more satisfied with their jobs sometimes.

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 10:41:21 AM »
I'm older than you are (55) but am going through the same thing with my job that I've had for 13 years. I was planning to hang on until I was  60, but now I know I can't do it. I'm in the process of figuring out how to make quitting work. I can't offer much advice but can commiserate.

greentrees789

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 06:01:23 PM »
Hi All,
Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my question. These are all great suggestions. I now gotta mull over them and try to figure out my next step. Some stand out.

+Figuring out what I want to do: I think I dislike the type of work I am doing, not just the specific company. I am basically sick of testing and tech work. Figuring out what I want to do to make money is a big question I have not been able to answer. In very vague terms, I have been thinking about working on something tangible, e.g. crafts, skilled trades, or creating more human content instead of another bug report.

+Never heard of Silicon Prairie before. Gonna look into it. That's really interesting.

+Habitat for humanity: Thanks a lot for telling me. It's one of those things on my list I forgot about. Because of the suggestion, I wrote to them today. Their construction project is on a break, but they got some volunteer opps for creating PR content. This might be pretty promising.

+Part-time: I actually spoke recently about going part-time with a co-worker who thought it was impossible in IT. Might be worth it to ask my manager about it very carefully.

+Books - "The Art of Happiness at Work" and "Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill": My local library got both of them. Reserved them.

+Exercise: I only started biking recently. I know, not very mustachian. I wish I had done it sooner. It helps a lot. I sometimes wonder if I was physically active sooner, I might have ended up with a very different outlook on life. Even if my frustrations may have most of their roots in deep value conflicts, the boost from exercising might be enough to alleviate them.

+Walking away: I actually did this for a few months, but came back. Sigh. Looking back, I could have used the time much better to change my life. I came back mainly because it was too painful to be eating away at my capital and I had a hard time seeing an alternative. I tried finding another job in another city, but most employers seemed interested in lowballing me, citing "You were a contractor, so we are going to pay you significantly less since we are bringing you in as a full-timer." It might also testify to my low desirability among employers. I concluded that next time I am walking away, it would be with enough f-u money (or freedom stash as I call it) to not worry about finding another full-time job.

+Moving around in my job (becoming a business analyst for example): This is a good option. The change might be enough to help me hold on for a few more years. I am a contractor, so shifting positions is very hard. I was thinking about somehow nudging my way into a business analyst or a marketing position, but in order to do that at my current company, I would need to probably become an employee first. That might be a worthy challenge.

Thank you very much. If you have any more suggestions, feel free to reply.

danzabar

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Re: Dilemma - Built up a modest stash, but hate my job.
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2013, 08:51:50 AM »
I just want to applaud your efforts, great focus on looking at what you 'can' control instead of focusing on those things that are bothering you.