Which work isn't working?
June 4, 2012 5:57 AM Subscribe
Would you leave a well-paid but badly-fitting job to do something you really cared about but for less money?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Background: In 2008 I went to work for a regulatory organisation, very corporate and totally different to my previous experience. Until then I'd worked in not-for-profits, mostly public and community sector plus a year at a national museum. I was generally very happy but the pay wasn't amazing and I wanted to save enough for a house deposit. My current job pays very well but it's been really hard culturally and I've become somewhat removed from myself as a result. Things came to a head earlier this year when I realised I'd stopped crying on a regular basis - I was now too numb to care. I'd become very isolated and anti-social so, at my SO's urging, I saw a counsellor and started pursuing creative activities outside work. My mood outside of work has improved a bit but the gear shifting is hard and it's actually making it more difficult to go through the motions when I'm there.
Having said that the job has stabilised my finances and developed my experience. I was promoted, reached my savings goal and finished an important project so I've got to the point where I can realistically leave on good terms. I'd like to go back to museums and have put out a couple of applications. My SO is relieved - he thinks I'll be much happier in a different job. So what's the issue?
I've basically lost perspective and it's making me second guess my job search. I've adapted so well to working in an industry I've come to actively despise I literally cannot imagine how working somewhere better fitting will be an improvement, especially if I'll be taking a 25% pay cut. The UK's dip back into recession is also giving me pause for thought - am I romanticising the joys of working with like-minded people over the cold hard reality of work in a struggling economy? My current job is soul-destroying but it's safe and well compensated, in a great location with a fair bit of flexibility. I'd be returning to short-term contracts in a shrinking, highly competitive sector and although my heart leaps at the thought my head is telling me to exercise caution. But then I think of the smile I have to paint on every morning and the extreme energy it takes to fake the requisite level of engagement and motivation and I just want to lie down and never get up.
TLDR version: Has anyone been in this position? Did life get better when you left a well-paid job you hated for something you cared about passionately, or was it less of an improvement than you'd expected? If you did choose to stay did it get any better? Anecdata very welcome.