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Heart says jack it in, head says stick it out

Discussion in 'Careers, Employment and Professional Development' started by HangTime, 17 Jul 2021.

  1. HangTime

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 25 Oct 2002

    Posts: 29,400

    Location: Hampshire

    Bit of a random post after a few drinks, no set question more of a general musing.

    So I currently work in IT, Data specialism, have built up my career over the past 15 years or so. My head wants to give myself a jolly good slap - I earn more in a week than most do a month, it's not *that* horrendous like having to clean toilets with your tongue or something. Just keep plugging away and bringing home the bacon, maybe get to a position where you retire by 60 or whatever.

    My heart on the other hand, frequently says to me, WTF are you doing here, you have more enjoyment writing posts on OcUK, Discord, writing about sports, gaming, tech, whatever. At times I'm told I'm too verbose, I have a hundred things to say but people only want to hear 10 in a work environment. I do my work and the majority I am indifferent to or dislike. I'm much happier just at home with my kids, writing stuff on the internet or whatever.

    So where this leaves me is a crossroads; do I throw away a 15 year career and go for a reset? Take some naff job where I have an opportunity to write prose. Maybe take a huge punt and try to create a youtube channel or something. Either way I'm going to take probably an 80% pay cut.

    I'm sure others must have hit this position at some point. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis now I'm in my 40s. Maybe the pandemic has accelerated this sort of reflective thinking. It feels very very strange, because in prior years I've always said to people just follow the money, rake in the cash and then you have more options, earn the dough up front then you can choose what you want to do after. But now I'm in their shoes it feels different, I sit here thinking, do I want to spent another 10 years wasting my life away, health going downhill doing stuff that doesn't motivate me? Shouldn't I just go all-in, try and force my way into doing something else with all the opportunities the internet opens up, try and get to a position where I can earn 20% money but actually enjoy what I'm doing? And if it doesn't work out, nobody is interested, just fall back on the career experience and go back with my tail between my legs?

  2. sigma


    Joined: 13 Nov 2006

    Posts: 19,256

    Why does it have to be either or? Can't you stick with what you do for now and try other things on the side?
  3. fatbatman


    Joined: 1 Feb 2020

    Posts: 211

    Honestly, if you're 40, no one on youtube wants to hear what you have to say unfortunately. Pretty naive to think you could become a youtuber at that age also, no offense and happy to be proven wrong but statistics do not lean in your favour.

    Why not have a side hustle that you enjoy? Something to put a couple hours a night into.

    /Incoming randomshenans ego
  4. Kreeeee

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 13 Jul 2004

    Posts: 43,832

    Location: /* */

    If you're that comfortable with your income then move to part time work, especially if you have kids.

    That gives you the freedom of more time to do creative things and enjoy time with your family.
  5. Quartz


    Joined: 1 Apr 2014

    Posts: 13,932

    Location: Aberdeen

    Speaking from experience, listen to your head, not your heart.

    I did this for the best of reasons and it turned out very poorly indeed. I ended up on benefits. Don't make the mistake I did.
  6. Worthy


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,905

    Location: Manchester

    Mid-life crisis. Stay in the rat race and be well prepared for retirement. If you’re doing as well as you say you could retire in a few years if you’ve been planning it well.
  7. radderfire


    Joined: 24 Sep 2007

    Posts: 3,186

    I think the problem with a lot of IT jobs is that they can become very tedious after a while, and unrewarding. The good thing about them is that they can pay well, and this should not be underestimated. Whether you give it up or not might depend on your financial situation, and you need to be very confident in today's environment that you won't need the salary again. If you were to leave with dreams of YouTube etc, you should try doing this first in your spare time to see if you can make a go of it, otherwise you might have unrealistic expectations.

    Are there ways in which you can make your job more fun, or ways to have more fun at work (not being silly, just fun things that help work performance). Maybe think how you could bring some colour to your current role to make it less dull.

    My answer is make it more fun and entertaining, then stick it out.
  8. peterwalkley


    Joined: 23 Feb 2009

    Posts: 4,022

    Location: South Wirral

    Do the side stuff in your spare time for enjoyment and don't expect it to make you any money. If it does, then that's a bonus.

