Author Topic: Job/Life help  (Read 5146 times)

uppy

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Job/Life help
« on: May 27, 2016, 02:46:53 PM »
Hi folks,

I'm in a bit of a conundrum. About 2 years ago I left a big city I hated to take what was basically my dream job back in my "hometown" (didn't grow up there but it's the closest place to a hometown I've ever had). Two of my friends had had this same exact position, and one of them had previously been my boss while in this position, and both described it as the "best job they ever had," although it was challenging and stressful. I have found this to be generally true as well.

The thing about this job is that it is not a forever job. While it is true that some of my counterparts have been doing it for 6 years, no one has ever done it for life (the record is 6 years I believe) because, again, it's extremely taxing on a person's time and energy. I don't really want to go into what the job is for privacy reasons, but it's nothing weird or illegal, and I don't think it's relevant to my question. Some have "graduated" from this job to higher positions in the organization, but even then, they usually leave the company within a few years.

Again, these are great jobs and the company is great to work for in so many ways. There is ample PTO, so much freedom and autonomy, and the work is inspiring and interesting, and it has expanded my skillset in so many ways, hard and soft skills included. The only noticeable negative on the surface is that it doesn't pay a whole heck of a lot -- about 40K/year with benefits with not much hope for a raise. But living frugally, this is more than enough for my lifestyle. The pay thing is more about feeling slightly "used," or that nothing I ever give is enough. I have a tremendous amount of responsibility and it never ends.

My question is this: Why the heck can't I be satisfied in this job, and should I leave now, after 2 years, or hang in there for a few more?

Sometimes I think I might just have a bit of a "grass is greener" complex. But then, my one friend who stayed here for 6 years seemed jaded and burnt-out towards the end. She was clearly unhappy and now seems to be permanently affected by it. She's more negative now, a tinge of regret, after 1 or 2 of her 6 years were "bad" years. (Hard to explain, but there's a rotating nature to the job and some years are better than others). It's the kind of job you become so invested in that when things don't go well, it's as if it *injures* you somehow. On the flip side, when things go well, it's incredibly rewarding.

The real negatives for me are these:
  • I have almost no time to enjoy life outside of my job, although the job itself is mostly enjoyable
    Certain aspects of the job are NOT enjoyable, namely my boss. He is a micromanager big time, which stresses me out.
    The pay is pretty low for the hours I put in (roughly 50 hours per week) -- works out to like $14/hour sometimes
    It's hurting my relationship with my DW.

The positives of staying longer are these:
  • I might make connections I wouldn't otherwise make and/or resume points that I can use to get a better job later
    I am on track to pay off my college loans COMPLETELY if I stay another year
    I am worried that, if I do have a "grass is greener" thing going on, any job I find after this will be worse. As mentioned, most of the time the job is pretty great.


On top of all this, I have a strong desire to write fiction, which I already do (when I have time, which is minimal). I know I won't get a lot of sympathy on a personal finance site for that (ha), but my DW is super supportive of this and has even offered to support me while I do this for a while. I've written a couple of novels, nothing published, but I feel I have potential as a writer. She wants me to quit this job because she sees how stressed I can get and also doesn't see me that often. However, I'm terrified of not being able to find anything better, especially if I leave after only year 2, and I don't really want to be supported by the DW all the time. The great parts of the job just make me hesitate to quit, since I do not have an advanced degree, and I am definitely not going to find gainful employment writing fiction. (No, journalism or scientific writing is not the same -- in fact I've tried this and instead of supporting the art it rather "kills" it.) I'm at a loss to what I could do instead and still be challenged, interested, and decently paid.

Anyway, I have been at an impasse for roughly the past year and a half trying to figure out what to do -- as soon as I realized the extent of the commitment this job required. Sorry for the long post but I was curious for the Mustachian perspective, facepunches as well as a dash of compassion for repressed artist welcome.

Thanks all.

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uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2016, 04:12:17 PM »
Couple of things I should probably add for some financial context:

My net worth is approx. zero -- debt and assets pretty much equal out, which includes a retirement investment account and a few $K in savings. It is slowly creeping up as I pay down by loan debt however.

While I plan to invest in index funds, I am currently throwing all extra money into paying off undergraduate loans, to the tune of $1K per month. If I quit this job I will likely have to reduce this amount in proportion to my lowered income.

My job requires me to have a pickup truck, which is not the most gas-guzzling of pickup trucks, but still. I have to drive a LOT. I also end up spending money on fast food, etc. as I get "stuck" in places when my packed food runs out and there are no grocery stores, etc. I do get reimbursed for most travel expenses.

