End of the road...oh no, more road.
January 25, 2013 9:11 AM Subscribe
How do I stop sabotaging my own plans to leave a badly fitting job?
I joined a corporate organisation in 2008 because I wanted to pay off debt and save. I'd previously been a contractor in cultural institutions/non-profits and the adjustment period was really hard but I stuck it out to avoid being a flake and promised myself I'd move on soon.
2.5 years ago I was promoted to manager and although the first year was an interesting challenge I've been unhappy for pretty much the entire time since. I do like my colleagues but I'm uncomfortable managing people who were previously team mates. I also have next to no interest in the industry my job supports and the vast majority of my work revolves around the endless re-specification of a sprawling org-wide IT infrastructure project that my team has a small stake in, at the cost of the actual front end work we're supposed to be concentrating on. Churn (outside of my team) is high, restructures happen almost on a six monthly basis and I feel utterly burnt out.
So quit right? Except I can't seem to do it.
I tried the 'get a new job first' route. In April last year I applied for and was offered a similar gig that paid much more, but I turned it down as the company felt 'too corporate'. In September I again applied for and was offered a similar type of job but back in the kind of creative institution I would have given my right arm to work at 5 years ago. I actually got as far as accepting the job and handing in my notice - only to rescind a week later out of panic that I'd oversold myself and the role would be beyond me. I think I'm really just afraid of finding myself back in this position if I take any job I appear to be qualified for.
I applied for lots of less senior posts too but didn't get short-listed for interview. I even toned down my application for an internship at a big museum that had previously offered me a job back when I was contracting but didn't get so much as an acknowledgement. Having hired people to work in my own team I know how weird it is to get senior people applying for junior posts.
I'm now feeling so disenfranchised I want to cry constantly. The sheer effort of maintaining this veneer of caring about the work we do has worn me out. I feel like a terrible, horrible person for effectively lying to colleagues (of whom I'm generally very fond) for over five years. I feel I took a wrong turn at a critical junction five years ago and it's too late to go back. I'm 37 and seemingly too senior now for most front line production work back in my old sector but I don't have the confidence or practical chops to take on a management role there either. I can't access how I really feel about any of this any more and I feel like I'm barely alive.
Originally I'd promised myself that I'd only stick out the job until debts were paid and a specific amount was saved. I've built up three times that original sum and long since paid of that debt, with another six-months emergency fund on the side, yet every time a (self-imposed) deadline to quit comes up it slides past. I have no dependants and my job has a three month notice period so it's not like I'd be in penury in two weeks if I did quit but still I can't bring myself to do it.
I saw a therapist for nearly a year to help me move on, but all that seemed to happen was I talked my self even harder into staying. I have no idea what to do any more - I feel I have no skills other than pretending really effectively. I cry at the thought of Monday mornings and coming back after Christmas was so awful I actually called in sick for three days. I feel irritable and angry a lot of the time.
What the hell is wrong with me? How do I stop sabotaging my own plans? Has anyone else been through this? What did you do to make yourself move on?