    My wife is a fiction writer. The vast majority have a day job that pays the bills (or spouse or private wealth) , it's a tiny tiny percentage that can make a living from it.
  9. Semple


    Joined: 5 Mar 2010

    Posts: 8,721

    You can't just say you're in your 40s. There's usually a big difference to someone who's early 40s vs late 40s.

    Whether you're mortgaged or not will have a big sway on decisions. Are your kids in private school? Do you have enough savings put away to continue a comfortable lifestyle.

    I appreciate these are all personal questions and that you probably don't want to answer these online. But if you're taking a significant drop in salary, you probably only want to do so once you're in a financial position with no debts/big fees etc.
  10. SkodaMart


    Joined: 27 Jul 2009

    Posts: 4,376

    Location: Manchester

    Teach me the data side.
    I have IT qualifications done as a hobby.
    Plus work as an electrician so have experience installing too.
    Would be great to combine the two and it’s the way I’m currently thinking.
  11. SkodaMart


    Joined: 27 Jul 2009

    Posts: 4,376

    Location: Manchester

    Been through it myself.
  12. HangTime

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 25 Oct 2002

    Posts: 29,400

    Location: Hampshire

    Side hustle to test the waters makes sense but I'm not sure I've got the time/energy to do it "all in" alongside work, looking after kids etc. Kind of feels like I'd never really know if I failed because it was the wrong choice or because I didn't dedicate enough time to it. That said, there's probably little harm in trying.

    Early 40s, no mortgage, no private school, enough savings to live comfortably for 5-10 years but certainly not retire on (especially as my pension pot is very low compared to most people in my financial position). Plus you never know when you might need/want to spend a sizeable wedge on something (family illness or whatever), I like to have some put aside for a rainy day. I guess you could say I'm in an awkward middle ground of having enough wealth to not worry about money on a day-to-day / monthly basis, but not enough money to just ignore it in the long term.
    Sorry to hear that. I normally listen to my head and have traditionally been risk averse, but I think the pandemic-enforced WFH period has sort of brought into focus the difference between how I feel about time spent at my desk doing work versus time spent at my desk doing things I enjoy (because I'm sat at the same desk for both, not having that physical transition between work and home). It will be stuff like, I'll feel a dopamine hit from discussing something of interest to me in a personal setting, and then have the comedown of some annoying situation at work.
  13. Kill_Phil

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 11 Feb 2010

    Posts: 1,656

    Location: England

    Money isn't the be all and end all. Sounds like you're earning a decent wedge, so as someone else said look at dropping to 3 or 4 days to give you some additional time to pursue the things you want.

    Chucking away a 15 year career probably isn't the most sensible thing to be doing in the current.
  14. datalol-jack


    Joined: 1 Mar 2010

    Posts: 6,253

    So why not first reduce your hours and then the working week in your day job?

    Eventually this will tip the balance of your time more in favour of the side hustle and less in favour of your main job. A part-time role with good pay will likely pro-rata reduce your income less than a basic job that may yet grow to eat up your time, or just be a different sort of grind to begin with.

    Then if your hustle works out like a sustainable way to love what you do, you could gradually hand over to a successor and depart on good terms. If not, you can ramp the hours back up or move jobs, which with your experience may even net more pay and better conditions down the line - no need to explain the fugue state of X years doing Y hustle also. It will also give you some more musing time to come up with a plan of attack, research and allocate your extra time and resources towards your goals.

    Like a couple of posters above caution, the 'chuck it all in' approach is somewhat distorted in favour of people for whom it worked out spreading the gospel vocally. You will hardly read or enjoy stories of abject failure - hence they are less amplified. I'd lean on the side of only going 100% in behind something that has caught traction and has a potential to scale up for you and your needs. Otherwise you may just be after a hobby.

    Since you appear to be working in a popular field, you could test the waters by running a self-reinforcing combination of activities: writing a blog; creating courses to fling online to sell; and having a YouTube channel eventually to feed off the other two and drive traffic between all the three avenues of exposition. Further, you can then get other people involved to help you focus on just the things you enjoy.
  15. lurkio


    Joined: 20 May 2010

    Posts: 3,040

    Location: World

    I have been were you are, (mid life crisis) , I leapt into the void .... I quit a well paying but boring job and opened my own business
    After a couple of years got bored with that and got a new job
    Advise, I would try and reduce your hours and try up better your work life balance, I would not do anything drastic, try out some of your interests in a part time basis
  16. PC777


    Joined: 23 Dec 2018

    Posts: 927

    Entry level prose writing jobs in marketing or journalism pay peanuts compared to what you get. Also at your age there may not be many people or organisations that actually want to hear what you have to offer, a brutal truth I'm in a similar position to if I were to change career and follow a writing dream.