DW is not very frugal, and is not at all interested in the MMM lifestyle or FIRE. But she's not a heavy spender either. Because of her desires and needs, and because I love her, I will probably never be FIRE either, which I am okay with. We will take those yearly vacations etc. We separate our finances except for co-owned things like the dog.


mozar

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2016, 04:29:48 PM »
So you live in Belize? Have you tried searching for jobs? I thought for sure that I couldn't find another job in my field for better pay, but once I started looking I was able to get a better job with better pay. The job doesn't sound worth staying for to me, but I don't know how things are in Belize.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2016, 04:47:28 PM »
You can’t be satisfied because they are overworking you and underpaying you – probably the reason the lifespan of the position is <= 6 years. The fact that your job is your whole life is a huge red flag that isn’t just waving, it is smacking you in the face. In my opinion a job should NEVER be your whole life. Nope, not even if you are doing the unbelievable work of curing cancer in little homeless children. You should always feel like you have other good things in life that you have time for - friends, family, food, reading, etc.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I had to leave an overwork/underpay type job before. Don’t regret it one bit. Those jobs burn you out to no end. Sure I felt important while doing it, and the work was interesting…but I also felt stressed, rushed, anxious, depressed, unappreciated, and generally burnt out from the same job too. Do what you have to do to take care of yourself financially, and then find something that is more balanced.

norabird

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2016, 09:53:12 PM »
Absolutely look for another opportunity. Your instinct of burn out seems right and you've gained a lot from the job--enough that you're ready to move on to a new challenge.


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Red_Gold

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2016, 01:21:48 AM »
Take the middle path. Stay another year and pay off your debt while actively searching for another opportunity. Is relocation an option at all? It can be difficult when you have a partner.
Learn skills, get resume points and move on before you're completely burnt out. Burn out point seems to be different for different people. My personal stress threshold is rather low, so when I start loosing sleep over work issues that's when I know it's time to make a change.

On the writing side of things... I've got a bit of writing aspirations myself and hope to devote more time to it once I FIRE or go part-time. I am working on it though but building a stash and forging my path to FI are my priorities and for that I must work full time for another decade at least. I too have a partner who is willing to support me but I have more confidence in my ability to FIRE than I do in my writing and so I focus my energies on that goal. Maybe you feel more confidence in yourself and then it might be worth the risk. However, letting your partner support you will surely place some burden of expectations on your shoulders. Personally,  I don't want that kind of pressure.
I can really relate to the time issue as well, since I work full time and have a household to run, hungry messy teenagers included. Finding time to write is a daily struggle, but then, so is finding time for fitness. We make time for our priorities its as simple as that. Very similar to money handling in fact. We have limited amount of time and limited amount of money so we must make choices with it. Choices that are in line with our goals. I've stopped buying take out for lunches because I want to build a stash and I've quit TV because I want to give myself time to write and read books. Its a crude example but you see where I am going with it.

If I were you I would devote some time to trying to get my novels published, even if only in the form of eBooks.

Best of luck with everything!

uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2016, 04:54:04 AM »
Take the middle path. Stay another year and pay off your debt while actively searching for another opportunity.


Thanks to each of you for the advice. I have thought of this route, and it's another of the reasons I hesitate to leave. Most jobs in my field that I have seen advertised, or that wouldn't be the same thing all over again, ask for at least 3 years of experience. Since I have 2, another year would presumably give me that experience they are looking for.

On the other hand I am not sure staying in this field is a good idea if I want to have better pay/better hours. It is notorious for squeezing every drop of effort out of a person for minimal compensation. However, I have been in this field so long (in much lower positions), pretty much since college, that I don't have any other connections or know where else I might look. I am very qualified and I should say very good at my job, but I actually found the job through personal connections.

I sometimes fantasize about doing a trade, such as carpentry (I have some skill in this), but everyone I meet is struggling, or again working ridiculous hours. What attracts me is the idea of working for myself and having that freedom and autonomy to choose. I was an Independent Contractor for a few years, and while I loved those things about it, finding work all the time was half my hours. It's expensive to employ yourself, both in taxes and time.

norabird

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2016, 09:04:29 AM »
Try applying for the jobs asking for three years experience now, since you've been in the field at a lower level for longer; it sounds as if you're pressed for time, but go after the job postings out there and take some long shots, or let your network know you're looking.


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ubermich

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2016, 09:25:37 PM »
Just out of curiosity, if you don't give the 110% the company requests are they quick to fire?

I once worked in IT and when I told my boss I felt overworked he asked why I always worked extra time. He pointed out that they never asked me to work as hard as I did and no one else at the company worked as hard. My work ethic turned into a better opportunity for a different company and I definitely don't suggest half-assing anything, but the conversation adjusted my perspective.

uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2016, 05:23:16 AM »
Just out of curiosity, if you don't give the 110% the company requests are they quick to fire?

I once worked in IT and when I told my boss I felt overworked he asked why I always worked extra time. He pointed out that they never asked me to work as hard as I did and no one else at the company worked as hard. My work ethic turned into a better opportunity for a different company and I definitely don't suggest half-assing anything, but the conversation adjusted my perspective.

That's a good point and definitely says something about my personality. Particularly the combination of this job, which I care about, and my perfectionist tendencies, make it very difficult for me to let things just be "good enough." The other part of it is that the job is structured in such a way that if things aren't perfect, it makes life harder for me. Other people might not notice as much. By spending those extra 2 hours a day at work, I set myself up for less headaches later.

They probably would not fire me but I would feel like kind of a doof.