    You earn enough to take time off and write something in your spare time, unless it's truly great work or that fits a current trend often leading towards youth and modern trends, you may not even have a willing audience, let alone a publisher.

    Keep a great day job and write in free time for now would be my advice.
  17. dLockers


    Joined: 21 Jan 2010

    Posts: 7,464

    Read Haunted by Chuck Palaniuk (of Fight Club fame) before you take the plunge.
  18. HangTime

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 25 Oct 2002

    Posts: 29,400

    Location: Hampshire

    Reducing hours isn't easy to do, I think it would drastically reduce job opportunities as in my line of work you rarely see part time work advertised, it only really comes about where you have a perm at at organisation for a while and they agree new terms (e.g. coming back off maternity leave etc).
    This is what has stopped me taking the plunge in the past, basically to work in journalism you used to have to have earned your stripes writing for the uni rag, local paper etc and the pay is low. With online publishing now however it's easier to get things out there but even less option to monetise it. A friend of mine left an IT career about 10 years ago to take up freelance writing and I know she earned very little from it, she moved overseas and basically just rented a cheap room and could just about make ends meet.

    I also know that the audience might be pretty limited (a lot of the things I'm knowledgeable about are either too niche with a small audience, or too saturated with content creators already), and I'm actually OK with that (I get enjoyment from writing not just the reaction to what I've written), but it does mean it's not really marketable.

    Probably, what I need to look for is a middle ground, try to identify roles related in some way to my work experience but that I will find more rewarding. But still risky, because e.g. say I take job with a 50% pay cut, it would be disappointing if I found I still wasn't happy in that, a halfway house that just pays less money but still doesn't actually get me working on things I enjoy.

    When I was a teenager in careers class, saying I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up, they said not to worry about it and it would come with time. But 20 years after graduation, you kinda feel like you should have some some sort of plan aligned to what you want, rather than my career path that has essentially just been about naturally progressing based on what things I've got exposure to by chance. Don't get me wrong, I've sort of naturally gravitated towards things that at least partially suit me, e.g. I didn't study anything around IT at school/uni but ended up working in IT because I was interested in that outside of work.
  19. Scougar


    Joined: 30 Jan 2007

    Posts: 13,402

    Location: PA, USA

    Look for a new role that will challenge you.

    I am in the same position of feeling like I am sick of people managing my day. I want to work for myself, but have no solid plan that could keep my family secure and funded. I want meaning to my life and right now there is nothing.

    I won't say you shouldn't drop your career, but understand no it could go wrong. People that I saw be successful in leaving IT already had a VERY good side thing going that they were able to move to and then fully focus on. (E.g. IT director moved into ownership/partnership with a local brewing company that he was already heavily invested/involved in.)

    Starting at a writing position just because you feel you might be good at it, isn't a smart move unless you have something already in place.

    Contract in IT? Go places, get higher pay, and have some risk, and see how comfortable you are with the risk/reward thing before you decide to risk it all on a no-plan low paid position.

    Heck, use your salary and focus on funding a side project with it.
  20. matt100


    Joined: 31 Jul 2004

    Posts: 12,684

    Location: Surrey

    It's a mid life crisis and an entirely understandable one.

    Myself and a few friends are in the same position.. early/mid 40s, doing well in careers earning way more than we'd really dreamed.

    It's churlish to complain obviously but I think the challenge comes from the fact your 20s are based on finding your feet, starting a career, finding someone to be with etc... 30s normally starting a family and struggling to get the house or move up the ladder/get promoted etc. There's always something to strive for.

    Then you get to your 40s and it all starts to get a bit "easier" but then suddenly you're all... don't want a new family, don't need a new house, not struggling to pay the bills, don't want my bosses job so now what?

    THIS for another 20 years?

    It's quite daunting. I'm in a similar place.. lockdown and constant WFH just makes it worse.

    But remember it could be much much much worse.