I have a pretty high level but also a high number of different responsibilities at my job. I envy folks who seem to have just "one job" at work: balance the budget or troubleshoot IT problems or whatever. At the same time, it's sort of fun doing different things every day and it keeps things interesting.

norabird

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2016, 06:03:32 AM »
Sounds like it's time for brainstorming on boundaries and priorities if some of this being over-worked is essentially self-imposed.


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uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2016, 06:01:20 AM »
Sounds like it's time for brainstorming on boundaries and priorities if some of this being over-worked is essentially self-imposed.


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It's true some of it is self-imposed, and it has to do with the fact that I have a lot of personal connections with this job. I care about it too much, you might say. On the other hand my boss has a firm belief (and I wonder if this is a whole other discussion topic) that salaried employees should be expected to work more than 40 hours per week and not get any other compensation -- that's the trade-off in having consistent, guaranteed employment and benefits. I disagree with that philosophy in theory. In practice, I go along with it because if I don't the job becomes even more stressful.

I don't know about any of you, but when I overwork I find myself desperately looking for ways to "turn my brain off" when I'm not working -- in other words not doing fun things or hobbies as much and instead plunking on the couch and watching Netflix. This has the immediate reward of being a helpful distraction but doesn't have any lasting satisfaction the way a creative project does. Otherwise perhaps I'd have more energy and focus to look for something better BEFORE leaving.

However, I have to be challenged at work or I get bored.

Right now my plan is to discuss the situation with my boss, and basically be honest, telling him that I'm feeling overworked and underpaid, and while I love this job it is negatively affecting the rest of my life. If he's open to it maybe we can troubleshoot ways to make the job less all-consuming. At the very least we can get on the same page, and if needed, I can start transitioning out of the organization. (If/when I leave, I will need to wait several months for the end of the "season" and probably help train my replacement.)

*edited for making sense.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 06:03:01 AM by uppy »

sleepyguy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2016, 01:40:32 PM »
This... how is this even a question... it's not even close.

The real negatives for me are these:

    I have almost no time to enjoy life outside of my job, although the job itself is mostly enjoyable
    Certain aspects of the job are NOT enjoyable, namely my boss. He is a micromanager big time, which stresses me out.
    The pay is pretty low for the hours I put in (roughly 50 hours per week) -- works out to like $14/hour sometimes
    It's hurting my relationship with my DW.

So it's affecting your relationship and you have no life outside work.  Leave, it's not even close.

uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2016, 01:56:41 PM »
I'm going to sound like a complete a-hole so please moderator, if you think this crosses the line, you can delete my post...


Ha.. Craiglepaige your post made me laugh out loud several times. I appreciate it, seriously. 

I'm not going to argue, but just so people who might read this and try to help me don't write off what I've said based on your synopsis, I'm going to clarify just a little bit.

I officially "work" probably 50 hrs./week on average. Meaning I'm on the clock (even though it's salary we still track our hours). This doesn't include all the hours I spend worrying, checking and responding to emails, planning in my head, answering calls from employees, etc. etc. You say if I'm a perfectionist, I should just stop. Well, I wish it were that easy but that's a little like telling an introvert to just start being extroverted. It's in my nature, and it's exacerbated by this particular job that I care about.

Some things you attribute to me that I never said or meant to imply:
-That I don't like my job or that it sucks (if that were the case the decision to leave would be as easy as you say)
-That I don't write even though I want to (I do, quite a bit)
-That I expect my job to "bring me joy" or be perfect

Like you, I have worked since I was very young (9 years old with a paper route, if you want to compare) and I fully acknowledge this is the best job I have ever had. I apologize if I sound like one of those whiny "I don't want to work" or "I want my job to be perfect" types you see on here, or if I sound like someone's brother. I honestly am not like that. I am not even trying to retire early. What I'm afraid to do is leave this job precisely because it's so good -- at the expense of everything else in my life.

I am already taking your advice to think about ways to change things for the better -- by asking folks whose opinions I often respect and who I can usually rely on for solid advice. Everyone has offered really constructive and varied advice (yours isn't quite so constructive but still varied I suppose).

Like I said I'm open to facepunches but they are more helpful if they land square in MY face rather than in your brother's face, who I suspect you might be projecting onto my situation a little bit.  I appreciate you writing a reply but as you say, you've never felt the way I do and can't seem to imagine feeling it.

uppy

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2016, 02:03:29 PM »

So it's affecting your relationship and you have no life outside work.  Leave, it's not even close.

OK, now that's a real concise and convincing reality check type opinion I can maybe get behind. Thanks sleepyguy.

To be honest I was leaning towards quitting before I posted. I guess I thought maybe more MMM folks would try to get me to stay based on the financial sense it makes, that maybe those were the kinds of facepunches I needed. Turns out you all mostly think I should leave and I am finding myself a little more convinced I should quit right away.

Choices

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Re: Job/Life help
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2016, 09:30:53 AM »
If you're still learning and bettering yourself in a job, then it is probably worth staying unless you can get the same self-improvement elsewhere on better terms. After that, please, please, read Your Money or Your life. It will change your world.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 04:49:19 PM by Choices »